Monday, November 19, 2012

Build Your House Upon Sand

You Paid to Rebuild John Stossel’s House—Three Times!

Stossel, an opponent of government-sponsored irresponsibility, explains...
Real insurance means private companies make bets about floods with their own money. But America has little of that.
I know this first-hand. I built a beach house because government encouraged me to take the risk. Private insurance companies wouldn't insure most of us who built on the edges of oceans, and those that did charged high prices. "Too high," said Congress, "so government must insure everyone!" They said they'd price it so taxpayers wouldn't lose—but as usual, they were wrong. Even before Sandy, federal flood insurance was $18 billion in the red.
And worse, cheap insurance encouraged more people to build on the beach. This is an absurd subsidy that should immediately be abolished.
As Paul put it, "Rich people get insurance subsidized by poor people, build on beaches.... Their houses get washed away, and poor people pay to rebuild.... It's a reason we're totally bankrupt."
Yes, it is. My house eventually washed away, and you paid. That's wrong. (Natural Disasters and Big Government)
The federal government has encouraged all of us to build our houses upon the sand. People with common sense will understand this analogy. Big government statists will not.

See Also, from the left:  We Need to Retreat from the Beach


KP said...

Things that make you go, hmmmm ...

Always On Watch said...


I'm in a pithy mood.

Bunkerville said...

Me too.

FreeThinke said...

I believe if we have the means to buy a piece of private property, we should be able to use it and enjoy it in any manner that suits us -- as long as our architectural anomalies and eccentricities don't interfere with the way others enjoy their private property rights.

In other words individual developments, townships, cities and communities should have the right to establish and maintain community standards they deem suitable for their particular needs and goals.

But ABOVE ALL -- no one -- and I mean NO ONE -- should claim a "right" to build and maintain something he cannot afford to maintain strictly on his OWN.

The demented notion that the country at large has a COLLECTIVE DUTY to restore lost LUXURIES to ANYONE is morally and fiscally untenable.

That said, I have seen the way bizarre-looking conglomerations of odd-shaped, rough-sawn, barn-like "beach houses," each seeming to vie for attention with all the others have cluttered the seascape for miles up and down the eastern seaboard, and I frankly think it's a damned shame any of them were ever built at all.

Back in the lovely days all gone by when there were only a very few brown-shingled "cottages" situated on rocky, isolated promontories above the Atlantic with big wide porches decked in white or cream-colored trim and green shutters, they were a pleasant, inspiring sight -- the stuff that dreams are made on.

Today, the surfside clutter appears vulgar, exhibitionistic, and monumentally insensitive to its surroundings.

Once any visible phenomenon becomes too popular it invariably turns itself into a blight. (Cellphones immediately spring to mind! ;-)

But again, the PUBLIC should NEVER be help responsible for restoring PRIVATELY HELD LUXURIES of ANY kind to WEALTHY people.

~ FreeTninke

Anonymous said...

Obama is gong to need a much bigger Bus soon. The bottom of this one is getting over crowded.

Anonymous said...

The nanny state isn't just for the middle class and the poor, is it? But, this rediculus policy doesn't just work for the rich. I know for a fact in the Missouri flood plaims, modest house of 100 thousands dollars in value have been rebuilt by the tax payer threee, four and five times. The insanity knows no bounds. It will, however, come to an abrupt end in the not to distant future. What can't go on, won't!

Jersey McJones said...

Well, if the study recently commissioned by the World Bank is right, there's going to be a lot more flooding in the future!


Silverfiddle said...

So Jersey, that begs the question. Why is a government that believes in Global Warming paying people to live in disaster-prone areas and flood planes?

Ducky's here said...

So, conservativeson fire (I wish), should we relocate everyone in the Mississippi flood plain? Just tear up whole communities like that?

How about working class neighborhoods in the old mill towns in the Merrimack valley that are now being flooded frequently? Just tell them to fuck off and mouth some bullshit fringe right wing cliche?

