Wednesday, August 31, 2005

What to Do about Hurricane-Risk Areas

I’ve noticed on TV that hordes of black people struggling to get out of the New Orleans mess left in the wake of Katrina’s devastation. They have no place to go, and no way to get there if they did. Meanwhile, the giant gaps in New Orleans’ protective levees have allowed the lake and river between which the city lies to flood the city.

Since the low average IQ (85) of blacks prevents them from competing for better jobs, I’m not surprised at the fact that the stragglers are mostly black, and that not a few are obese, for they are mostly welfare recipients, residents of projects, and other poor folks. Those who stayed in their homes are dead, dying, being rescued by helicopter, or wading out to nowhere. In the early aftermath of the hurricane, there are few places to go for shelter, food, and water. The domed stadium is the only available shelter, and many are far away from it.

Now I’m hearing reports, also no surprise, that as an exclamation point to the widespread looting by black people, armed black men are robbing fellow stragglers at gunpoint. I guess common looting is too much trouble. Or, maybe they slept late and missed the best loot.

While I’m wondering what can be done to clean up and rebuild the city, I know officials won’t do what really makes the most sense.

1. Conscript all those obese (and other) welfare recipients for clean-up work. It’s about time they did something to earn their keep. They don’t need wages or food stamps. They only need medical care and child care, and meals-for-labor so they can put in a good day’s work. They have no other beneficial use for their time.

2. Shoot any gun-toting marauder on sight.

3. Start a gigantic land fill project and cover New Orleans till the ground is 20 feet above sea level, then rebuild. Actually, it is stupid to build on the constantly changing river silt of the Mississippi delta. New Orleans should be moved 30 miles up-river.

4. Failing that, build a proper sea wall to keep New Orleans from flooding – experts can consult the Dutch on how to do that. An enormous sea wall has been protecting Holland from North Sea flooding quite effectively for years now.

5. Impose large taxes on everybody in risky coastal areas like New Orleans and Biloxi that everybody, especially the poor, must pay, and stockpile that money in interest-earning accounts to cover the cost of defending the city from hurricanes and floods. These taxes should be in the form of property ownership taxes and consumption taxes on everything sold within 30 miles of the coastline, from Destin to Brownsville, and the rate should be based on the history of damage in those areas from hurricanes and other natural disasters. Similar taxes should be applied to the coastal and earthquake zones of California, and the hurricane zones of south Florida.

6. Stop building government-subsidized housing in risky areas like New Orleans. Let society’s freeloaders live elsewhere, like out in the country.

7. Force insurance companies properly to insure high risk dwellings, and force residents and owners to pay the high premiums required, or don't let them build. As the wretched residents of Florida learned in the wake of 1992’s Andrew, insurance companies won’t even insure homes against hurricane damage any more, and many insurance companies won’t sell insurance here at all. Those who do charge exorbitant rates even in low-risk areas, to make up for the relatively low rates they charge in high-risk areas. If insurance companies were fair, they’d charge outrageously high rates for high risk areas, and give reasonable rates to people in low risk areas. That’ll only happen if the government forces it to happen.

The bottom line is that people need to pay for the privilege of living in risky areas of the country that are guaranteed eventually to cost the entire country a lot of money as a result of natural disasters like hurricanes. There’s no reason people living in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Birmingham, or Orlando should have to pay for hurricane damage in Galveston, New Orleans, Mobile, or Miami. Since such damage is both predictable and inevitable, residents of and visitors to high risk areas should pay for repairing the damages before they occur. Home owners should be required to carry insurance, and should pay the necessary premium.

Populations in risky areas would thin out if visitors and residents were made to pay the real cost in advance, whether through higher taxes, higher insurance premiums, or both. Eventually, the cities would be replaced by RV parks and they would contain only the homes of people who can afford it if the homes get washed away. In the case of New Orleans, I’d miss the French Quarter, but it’s just a tourist trap anyway.

As Earl Pitts would say, Wake Up, America! People who cannot afford the cost of living in high-risk areas should live elsewhere.

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