We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Thursday, August 31. 2017
For examples, when a river overflows its banks it delivers fresh silt and soil to the flood plain, rejuvenating it (eg the Nile, eg the Mississippi Delta). When a strong storm blows through a forest and knocks down miles of trees, it restarts the forest cycle providing fresh habitat for all sorts of species who live in forest openings. For the Indians, that was an excellent thing.
The disaster part is man-defined, not nature-defined. When people build on flood plains (eg Houston) or on sea-level marshes (New Orleans), big trouble is predictable. And when man covers those flood zones with asphalt and buildings, or alters rivers with canals and levees, it makes it all worse.
Excellent essay by Grunwald at Politico: How Washington Made Harvey Worse - A federal insurance program made Harvey far more costly—and Congress could have known it was coming.
Of course governments and benevolent souls have to step in when these "natural disasters" threaten lives, but a good way to think about it would be, in future at least, market pricing for flood and storm insurance. Let the actuaries figure out the real risk and cost of what people do and put a price on that.
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Trouble is expected when you build where there are blizzards, or droughts, or tidal surges, or windstorms, or predatory animals too. I'm not sure where you think humans should live.
It's a question of degree. Everything is risk-benefit. It is likely that humans under-rate risks when they find a location they'd like to put a cave.
Most homeowner's insurance prices most things in. Flood ins. and some storm ins. is a government deal. I am not sure how "acts of God" fit in.
Sam, here's another forseeable disaster - building Seoul, Korea within cannon and short-range firing distance from the Nork DMZ.
By 1953, South Korea was a devastated 3rd world agriculture-based culture. (the North had been the tech/industrial part pre-WWII) They have astoundingly pulled themselves up by their bootstraps (with some of our help) to become an economic and technology leader. But they could have developed their major cit(ies) well south of the DMZ.
Similarly, Houston has been a growing economic and tech/industrial center, which could have been built on higher ground. "Hindsight is 20/20".
Don't you mean maintaining it there? Seoul is a very old city. What were they going to do? Move it?
yes, it was a grave mistake to rebuild and grow it there next to the DMZ. Seoul was small, and fully devastated/destroyed by the war (control of Seoul changed 4 times as armies swept back and forth re-destroying it until 1953). I was there a few months ago - its all "new" since 1953. The 5 chaebols and government which controlled it, could have planned better.
Same with Houston - it too is "old" by US standards, favored early by ship canal no longer economically necessary for the millions who live there. It has a very large area within its city limits - building on extreme lowlands could be prohibited (make the lowlands all parks, forest preserves, lakes, and runoff channels etc, with excavated earth used to build up occupied areas, elevated roadways and access). My only point was to generalize the News Junkie's theme that many disasters are anthropogenic (a word we learned from "global climate change" believers) with catastrophic risks which are forseeable and could be minimized with forethought. Except it is sometimes too difficult for humans to actually carry out.
I'm not sure that's even logical, for a variety of reasons.
For one, the city was already being rebuilt as the war progressed. There was no way they'd know how close to a DMZ they'd be - nobody expected a DMZ.
Secondly, you had huge numbers of people who called it 'home' and were probably unlikely or unwilling to give up on it.
Third, its location, from a geographical standpoint, was critical. The river was a trade route - and the assumption was it would be for some time to come (until the DMZ used its estuary as a demarcation line). But it's also close to the major port of Inchon.
The city started being rebuilt when the UN took it over in 1951, long before the DMZ was in place.
So yeah, maybe it would be nice to think "we can move this entire city 100 miles east/south" but the practical aspects of this seem rather unlikely.
Now Detroit - that's a WHOLE DIFFERENT issue.
Bulldog, glad to see you agree with the News Junkie (and me).
You must have seen that iconic before-and-after comparison:
aerial photos of Detroit and Hiroshima in 1945 after the a-bomb
aerial photos of Detroit and Hiroshima in about 2015 or so.
2 different (wo)man-made disasters (to be PC).
I lived in Korea for awhile. The central government was always trying to decentralize the country away from Seoul but with little success.
My Korean colleagues explained, after one such relocation of the government corporation we were working at, that they would keep their homes in Seoul so that their children would have the educational and employment advantages of living in the central city.
There are still sectional rivalries in Korea but Seoul is the one uniter. Busan is an alternate economic center but it palls compared to Seoul. Besides, every thoughtful Korean I talked with strongly discounted another war with the North. I think they are avoiding the threat.
Government policy falls in the face of individual and familial ambitions.
We have the knowledge/technology to build homes that will stand up to hurricanes and fires. We are certainly smart enough to identify flood plains and to restrict building on them. And it doesn't take a rocket scientists to choose higher elevation building sites for hospitals, fire and police, schools, perhaps even food warehouses. It might be a brilliant idea to build main highways at the same but elevated level so that they are passable in the event of a flood and obviously to build culverts to allow water to pass without washing out the road. These are simple things. It might also make sense for cities like Huston that are prone to flooding to build channels that will allow the water to flow to the ocean quickly.
By not allowing the market to send proper signalswith pricing, all natural disasters are magnified. There is no such thing as price 'gouging'.
Agreed. The people who complain about price gouging seldom give their services away for free. Once something moves to a sad kitties level, there is this expectation that everyone (else) should stop worrying about supporting their own children. Because sad. While there are certainly some sociopaths in every field of endeavor who care only for their own advantage, that is true in times of calm as well as times of emergency.
The "price gougers" find customers. This is a signal. People bring a truckload of plywood into a distressed area, putting themselves in some minor danger and major inconvenience, and get paid handsomely for this small thing. Yes, it would be lovely and inspiring if they gave it away free, but I think fewer truckloads would arrive if only those were allowed. And the plywood is needed.
Which do you want? Inspiring stories, or plywood?
The Federal flood insurance thingy is hugely in the red. Why? Because they don't charge premiums proportionate to the risk. The insurance companies don't insure against the risk because, A. They won't insure those places most prone to flooding risk, B. They can't charge a premium appropriate to the risk, and, related to B., C. The government offers a lower priced policy.
Add to this the fact that the uninsured are usually compensated for their losses by the Feds, it is no wonder people won't pay the premiums needed to cover the risk.
What no one will talk about - as it would be unseemly to do so - is why we all agree to compensate folks that suffer loss of property in high risk flood zones. Let the property owner bear the cost of the loss, especially if they do not have insurance, and see how quickly they stop building in high risk areas.
Subsidizing bad behavior creates worse behavior. So git the goldern government out of manufacturing chaos as those critters thrive on subsidizing every type of bad behavior. How else would they make their wealth off of pay-to-play?
What other job allows you to enter it using other people's money, then makes you a millionaire spending other people's money?
The blame for our huge flood costs lies with another Texan - Lyndon Johnson.
He pushed Congress to establish federal flood insurance.
Where I grew up in Florida, the locals used to say that on the nearby barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico, only fools and damn Yankees built there. That changed with LBJ.
Now the island is covered with vacation homes and high rises. In case of a hurricane is is conceivable that the sole escape route would be so clogged that many would still be on the island when the surge hit. It is a disaster waiting to happen.