Like a typical fringe righty you haven't given this any thought whatsoever.

I don't know what you can do about a grifter like Stoessel. Means test anyone who rebuilds over a certain threshold after the first catastrophe? Reevaluate the risk?

I know these Libertarian butt nuggets like Stossel don't like "mark to market" as we saw in their huge scam that nearly brought down global finance.
Maybe in order to protect people who live in poorer flood prone communities and have everything invested in a modest home we accept shit bags like Stossel.
Might be the only way but we sure as hell shouldn't be listening to this butt nugget brag about what a stinking scam artist he is.

Full disclosure: I loath Stossel more than the average lamer since he listed Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible on his list of worst films ever made.
Freethinker, that's like listing Beethoven's Große Fuge on the list of world's worst music.

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: Obviously, your answer is to continue the government-sponsored failure. At least you are consistent.

Ducky's here said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ducky's here said...

No Silver, my purpose is to point out that the program has a valid purpose and also flaws and that trying to explain that to a fringe right winger is pointless because the fringe righties lose their bearings when they are forced not to discourse in absolutes.

Silverfiddle said...

So what is the "valid purpose" of ignoring the actuarials and encouraging people to build homes where statistics say they should not?

skudrunner said...

With you on Stoessel. He sees it as his job to uncover waste and point out needless government programs.
How dare he question the wisdom of the federal government. Unlike Wallace, Ed and Madcow, Stoessel believes in a smaller government, just what the hell is he thinking.

Ducky's here said...

As I stated Silverfiddle, some people have little choice but to live in a potential flood plane.
Since the private market is incapable of providing insurance to prevent these people from being wiped out and becoming indigent (a cost that a butt nugget Libertarian dilettante like Stossel can't comprehend) I believe it is a valid function of government.

Now, should we limit the Federal liability and bill the insured consistent with making the insurance as low a cost to the treasury as possible. yes.
One thing that means is putting a ceiling on coverage so that Stossel pays up if he wants to be fully covered.

I also oppose any help to idiots who build in areas of Colorado where they are threatened by fire (Irony sign is: UP).

Jersey McJones said...

Well, this issue is a little more complex than I think is being presented here. For example, there are areas that happen to be ideal for certain types of agro and other development activity that for good reason happen to be flood prone.

The politics of development in low lying coastal areas makes for pressure on politicians regarding decisions about things like flood and wind insurance, off shore oil drilling, and other sorts of economic development.

Then of course there's fish. Lots of people eat fish, and so lots of people live near fish.

So, there's a lot to this. But I wouldn't expect the politics to change, as wealthy people like living near the sea, and wealthy people are disproportionately represented in our government - especially after the citizens United decision, the worst SCOTUS decision in generations.


Trekkie4Ever said...

Even if I had the money, I would never build my house on the beach, no way!!

It's expensive and not worth losing all of your prized possessions. Because of high waves, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc.

Ducky's here said...

"Rich people get insurance subsidized by poor people, build on beaches.... Their houses get washed away, and poor people pay to rebuild.... It's a reason we're totally bankrupt."

I wonder if Stossel has any information on attempts to restrict this kind of building or restrict the insurance.
I know it comes up every time Galveston gets swept away.
But it is an excellent example of how a reasonable idea that can be beneficial is warped by the wealthy.

Reforms have been long overdue but as long as this is the only way Stossel can keep rebuilding his ilk will block reform and enlist his flunkies to push bullshit stories about Welfare Cadillacs.

And the Libertarians will absolutely fail to see that the program properly formed serves a valid purpose. Challenges their warped concept of government.

Silverfiddle said...

"Since the private market is incapable of providing insurance to prevent these people from being wiped out and becoming indigent (a cost that a butt nugget Libertarian dilettante like Stossel can't comprehend) I believe it is a valid function of government."

Of course you do, Ducky. The private market is also "incapable" of writing a life insurance policy for you when you are teetering on the edge of a cliff.

That no one will insure you tells you that you are in a parlous condition.

