Tuesday, August 30, 2005

New Orleans is Sinking! Don't Worry, We'll Pay For It!

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it is proper that we revisit John Stossel's Confessions of a Welfare Queen.

In 1980 I built a wonderful beach house. Four bedrooms -- every room with a view of the Atlantic Ocean.

It was an absurd place to build, right on the edge of the ocean. All that stood between my house and ruin was a hundred feet of sand. My father told me: "Don’t do it; it’s too risky. No one should build so close to an ocean."

But I built anyway.

Why? As my eager-for-the-business architect said, "Why not? If the ocean destroys your house, the government will pay for a new one."

What? Why would the government do that? Why would it encourage people to build in such risky places? That would be insane.

But the architect was right. If the ocean took my house, Uncle Sam would pay to replace it under the National Flood Insurance Program. Since private insurers weren’t dumb enough to sell cheap insurance to people who built on the edges of oceans or rivers, Congress decided the government should step in and do it. So if the ocean ate what I built, I could rebuild and rebuild again and again -- there was no limit to the number of claims on the same property in the same location -- up to a maximum of $250,000 per house per flood. And you taxpayers would pay for it.


I did have to pay insurance premiums, but they were dirt cheap -- mine never exceeded a few hundred dollars a year.

Why does Uncle Sam offer me cheap insurance? "It saves federal dollars," replied James Lee Witt, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), when I did a 20/20 report on this boondoggle. "If this insurance wasn’t here," he said, "then people would be building in those areas anyway. Then it would cost the American taxpayers more [in relief funds] if a disaster hit."

That’s government logic: Since we always mindlessly use taxpayer money to bail out every idiot who takes an expensive risk, let’s get some money up front by selling them insurance first.

The insurance, of course, has encouraged more people to build on the edges of rivers and oceans. The National Flood Insurance Program is currently the biggest property insurance writer in the United States, putting taxpayers on the hook for more than $640 billion in property. Subsidized insurance goes to movie stars in Malibu, to rich people in Kennebunkport (where the Bush family has its vacation compound), to rich people in Hyannis (where the Kennedy family has its), and to all sorts of people like me who ought to be paying our own way.

Read the rest.

Friday, August 26, 2005

A Cindy Sheehan article worth reading (before she withers away)

I really enjoy reading articles where the author has the guts to question someone's core motivations and/or mental state. Even if the author is wrong, it is typically entertaining to read someone who is exploring what makes someone tick.

Michael Reagan rips out the Freud to postulate that Cindy Sheehan's real enemy is her own self.

Sigmund Freud had a concept he called “projection, which has been defined as a defense where the ego deals with unacceptable impulses and/or terrifying anxieties by attributing them to someone in the external world.

In many ways I think that explains the behavior of the media’s current patron saint, Cindy Sheehan, whose hate rhetoric aimed at President Bush is really meant for someone else who she can’t admit even to herself is her real target. To do so would represent one of those “unacceptable impulses” Dr. Freud was talking about.

Such is clear by her body language and mystically-laced rhetoric alone. She repeats her anti-freedom socialist mantras (e.g. in the same manner a religious nut carries on about accepting the glory of Jesus or Allah into our lives) to a willing press corp.

The media can only hide Sheehan's absurd leftism for so long before most Americans realize what she is up to - and why. If this is the best they can do - let us rejoice and be glad!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Political parties dying in the face of decentralization

From the SF Gate:
Sen. John F. Kerry told state legislators Friday the Democratic Party doesn't need to undergo an extreme makeover, saying "the last thing America needs is a second Republican Party."

Kerry is correct - there is no benefit for the democratic party (as a unit) to align their message closer to republicans. Additionally, and thankfully, nothing good will result with a further slide to the left. With Europe as the sandbox for a more advanced socialism, why should we follow suit when the outcome of statism is clear? Americans are not blind. Democrats can't change their message - the party is dead (not that republicanism is alive and kicking either).

The 21st century is about decentralization. The political party model, which relies on restricting the rights of one or more "groups" in order to benefit a select few can not survive in an era where the individual has more power than the group.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Peggy Noonan chimes in on the Clinton-Bush lovefest

I noted on June 18, 2004, that the chuminess of President Bush and Bill Clinton was a bit odd and clearly calculated.

...is it possible that there is a deeper motivation than a common exchange of pleasantries? Let me posit Bill Clinton may purposely be undermining John Kerry’s presidential aspirations. The latest Pew Research polls suggest Bush is turning back up in the polls. Perhaps Clinton’s remarks have convinced some of the swing voters who respected Clinton but have questions about Kerry.


Assuming the election is down to the wire, consider the potential effect Clinton’s timely words and summer-long book tour might have on the Kerry team. Further, consider his motivation. Might he be keeping the door open for Hillary in 2008. As he is the consummate politician of our time, I wouldn’t put it past him.

Today, Peggy Noonan raises some interesting points on the super-chum stylings of the Senior Bush and Mr. Clinton relationship.

What does Democrat Bill Clinton get out of cultivating the Republican Bushes? He gets public approval from a man most of the country sees as personally upstanding. When Mr. Bush puts his arm around Mr. Clinton, he confers his rectitude. Democrats won't mind it, and independent voters will like it. In receiving the embrace of the patriarch of such a famously Republican family, Mr. Clinton looks like someone who is, by definition, nonradical, mainstream, not too unacceptably odd and grifter-ish. Big bonus: Mr. Clinton knows that when he receives Mr. Bush's affectionate approval, his wife, who will soon be running for president, also seems by extension to be receiving it. This is good for her. Both Clintons pick up some positive attention from on-the-ground Republicans. This is good too.

What does the elder Mr. Bush get out of it? He burnishes his reputation for personal generosity and a certain above-it-all nonpartisanship. He shows he's not narrow like a conservative, but national like a great leader. This has a spillover effect on his son, the incumbent president. The more his father embraces the foe, the more embracing the current President Bush looks. By publicly declaring his closeness with Mr. Clinton, Mr. Bush senior demonstrates a high minded interest in political comity and a rejection of mere party politics, unlike the low little people who are inspired by animus and always getting het up about their little issues. Would a former president Pat Buchanan hug a former president Clinton? Huh, go dream.

So Mr. Clinton does it because it's good for himself and for his wife's prospects. Mr. Bush does it because it's good for himself and his son.

Do you trust either one of them?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Build it!

An artist's drawing released Wednesday, July 27, 2005, by The Fordham Company shows the proposed Fordham Spire skyscraper planned for the Chicago lakefront. The 115-story tower is proposed by Chicago developer Christopher Carley and designed by noted architect Santiago Calatrava. Over the past 20 years, dozens of high-rise projects such as the Spire have been introduced as reaching record-breaking heights worldwide, but most of the projects are often either scaled down or scrapped before being built. (AP Photo/The Fordham Company)

Fordham Spire Images
Chicago skyscraper would be nation's tallest
Santiago Calatrava - Fordham Spire