Americans Suffer from Natural and Government-Created Disasters

Source: The Unz Review.

Imagine there’s no Heaven. — John Lenin

Of the several points the writer makes there are two I find compelling.

The first is that federal disaster spending should be offset by cutting back other spending. This is the responsible thing to do since the alternative is to print money to fund disaster relief or else to raise taxes, both of which are clearly irresponsible.

The second is the idea of eliminating federal disaster spending in its entirety. I doubt the American public can ever be convinced that doing so is a good idea, but theoretically, at least, I see some merit. For example, the certainty of federal disaster relief surely encourages populations to inhabit riskier locales than they otherwise might.

30 thoughts on “Americans Suffer from Natural and Government-Created Disasters

      1. Using the federal government as an insurance provider is in itself irresponsible because disasters are unpredictable. But even so, federal insurance for disaster relief doesn’t solve the “whose ‘low priority'” problem you mention. For example, as a Virginian, I have little interest in Californian earthquakes.


        1. “For example, as a Virginian, I have little interest in Californian earthquakes.”

          Kind of like how Ron DeSantis had little interest in helping the New York victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. And just this past week the entire Florida delegation voted against government funding including FEMA while simultaneously asking for Federal help. You cannot make this stuff up.

          FWIIW, I think you totally miss the point with your comment. We are one country. We help each other in time of need.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. What is irresponsible is that, in the belief that the Federal government will bail them out, people make irresponsible and risky choices.

      People should assume their own risks and insure accordingly. If you can’t afford the flood insurance to build in Sandbridge, that’s the marketplace telling you that you can’t afford the risk of building there.

      States should self-insure to cover risks particular to their location, or band together with other states of similar risk profiles to do so. Coastal states, for example, could band together to repair and replace infrastructure damaged by hurricanes. Western states should band together to self-insure for earthquake damage to infrastructure.

      But there is no justification for taxing the Kansas farmer to bail out the owners of Malibu Beach front mansions.


      1. “But there is no justification for taxing the Kansas farmer to bail out the owners of Malibu Beach front mansions.”

        But it is okay to tax Californians to bail out Kansas farmers, right?

        But, as you are wont to do, you are beating up a straw man. FEMA does not actually pay for individual losses that should normally be paid by flood insurance. From the FEMA website . . .

        “Understand What Losses FEMA May Cover

        FEMA assistance differs from insurance. Assistance only provides the basic needs to make a home safe, sanitary and functional. FEMA assistance does not make you whole again, but it can give you a helping hand to recover. FEMA disaster assistance covers basic needs only and will not normally compensate you for your entire loss.”

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I am from Louisiana, My family is still there, I am well aware of what FEMA does, but except for emergency aid to prevent loss of life, those are things that should be insured against privately.


          1. One of the issues in Florida is that insurance carriers are small or mid-sized since the big ones have left, starting with Andrew. There are concerns that even if you have insurance, the company may be insolvent.

            Realistically, abandoning the whole state would be logical since most is just a few feet above sea level. And the peninsula is a target for major hurricanes.

            Liked by 2 people

      2. Major catastrophes are what governments are best able to assist with. One of the functions of government is the safety of its citizens. Police, military, fire, floods, earthquakes, etc.

        A major hurricane that wipes out a port like Hampton Roads or an earthquake that destroys San Francisco or Long Beach will affect the entire country. And no amount of insurance or reinsurance will cover huge catastrophic damages.

        That being said, the flood insurance program has been abused by developers and municipalities. Building on barrier islands, next to large forests or behind levees is irresponsible at best. Subsidizing insurance for such is no longer feasible or affordable. Developments like Punta Gorda, Cape Coral, etc should be illegal without funding by the investors and homeowners to cover a major disaster.

        Most of the people who lost home in Florida did not have adequate insurance to cover the losses. But that does not mean we abandon them to walk miles with nothing bit a suitcase and beg for food. Many have means in places like Sanibel or Naples, but many more do not. They will be literally homeless for the foreseeable future.

        As a nation we should see to it that they can get the basics and a chance to recover. That is what FEMA and other agencies do. As far as rebuilding, that is up to the owners. The insurance market in Florida is already on life support with most major carriers having left. So we can’t replace all losses, nor should we. But we will have tens of thousands who may have been wiped out financially. And many, if not most, are elderly. It is Florida after all.

        BTW one of the worst earthquake disasters was in Missouri, 1810. The New Madrid Seismic Zone. And predictions call for 10% chance of a 7.0 or 8.0 quake there in coming decades. And if the Yellowstone caldera blows, all bets are off no matter where you live.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. How much of those catastrophes is the result of adverse incentives resulting from the promise of government rescue?

          San Francisco has been largely destroyed by earthquakes twice already, so how smart is it to build multi-story office and apartment buildings there?

          We suffer from what Bjorn Lomberg labeled the expanding bullseye effect.


          1. Well, we can keep moving millions of people until we are all in some safe place.

            I don’t think people build in places because FEMA will show up when they flee for their lives.

            So I would say none.

            But if you are hammering flood insurance, you have a point, which I addressed.

