The Bush Administration sat on a request from Gray Davis for money to clear dead trees for six months, then rejected it just as the wildfires broke out. [*]

Somehow the fact that the state was getting money to try to control the bark-beetle infestation that had been killing the trees was seen as a reason not to provide money to clear out the trees the beetles had already killed before they burned. The well-known desire of the Bush Administration to stick it to California presumably played no role.

Twenty people died in the fires. How many of them would be alive today had the Administration done the right thing will never be known.

I’d like to see some Democratic campaign ads featuring the victims’ families. Hardball? You bet.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com