Red State Takers Lining Up

As the right wing blows its takers and makers horns they might want to catch a breath and see who the tune is all about.  It turns out that many Red State denizens have their hands out again and again as the Feds (that’s you and me, Jim) subsidize disaster insurance and then add rebuilding costs on top of that.

Across the nation, tens of billions of tax dollars have been spent on subsidizing coastal reconstruction in the aftermath of storms, usually with little consideration of whether it actually makes sense to keep rebuilding in disaster-prone areas. If history is any guide, a large fraction of the federal money allotted to New York, New Jersey and other states recovering from Hurricane Sandy — an amount that could exceed $30 billion — will be used the same way.

Tax money will go toward putting things back as they were, essentially duplicating the vulnerability that existed before the hurricane.

“We’re Americans, damn it,” said Robert S. Young, a North Carolina geologist who has studied the way communities like Dauphin Island respond to storms. “Retreat is a dirty word.”

This island community of roughly 1,300 year-round residents has become a symbol of that reflexive policy.

Like many other beachfront towns, Dauphin Island has benefited from the Stafford Act, a federal law that taps the United States Treasury for 75 percent or more of the cost of fixing storm-damaged infrastructure, like roads and utilities.

At least $80 million, adjusted for inflation, has gone into patching up this one island since 1979 — more than $60,000 for every permanent resident. That does not include payments of $72 million to homeowners from the highly subsidized federal flood insurance program.

Gillis and Barringer at NY Times

And of course, as I’ve previously posted, storms aren’t the half of it.  Drought was the biggest disaster in 2012.  Drought has hit Kansas — that would be Rick Santorum, not even Mitt Romney, country,– for several years and brought in tons of Federal dollars for that emergency.  As Kansas says:

…disaster payments [in 2010] were Kansas’ sixth largest cash crop.

That would be $160 million!

I won’t do it for you, but here’s NOAA’s list of billion dollar disasters between 1980-2005.  Scan the states where the damage happens; t’aint very blue.

I don’t get it.  Of course we want to help those in fall into disaster, but if the disaster is more or less predictable why should they get a pass to walk back into it?  Let’s have some numbers thrown at this stuff.  We have earthquakes in San Francisco, of course, and we’d like help when they happen.  But how often, and how much damage?  Run the re-build numbers for all declared disasters in the last 20 years.  Are they spread evenly or do they peak in certain areas?  Let’s get a mean and some averages.  Let’s drawn some red lines and say — here, no more!  You can build, sure.  But no subsidies and, if you need a helicopter rescue then, like in the Grand Canyon, you pay or have insurance that does.  This is not rocket science folks!

Added to that of course is the blurring line between Acts of God and Acts of God assisted by Man.  Probably we should drop that question and just look at the numbers.  Every forest fire in a given area drops the Federal insurance subsidy by 25%; every barrier breach along the Carolinas, ditto, and if the corn crop keeps failing it’s time to move to more drought resistant crops.  Nopal anymone?

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