Pork Barrel Spending and the Katrina Flood:
In his post below on the Washington Post story on spending by the Army Corps of Engineers in Louisiana, David writes:
  [T]he article suggests that the Corps of Engineers exists almost entirely to fund pork barrel projects. So much for those who argue that the essential problem was parsimonious Republicans or a weak state. The essential problem (beyond Mother Nature), as is often the case, was short-sighted politicians.
  I read the article a bit differently. As I see it, the article makes the point that while the Army Corps of Engineers put lots of resources into Louisiana, "much" of it aimed at keeping New Orleans dry, some of the money was put towards other projects that may or may not have been needed. The article doesn't say exactly how much, but says that "hundreds of millions" of the $1.9 billion spent by the Army Corps of Engineers in Louisiana was unrelated to keeping New Orleans dry.

  If I'm not mistaken, however, the article doesn't provide any reason to conclude that the pork barrel spending facilitated or caused the flooding of New Orleans. I'm no expert on the question, of course, but my sense is that the flooding resulted primarily from the combination of a) long-term government planning for only a Category 3 Hurricane hitting New Orleans and b) a Category 4 hurricane hitting New Orleans. The article notes that the Army Corps of Engineers had started to study the feasibility of upgrading the levees for a higher level of protection, but the study was obviously too late. If that's right, then the primary problem that led to the flooding would seem to be more poor long-term risk planning or just plain bad luck than pork barrel spending.