Well-being and disadvantage

Authored by: Jonathan Wolff , Douglas Reeve

The Routledge Handbook Of Philosophy Of Well-Being

Print publication date:  August  2015
Online publication date:  July  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415714532
eBook ISBN: 9781315682266
Adobe ISBN: 9781317402657


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Yalding in Kent, UK, is no stranger to winter floods. This small village at the confluence of the rivers Tiese, Beult, and Medway experienced the Christmas flood of 1927, the multiple floods of 2000, and their latest inundation on Christmas Eve, 2013. Residents of the unfortunately named Little Venice Country Park in Yalding suffered evacuation and loss of property. A serious problem no doubt, but not as severe as those suffered by many others elsewhere. Lives were not lost. Prime Minister David Cameron, on a televised visit to the area, seemed genuinely taken aback when a local resident scolded him for lack of action in preventing or responding to the latest torrent engulfing the village. Imagine his further discomfort when just one week later the Environment Agency announced it was cutting jobs in flood protection in England as part of a major restructuring of the organization, albeit that this decision had been taken several months earlier. On the face of it, some investment to protect the well-being of Kentish villagers would seem justified. However, a protective barrier for Yalding would cost around £20 million, and raising that sum has not proved easy in times of budget cuts and austerity. The challenge for government policy makers is not just how best to allocate the Environment Agency’s funds but also how to distribute scarce funds across multiple diverse areas, including the environment, health care, pensions, education. It is a complex challenge and probably a thankless task, in that even an optimal allocation of resources will leave many problems unresolved.

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