Stop Encouraging People to Live in Dangerous Places

Who will have the courage in the face of tragedy to change the government's disastrous policies?


Dynamite with a laser beam tho ||| Reason

There are few things as distressingly predictable as our federal government's (and national media's) idiotic natural-disaster politics. Most every rational observer who has looked closely at government policy will tell you that the state's serial intervention in insurance markets has encouraged people to build in dangerous areas they otherwise would not, a moral hazard which is then compounded by post-calamity bailout packages politicians compete with one another to add zeros to, while the few straggling heretics are ritually shamed until next time. As I mentioned when interviewing our own Ron Bailey, "It's very, very difficult, people pay attention to these stories precisely when there's a catastrophe, and that's when their appetite for hearing about preserving perverse incentives and government waste is at its all-time lowest."

And so today I have a piece in the L.A. Times, arguing that "Now's the time to talk about flood insurance, and moral hazard." This is how it starts; I have inserted brackets to reflect the differing style guides of Spring Street and Libertopia:

Q: What do you call a congressman who votes against emergency aid for hurricane victims?

A: A "piece of [shit]"

Sure, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce later apologized for that particular characterization of the libertarian-leaning Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who was one of just three members of the House of Representatives brave and/or foolish enough to vote against the $7.85-billion Hurricane Harvey relief bill. But generally speaking, this is how the public treats heretics who oppose blank checks during times of crisis.

That's a shame because the Scrooges have a point, even if you don't share their (and my) concern over a national debt that zoomed past the $20-trillion mark last week. The fact is that existing government policy encourages too many people to live in harm's way.

Read the whole thing here. Then check out Katherine Mangu-Ward's, "7 Things Donald Trump Shouldn't Do After Hurricane Harvey."