Why Should Taxpayers Pay for Hurricane Damage?

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  1. crankalicious profile image94
    crankaliciousposted 10 months ago

    Isn't this a basic conservative principle of government?

    If you live on a coast, you should assume the full responsibility of the things that come with living on the coast, including hurricanes. If you live in Texas or Louisiana, it's practically a given that there's going to be flooding from some kind of natural weather event, so why should taxpayers be forced to pay for all that damage when it always happens?

    If you live in California, there's going to be an earthquake.

    Taxpayers in other parts of the country should not be responsible for the decisions others make about where they live.

    Agree or Disagree?

    1. lions44 profile image98
      lions44posted 10 months agoin reply to this

      But there is a government permitting process to build anything. Therefore, if a local government (usually with some form of federal housing $$ or DOT $$) allows a subdivision or apartment building to be built near a body of water, they are essentially accepting part of the responsibility for the structural integrity/safety of the complex.   If government had no role in the building process, then yes, I would say liability would fall entirely on the owners. 
      I don't know if any of this has been adjudicated in the courts recently, so maybe if there's somebody on HP that knows legal history they could fill us in. 
      Because federal funds are involved in almost anything built anywhere, we have a shared responsibility to help.

      1. GA Anderson profile image81
        GA Andersonposted 10 months agoin reply to this

        Hi Lions44, I can follow your logic right up to the Federal monies part. I can see municipal permitting as a string attaching some responsibility, but I can't see the municipal use of Federal funds in their decisions as extending that responsibility to the Federal government.

        GA

    2. promisem profile image97
      promisemposted 10 months agoin reply to this

      It's government insurance. I pay taxes to clean up Texas but then maybe one day Texas residents will pay taxes to clean up a disaster in my state.

    3. jonnycomelately profile image83
      jonnycomelatelyposted 10 months agoin reply to this

      I would disagree.  The smaller the number of people landed with the bill, the larger the share each will have to pay. 
      If everyone contributes to the costs, then each will pay considerably less.
      A considerate, caring, unselfish society will be concerned for the  welfare of each and every member.
      What can any individual do to prevent the ravages of flood, or earthquake, or hurricane?  Virtually nothing of significance.  So why should the State/Nation not lend support when the worst happens?

      1. wilderness profile image96
        wildernessposted 10 months agoin reply to this

        "What can any individual do to prevent the ravages of flood, or earthquake, or hurricane?"

        But the individual can do much to prevent the monetary loss from the ravages of nature - it's called "insurance".  And, of course, there is the small problem of choosing to live and build in an area we know will be ravaged because it has happened every few years for centuries.

        1. jonnycomelately profile image83
          jonnycomelatelyposted 10 months agoin reply to this

          Then how about putting the onus back onto the developers who put their money into dodgy and risky areas.  If those developers are members of public bodies, like a town council, for example, then they would be the ones held responsible.  Put the responsibility and blame, if any, where it belongs.  Especially if corrupt developers are masquerading as honest, upright members of community.
          Make them personally answerable to the insurance companies, thus protecting public monies.

          1. wilderness profile image96
            wildernessposted 10 months agoin reply to this

            What's wrong with putting the onus where it belongs - on the people insisting on building/buying/owning homes in an area we KNOW will suffer natural disasters?  Can there be a person in the country that doesn't KNOW the gulf coast will have a hurricane in the next few years?  That doesn't KNOW Kansas will have tornadoes?  That doesn't KNOW California will have earthquakes?

            We all know this, yet keep living there. How about those that choose to do that cover their own costs?

            1. crankalicious profile image94
              crankaliciousposted 10 months agoin reply to this

              I admire your consistency, Wilderness, and that you're the only conservative so far to stand up for his values despite the devastation being wrought on Texas right now.

              It's one thing to suffer a catastrophic, random disaster. But what about those people who live on the coast, knowing that they will be hit by a hurricane. Or those that live on an active earthquake fault? Or those that live in a place labelled "tornado alley"?

              I'm not saying I know the answer, but it's a question that tends to divide people and is one that's interesting from the conservative and liberal point-of-view.