As I say at the end, Big Government statists will not understand the point of this post.

And I'm with you on the wildfires as well, but can you believe it? Your big government confreres want to set up the money-wasting equivalent of the National Flood Insurance Program for wildfires.

I am dead set against that. People should foot the bill for the risk of their activities.

I am however, for people suing the National Forest Service for bowing to the environuts who won't let them clear underbrush and who won't allow them to let a fire burn.

We have "managed" our forests to the point that we have millions of acres of tinderboxes.

Forests naturally manage themselves, but we can't let them burn anymore because people live there now, and if we did let them burn now there'd be nothing left because there is so much dry deadfall in there.

Another fine mess brought to us by the US Government.

Silverfiddle said...

Here's a link to a short NY Times article on forests fires and forest management policy.

I almost agree with the commenter who said:

"People should not live in fire zones or flood zones"

My only change would be that people can live there, but don't shakedown taxpayers to reimburse them when the inevitable insurable event destroys their home.

This is is not Bangladesh. American is a big country, people don't have to live in these areas.

Finntann said...

Ducky, it's not rocket science.

You let the NFIP stand as is, with one adjustment. In the event of a full payout (total) you compensate them for the house and land and the property is condemned and reverts to the government.

When an insurance company totals your vehicle, the wreckage belongs to the insurance company. Same principal.

That way, your poor beachfront homeowners are not much worse off than from the results of the storm... i.e. homeless. Even if they are rebuilding, they still need to find some other place to live until the new home is constructed. Look at it this way, you're saving them the inconvenience of two moves instead of one.

Exclusions can be made for agricultural and industrial areas (docks, warehouses, refineries, etc.) that require access to bodies of water.

Alternatively, you could also allow them to keep the land with the stipulation it will not be reinsured by the federal government.

Same principle could apply to any government subsidized insurance program for wildfires, or volcanoes, or whatever.

Being libertarian doesn't necessarily mean being stupid. Like the man said, if it hurts when you bang your head on the wall, DON'T BANG YOUR HEAD ON THE WALL!

As I've said before, freedom doesn't mean the rest of us have to suffer the consequences of your (repeatedly) poor decisions.


Divine Theatre said...

Yet one cannot open a business on Chicago's South Side because the insurance is either too high or no one will insure you. Hmmm.

viburnum said...


I might support that idea for existing housing, but exclude new construction below some arbitrary elevation above flood stage. It should be incumbent on realtors to inform people as well. I'll bet half the people on Staten Island didn't have a clue the Atlantic could wind up in their front yard.

@ Ducky

I think I recall reading something about the Merrimack ( not certain, but somewhere in New England ) where people were complaining that the EPA and Corps of Engineers were taking out the dams that had assured water for the old mills and provided a measure of flood control in the interest of having 'natural' rivers. A fine idea in the abstract, but they're no longer surrounded by a 'natural' landscape. Concrete, asphalt, and roofing just create runoff that exacerbates the flooding.

Finntann said...

@but exclude new construction below some arbitrary elevation above flood stage

With you 100%, but I wasn't attempting to address new construction which is easily handled by zoning.

On another note, I read the linked NY Times article and it is yellow journalism at its best.

There is no climatological evidence that the number or intensity of tropical storms is increasing. 2000-2010 was below the median average for number of storms, as were the decades preceding it.

In the past 16 decades 9 have had more storms and 5 have had less, 1 decade tied (1850-1859).

Storms are not getting worse, nor are they striking NY-NE with increasing frequency.

The 13 foot storm surge of Sandy is matched by that of the 1821 hurricane, and is well under the 30 ft storm surge from 1893.

Far from being the 'new norm' claimed by Harvard geologist Dan Schrag claimed... it's the old norm.

Mr Hockey Stick himself, Michael Mann, attributed the storm surge to the rise in sea-levels, and I agree with him... without the one foot rise in sea levels the 13 foot storm surge would have been 12 feet.

Nothing to see here... move along!