This Is Houston, We Have A Problem..

2017-09-26_16-07-46.pngTexas is famous for their lack of regulations and for this discussion that means that they allowed thousands of homes around Houston to be built on floodplains. Of course most of the devastation from Irma is a direct result of that decision.  It is kind of ironic in a sad way that a State who almost hates the federal government now comes to it with hat in hand asking the rest of us to get them out of the problems they caused. Texas claims to be able to take care of themselves so maybe we should just let them do that now?

Lest we forget the consequences of the lack of Texas regulations, I want to go back to a report by the New York Times of the tragic explosion in West Texas in 2013:

Texas has always prided itself on its free-market posture. It is the only state that does not require companies to contribute to workers’ compensation coverage. It boasts the largest city in the country, Houston, with no zoning laws. It does not have a state fire code, and it prohibits smaller counties from having such codes. Some Texas counties even cite the lack of local fire codes as a reason for companies to move there.

But Texas has also had the nation’s highest number of workplace fatalities — more than 400 annually — for much of the past decade. Fires and explosions at Texas’ more than 1,300 chemical and industrial plants have cost as much in property damage as those in all the other states combined for the five years ending in May 2012. Compared with Illinois, which has the nation’s second-largest number of high-risk sites, more than 950, but tighter fire and safety rules, Texas had more than three times the number of accidents, four times the number of injuries and deaths, and 300 times the property damage costs

Source: New York Times May 9, 2013

With Texas being the execution capital of the world and hate safety regulations it seems pretty clear that they just don’t value life as much as most of us. I know Texas prides themselves on not have regulations about floodplains and pretty much everything else.  So, why should the rest of us have to pay for their recklessness? That is the question of the day for me.  They need to live with the consequences of their actions.  It is as simple as that. Or at the very least tell them next time you are on your own…

Doing Things Over And Over Again…

I suspect that most of you know the Albert Einstein quote about insanity that goes something like this:

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Well that seems to be the case with the current federal flood insurance.  It is deeply in debt due to all the climate events lately. Given the current stand on climate change by the Oval Office that problem is likely to increase in the coming years.  From what I have learned 80% the total payments go to a small part of the country. Some people have had their home rebuilt five or more times on the same site using federal flood insurance.  The purpose of this post is to question the logic of that strategy.

Here is a little snippet about them from my friends at the New York Times:

2017-09-05_11-38-50.pngA more realistic approach would be for lawmakers to offer incentives to homeowners and cities to reduce the number of homes at risk of catastrophic flooding. Congress could direct FEMA to help cities buy out homes that have flooded repeatedly. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that the government has spent about $5.5 billion since 1978 to rebuild 30,000 homes that have flooded as many as five times in a two- or three-year period. The group estimates that buying many of these homes would cost less than the government spends in rebuilding them over and over. FEMA does finance buyouts but it spends vastly more to rebuild properties

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/31/opinion/flood-insurance-program-.html

To me it just doesn’t make sense for the rest of us to pay taxes to support some bad choices others make as to where to live.  I am basically a Federalist but kind of think this sort of thing should be handled by each individual State. If you want to live in Florida you have to pay much higher Florida flood insurance premiums. Florida for the most part is only a few feet above ocean levels.

On an irony note, I know when Hurricane Sandy went through NJ and NY many of the congressmen from Texas balked at the federal government funding reconstruction.  Hypocritically, those same people (including Senator Cruz who was the most vocal) are at the forefront of getting federal dollars  for Harvey.   I see Irma may also head in that same direction for a super double whammy.  Wouldn’t that be ironic?

Maybe it is time to give all those Texans their wish and to get the Federal government out of the flood relief business and let the folks in Houston and even New Orleans move out of “hurricane alley”.