              1. wilderness profile image96
                wildernessposted 10 months agoin reply to this

                I don't know the answer either.  I just know that when New Orleans was virtually destroyed, for at least the second time in my memory, I got tired of seeing people demand that someone else take care of them.  They were there by choice, they knew what would happen, and chose to gamble.  And when the gamble failed (it's hard to win a gamble against certainty) the rest of us had to bail them out...again.  And now we're doing it for Galveston, Houston and the rest of SE Texas as they are drowned out again.

                We've made it so the choice to live in areas that WILL have natural disasters carries no penalty...except to the people that don't choose to live there.  Something's wrong with that picture.

                1. crankalicious profile image94
                  crankaliciousposted 10 months agoin reply to this

                  You might be surprised to know that, despite my overwhelming liberal leanings, I agree with you. Whenever the Mississippi floods, we're always bailing out the people who live right near the river. Well, since you know the river is going to flood, that maybe doesn't make the most sense.

                  In New Orleans, I'm sure that most people who live in the flood-ravaged areas don't have the economic means to move. And also, when homes are in an area like that, the prices tend to be such that it's an incentive to move there, despite the risk. So if you're poor, you're more likely to buy a home in an area that's prone to this sort of thing.

                  And every newscast I've listened to regarding Houston says that Houston is flood prone. Well, I know it rains in Houston. So it's probably 100% certain there will be flooding. And there's near 100% certainty that some kind of catastrophic event is going to happen. Not sure that's the taxpayers problem.

                  1. wilderness profile image96
                    wildernessposted 10 months agoin reply to this

                    The Mississippi floods mostly because the levee's built to control flooding are either insufficient or are not being maintained.  I didn't watch it all, but I have seen where the flooding in Houston is much the same; wetlands and such are being paved over with the inevitable result that hard rains will have nowhere to go and the city is thus flooded.

                    It IS a little hard to argue that our 4th largest city is on their own when a hurricane of this magnitude comes, but that doesn't mean (IMO) that every homeowner or business failing to protect themselves must be re-built by taxpayers. 

                    As far as home prices, I'm not familiar with them in either Houston or New Orleans but I have a really hard time believing that housing prices in large metropolitan areas are cheaper than that in small rural communities 100 miles away.

        2. GA Anderson profile image81
          GA Andersonposted 10 months agoin reply to this

          Wilderness, do you think your perspective of "choice" holds in an example like Houston? I noted, (in another comment), certain examples like building on beach dunes and barrier islands, or immediate river floodplains or levee basins, that seem to fit your principle of personal responsibility, but my thoughts on an example like Houston are that that principled position can't stand the reality of scale.

          Your principle would demand that coastlands and semi-coastal flatlands, (leaving earthquake and tornado examples aside, as being unnecessary to the point),  be declared uninhabitable by any but the wealthy that can afford to rebuild. Can you see that as a viable position in reality?

          GA

          1. wilderness profile image96
            wildernessposted 10 months agoin reply to this

            No.  I can't.  We need our coastlines too much for that, although we do have lots that don't get regular hurricanes.

            But I also can't see anyone else being forced to rebuild time after time, just so that folks can enjoy the southern beaches that the one footing the bill can't. As it is, when we keep re-building from the tax base there is no cost to voluntarily living in, and enjoying, those coastal flatlands.  A conundrum, then, and one that might be solved by your proposal.  If nothing else, when the second loan is needed before the first is re-paid, it will mean a much smaller residence/store/whatever, and a much lower bill for the public to put up.

            1. GA Anderson profile image81
              GA Andersonposted 10 months agoin reply to this

              You see... we can be Conservative-ish, and humanitarian too. Let's go tell Credence2.

              GA

              1. wilderness profile image96
                wildernessposted 10 months agoin reply to this

                No!  Don't do that!  The poor man will expire of either embarrassment or shock, right on the spot.

                But seriously - the more I see on the tube about Houston and surrounding areas, Harvey is not a run of the mill disaster that can be expected every few years or so.  This one is something different - that "500 year storm" that simply cannot be prepared for with any reasonable effort.  Whether they've paved over and destroyed their wetlands, whether they made reasonable efforts to control flood waters - nothing we might have done would have made any real difference this time.  If I were closer I'd be loading a U-Haul with water, food, blankets, etc. and heading to Houston.

