Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Should we quit building on the coasts?

In an article on cnn.com, Carl Safina argues that it is foolish for people to rebuild in the wake of hurricane Sandy. The article is a good read and brings up a lot good points. The main argument is:

"The government should at this time help victims get their lives back on track. But no federal dollars should magically appear for rebuilding in flood-prone areas. The spots that flood will take repeated hits. Everyone knows this. To help people rebuild in those places is to help put lives and investment in harm's way. It's foolish."

I agree with him that rebuilding should not be subsidized with federal dollars. I also agree with him about ending federal flood insurance, insurance that is priced artificially low and distorts the true cost of living on the coasts. Mr. Safina himself has federal flood insurance and asks to be cut off. From the article:

"Insurance for new building in flood-prone areas should be ended. People who really want to take their chances should do just that, or pay real commercial insurance premiums if they can find a willing insurer. Eventually even Lloyd's of London will likely decide it's had enough. Insurers must be realistic about risk in ways politicians don't have to be."

Some people might say that this is unfair, but what is really unfair is coastal living being subsidized by inland taxpayers. Sure we would all like to live on the beach, but with accurately priced insurance premiums it is prohibitively expensive for most of us. It is time that we recognize this and quit rebuilding only to watch all of those resources be destroyed by the next storm.

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