Sunday, April 30, 2006

paying for katrina II, the sequel

It's gonna get harder and harder to get insurance for homeowners in the southeastern US. Insurers are pulling out of entire states, leery of exposure to increasing numbers of increasingly powerful Katrina-style hurricanes. Look for federal taxpayers in the sane states (you know, states that actually have state taxes and provide some state services) to subsidize the Trent Lotts of the world as warmer waters continue to generate stronger hurricanes.

Conservatives could make the argument that the free market should provide for insurance, and anti-federal/pro-state conservatives could make the argument that paying for destroyed private homes is not a federal responsibility. But they won't, because they come from states like Mississippi and Georgia that are at increased risk to hurricanes, and have constituents who are unable or unwilling to buy private or Federal insurance. So when Hurricane Zach or whatever comes and sweeps Bug Hollow into the Gulf of Mexico, these same staunch free-market, everybody-must-take-personal-responsibility-for- their-actions conservatives will insist that we use federal (not state!) taxes to make good the losses of the 98% of the good citizens of Bug Hollow whose homes were uninsured. And people in Seattle and Chicago and New York and Los Angeles and Philadelphia will pay.

Look, it's not that I mind helping citizens who have their homes and/or livelihoods wiped out by natural disaster. I don't. I agree it is an appropriate Federal responsibility -- a responsibility, incidentally, that also gives us power to try to weigh the risks and regulate appropriately to lower our collective exposure to loss, for example by banning further development on flood-vulnerable barrier islands and refusing to allow people to rebuild on them when homes are wiped out.

What I don't like is the rank hypocrisy of the typical conservative, usually Republican legislator who bitches and moans about Federal taxes and whinges and whines about how the Federal government shouldn't interfere and shouldn't give money to freeloaders and should give the states more responsibility, but IMMEDIATELY nuzzles up to the Federal teat as soon as something goes wrong for HIS non-insurance-buying constituents. I also don't like the typical conservative's constant quest for corporate subsidies but that's a different topic...