            People live where there is work, roads, related infrastructure, schools, airports, etc. Ports, a mainstay of our economy, cannot be move inland obviously. A whole segment of the economy is dependent upon millions of workers, facilities, etc. Hurricanes hit port cities more than mountain resorts.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. People can choose to live in low lying areas but they had best be prepared to pay cash for their homes, Banks are less inclined to loan money for houses that are likely to be destroyed unless they are fully insured.

            If people are taking more of the risk themselves, they can make different choices. They can build elevated, smaller and stronger homes. They can build a couple of miles from the water instead of having a dock on their property.


          3. I swear you are wealth envious of those who live near water. You keep bringing that up.

            Orlando got some major flooding from Ian. It’s in the middle of the state. Nelson County, VA has been hit twice. Once from Camille in the sixties and another from just massive rains in the 80’s. Folk there are not rich boat owners. We had an earthquake near Charlottesville a decade ago. Who had insurance for that?

            I advocate for all insurance to cover all events. The only surcharge is if you live at sea level or river flood plains within a certain distance, a known fault, or up against a forest. If the spread hike all insurance a small amount, with supplements by the greatest risk takers, it would be much more cost effective and simpler. Also, no subsidies for commercial development unless it is critical to infrastructure, like warehouses at ports.

            Liked by 2 people

          4. Insurance companies are quite good at pricing policies in risk prone areas. Not all places at risk from flooding are on the coast,

            But even in places like Nelson County, risk varies greatly in a few miles

            The insurers have loss records going back decades and will price accordingly.


          5. The majors have left Florida. Not the flood insurance but regular homeowners
            insurance. If the smaller ones take a bath, it could create a situation where homes cannot get any coverage, banks or no banks.

            Liked by 1 person

          6. I’m not certain, but I believe those small companies are required to carry secondary insurance, That’s what Lloyd’s of London and other reinsurance companies exist for.


          7. Actually, I think all insurance companies “layoff” their potential liabilities on reinsurers. The point is that if insurance companies abandon a region, not just the high risk portions, people have problems.

            Liked by 1 person

          8. If insurers abandon a region, either the place is just not a viable place to live, or, more likely, regulators won’t allow them to charge a premium that reflects the risk.



            “Friedlander says the volatile market has turned the state-run Citizens Insurance from the insurer of last resort to most people’s first and only resort. In addition, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has made Citizens the re-insurer for companies facing massive claims. Something Friedlander believes is setting the state up for disaster.”

            “He believes this is because the state didn’t do enough to address issues like third-party contracting schemes, exuberant attorney fees, and other issues that are pushing insurance companies to the brink of extinction.”

            It might be because the state was too lax in regulating the insurance industry in Florida.

            Liked by 2 people

          10. Assignment of benefits is standard practice in health care, I have to wonder if fraud of some other sort is involved.

            I wonder if judges are elected there?

            I know in Louisiana there is a problem with people not buying flood insurance and then when a storm surge takes out their house, claiming that the house blew down before the surge came.

            Hard to disprove.

            I’ll ask my brother. He’s the risk management attorney for Saia Truck lines and usually knows what’s going on in the insurance industry.


          11. Fraud in assignment of benefits was, or is, a big factor according to the article. Plus, apparently, Florida has a long history of corruption because of influence by developers. Remember the early Florida “boom” right after WW2? Swampland lots sold as paradise to gullible out-of-staters, particularly the Northeast.

            In my opinion, Florida is just another corrupt state on the Gulf coast, and they would be poor too except for the massive monies from vacationers and retirees. Citrus and cattle industries help too.

            Interesting story about a town called Babcock Ranch, about 25 miles west of Port Charlotte, FL. All homes are hurricane wind “proof”. Streets and drains are designed to handle flooding. Power lines underground. And totally solar powered with their own gas fired generator as backup. Houses start at $250K.

            No damage even though winds hit 100+. No power loss. And, of course, no surge.



      3. RE: “Major catastrophes are what governments are best able to assist with.”

        I disagree. The only things that make government “best” at assisting with major catastrophes are its ability to print money and redistribute wealth by force. Neither is a legitimate function of government.

        RE: “A major hurricane that wipes out a port like Hampton Roads or an earthquake that destroys San Francisco or Long Beach will affect the entire country.”

        And a butterfly flapping its wings in Singapore can cause that hurricane. There are practical limits to the observation that everything is connected.


        1. “…the observation that everything is connected.”

          Bad analogy. The effects I’m talking about are economic and we would all pay for that one way or another. Not just service, but lost jobs, supply lines, warehouses, docks, worker homes, cars, roads, etc.

          No butterflies.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. RE: “The effects I’m talking about are economic and we would all pay for that one way or another.”

            The idea that everyone pays for every cost experienced by anyone anywhere is just crazy.


          2. Wait for OJ prices to rise when the damage to orange groves starts to affect them. Or recall the supply chain issues during the pandemic affected everyone.

            Insurance premiums will be affected as payouts for natural disasters climb, and not just in the regions that were struck.

            Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s