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Tim Kern, Talking Sense

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Location: Anderson, IN, United States

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Fool Me Once, Twice, Three Times...

Idiocy rises to the top, bouyed by greed and selfishness. That seems to be one explanation for FEMA's continued support of building in flood-prone areas.

A Washington Post Oct 11 front page story by Gilbert Gaul said, "The pattern of federal flood payments on Dauphin Island [AL] illustrates the growing share going to properties that get hit over and over. Federal data show that 300 buildings with multiple losses account for more than two-thirds of all flood payments the town has ever received -- $21.3 million. Katrina claims could add tens of millions."

He continued, "Nationally, properties with multiple losses account for about 25 percent of the flood program's losses while representing 2 percent of all insured property."

Now, if we are learning lessons at all, we shouldn't be insuring two-time loser properties, especially when those risks are underwritten by the very people who have enough sense to stay away from hurricane magnets like Dauphin Island.

If the builders on that island (and countless other coastal properties) can't get private insurance, they need to reassess their plans. They have no right to expect "the federal government" (the rest of us) to pay for their folly. Sure, they pay premia to FEMA, but those payments are obviously below market value (or the market would take care of the insurance). The government has no right to subsidize insurance payments for anyone; and it's irresponsible to use our money to effectively encourage already-stupid people to do ever-more-stupid things.

Beyond the obvious, the federal government's insuring anybody for anything is a conflict with what's left of free enterprise in the insurance sector. Private insurers provide a measure of 'concept-checking,' as people consider building in risky places; cheaper insurance than experience shows would be prudent (FEMA insurance) merely encourages uneconomic behavior.

I have no problem with anyone's building wherever he or she wants; I just don't think it's my job, as a taxpayer, to make it easier for them to set themselves up for a fall. Further, I don't see where there is any constitutional permission for the federal government to be doing anything like getting into the insurance business.

If the economies (government coffers) of Dauphin Island and other flood-prone places suffer because people don't rebuild there, that's too bad. With fewer residents and properties to regulate, they wouldn't need so much money, anyway.

And maybe people should pay their own way to live where they want, whether it's in a sensible place, or some risky venue like, um, places where it floods all the time.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Let's All Believe Clinton, This Time

Bill Clinton's upset about what former FBI director Louis Freeh is saying: that Clinton went easy on the Saudis over the Khobar Towers bombing in return for a contribution to his presidential library fund.

Clinton still owes Freeh, big-time, for deflecting public wrath and for his splendid planning, execution, and coverup of the mass murders at Waco. (Hillary, too, should be in his debt, for providing the dirt on her 900 favorite political enemies and thus keeping her in position to move to the Senate.)

This little dust-up over the Saudi - Clinton library contribution is ridiculous.

First, nobody should believe Clinton about anything, as he has never told the truth, even when it didn't matter if he did.

Second, any observer would know that such a quid pro quo is totally in the nature of politics in general and the Clintons in particular.

Third, finding more people who can swear to the ex-president's probity is no big deal. I remember when he paraded his whole cabinet out, like a jury being polled, and had them say they all believed him on Lewinsky. Of course, even after Clinton was proven to have lied, none of those cabinet members' judgment was questioned. [If, for instance, Madeline Albright, who dealt with the Pres daily, couldn't tell when he was lying, how could she possibly have understood the affairs of State? How good would her judgment have been, dealing with people whom she barely knew, and on whose statements she had little background?]

Fourth, Berger is a documented crook, who would do/say anything to stay in Clinton's good graces. (He probably remembers what happened to James MacDougal and Vince Foster, among others.)

Unfortunately, the media will believe Clinton, and keep scrubbing the poop off his carcass. He's just such a lovable lug, you know...