    4. GA Anderson profile image81
      GA Andersonposted 10 months agoin reply to this

      You have posed a good question Crankalicious. The answers, I imagine, will define competing perspectives. But, I choose both - to agree and disagree.

      The Conservative, (as I see it has been labeled), principle that individual choice and responsibility should bear the costs is one I agree with, until that agreement runs into the reality of a Houston example. If one builds on a beach dune, or barrier island, or on a river floodplain, (like the Mississippi), or a levee-protected basin like New Orleans - then I can hold to that principle, none could be unaware of the reality of the danger.

      But, when considering an example like Houston, then my principled stance has to bend to the pragmatism of reality. Imagine the national impact of an economic hub of 2 million people left to recover on its own. Imagine that devastated city as an open sore - unhealing, with the infected rings of economic impact radiating outward through the nation. First the smaller surrounding cities and industries supported by Houston's economic needs and productions failing from those losses. An on further like the over-used ripples in a pond analogy.

      I don't think I could hold onto that Conservative principle in the face of a real example like Houston, (yet, is it hypocritical that I don't hold New Orleans in the Houston category?). If I insisted on it, then I would also have to justify huge territories that would have to be deemed uninhabitable for permanent structures. And that is where the pragmatist says there must be a bending.

      I even have an answer. Federal emergency assistance, (a la FEMA), in the form of assets and manpower to get through the immediate catastrophe, and then Federal loan assistance for the rest. No free money from taxpayers beyond the obvious costs of the FEMA efforts. But my vision of that FEMA-type assistance does not include efforts like the temporary housing debacle we saw with Katrina.

      GA

      1. wilderness profile image96
        wildernessposted 10 months agoin reply to this

        "(yet, is it hypocritical that I don't hold New Orleans in the Houston category?)"

        Yes.  Imagine the national impact of an economic hub of half a million people left to recover on its own. Imagine that devastated city as an open sore - unhealing, with the infected rings of economic impact radiating outward through the nation. First the smaller surrounding cities and industries supported by New Orleans's economic needs and productions failing from those losses.  Don't forget as well - New Orleans has the sixth largest port in the country.  While smaller than that of the Houston complex it is certainly significant. big_smile

        But I like your idea of taking care of emergency life and health needs and then providing interest free loans. 

        I'd add, though, that my vision of the Katrina housing debacle was that of hundreds of people complaining that their free housing wasn't as nice as their free section 8 housing, all while continuing to live in it long past any reasonable time period.

        1. GA Anderson profile image81
          GA Andersonposted 10 months agoin reply to this

          Wilderness, you are right, my "New Orleans" thought is a bit hypocritical. And I did expect to get called on it. But... there is something about the obviousness of the New Orleans' dangers that  - in my mind, just won't let it sit easy with the Houston example.

          I am still working on defining my thoughts about it, but as a comparison I might see choosing to live in New Orleans as similar to stepping up to a Craps table.

          GA

  2. Kathleen Cochran profile image81
    Kathleen Cochranposted 10 months ago

    promisem makes a good point but - I can't get or afford insurance if I skydive or scuba dive or participate in other inherently dangerous activities.  How is living in a dangerous place different?

  3. psycheskinner profile image81
    psycheskinnerposted 10 months ago

    No matter where you live nature can screw you over.  Its not an insurable risk, that why you either just let people die or have their lives ruined, or you have a tax supported fund.  I support having a tax supported fund.  Not just because its the civiilised thing to do, but because the next person being screwed over by nature might be me.

  4. Paul Wingert profile image75
    Paul Wingertposted 10 months ago

    Same as why should tax dollars pay for fire and police protection if you live in a high crime city? It's called socialism. Don't like it, buy your own road and private police force.

    1. GA Anderson profile image81
      GA Andersonposted 10 months agoin reply to this

      Close, but no cigar Paul, although some Federal dollars do get sent to such local organizations, (as grants), their primary funding is from local tax dollars. So yours isn't a comparable analogy.

      GA

 
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