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As Coasts Rebuild and U.S. Pays, Repeatedly, the Critics Ask Why
The New York Times ^ | 18 Nov 2012 | JUSTIN GILLIS and FELICITY BARRINGER

Posted on 11/19/2012 9:25:04 AM PST by Theoria

DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. — Even in the off season, the pastel beach houses lining a skinny strip of sand here are a testament to the good life.

They are also a monument to the generosity of the federal government.

The western end of this Gulf Coast island has proved to be one of the most hazardous places in the country for waterfront property. Since 1979, nearly a dozen hurricanes and large storms have rolled in and knocked down houses, chewed up sewers and water pipes and hurled sand onto the roads.

Yet time and again, checks from Washington have allowed the town to put itself back together.

Across the nation, tens of billions of tax dollars have been spent on subsidizing coastal reconstruction in the aftermath of storms, usually with little consideration of whether it actually makes sense to keep rebuilding in disaster-prone areas. If history is any guide, a large fraction of the federal money allotted to New York, New Jersey and other states recovering from Hurricane Sandy — an amount that could exceed $30 billion — will be used the same way.

Tax money will go toward putting things back as they were, essentially duplicating the vulnerability that existed before the hurricane.

“We’re Americans, damn it,” said Robert S. Young, a North Carolina geologist who has studied the way communities like Dauphin Island respond to storms. “Retreat is a dirty word.”

This island community of roughly 1,300 year-round residents has become a symbol of that reflexive policy.

Like many other beachfront towns, Dauphin Island has benefited from the Stafford Act, a federal law that taps the United States Treasury for 75 percent or more of the cost of fixing storm-damaged infrastructure, like roads and utilities.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Science; Society
KEYWORDS: alabama; bailout; coast; hurricane; ocean; subsidy; taxes; weather

1 posted on 11/19/2012 9:25:09 AM PST by Theoria
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To: Theoria
Some basic facts:

(1) Coasts are not just areas for recreation, but they are essential for commerce.

(2) Coastal areas generate enormous tax revenues, in the form of property taxes, seaborne commerce and tourism.

(3) Only a moron would argue that US coasts should be devoid of infrastructure and that such infrastructure should never be rebuilt - from a national security standpoint alone, this is foolish.

(4) Areas of the US that are far from the coast experience tornados, wildfires, earthquakes, avalanches, blizzards, storms and flooding - yet one rarely hears complaints about internal regions receiving federal aid to rebuild their infrastructure.

2 posted on 11/19/2012 9:39:11 AM PST by wideawake
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To: wideawake
If it is important then the State can pay for it. We are broke.

If it gets expensive to live on the coast then people who can afford to rebuild their properties and infrastructure will pay for it.

Someone living in a area not prone to natural hazards and such should not be subsidizing someone living in a flood zone or natural hazard area.

3 posted on 11/19/2012 9:43:54 AM PST by Theoria (Romney is a Pyrrhic victory.)
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To: Theoria

Wait till New York City has an earthquake. The NYT will be screaming to be rebuilt.


4 posted on 11/19/2012 9:49:21 AM PST by PghBaldy (Pete Hoekstra RE: Petraeus "There's more here than meets the eye.")
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To: Theoria
If it is important then the State can pay for it. We are broke.

Brilliant answer. Here's a thought: we are broke because we are spending trillions on Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. That's the vast bulk of the federal budget. In other words, most of the tax revenue is spent on programs that are wasteful and produce nothing that lasts.

Infrastructure spending actually drives revenue, by making it easier for people to conduct and grow businesses.

If it gets expensive to live on the coast then people who can afford to rebuild their properties and infrastructure will pay for it.

People will rebuild their properties. The issue here is infrastructure.

Someone living in a area not prone to natural hazards and such should not be subsidizing someone living in a flood zone or natural hazard area.

Everyone living in the US is living in a natural hazard area.

The NY/NJ coast gets a storm of this magnitude maybe once a century.

There are areas of the Midwest and South that get river flooding and tornadoes every few years.

Which community in America is immune from the elements? And how come I've never heard of it, since it must be a famous and desirable location?

5 posted on 11/19/2012 9:55:50 AM PST by wideawake
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To: Theoria

So... I guess we should not rebuild NYC after Sandy?

This article is a slap in the face of Staten Island, isn’t it?


6 posted on 11/19/2012 9:56:41 AM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: PghBaldy
The NYT will be screaming to be rebuilt.

Good point. In every other earthquake, the locals usually refuse all aid and assistance and quietly move away, never daring to rebuild.

But those selfish New Yorkers will probably ignore the natural human impulse to just give up, abandon one's home, and slink away.

Why can't they accept the nobility that comes with being a coward and a quitter?

7 posted on 11/19/2012 9:59:23 AM PST by wideawake
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To: GeronL
This article is a slap in the face of Staten Island, isn’t it?

Hey, it's their own fault for being Americans and foolishly deciding to live in an area of . . . America.

8 posted on 11/19/2012 10:00:57 AM PST by wideawake
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To: Theoria

Here in the Outer Banks of NC, if dunes are breached and the house is washed into the sea or can no longer be occupied, the property owner cannot rebuild. You see this from Kitty Hawk to Hatteras.


9 posted on 11/19/2012 10:05:14 AM PST by duckman (I'm part of the group pulling the wagon!)
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To: wideawake

New Orleans is mostly at below sea-level altitude.
New Orleans is next to the sea.
Does that make sense?


10 posted on 11/19/2012 10:08:26 AM PST by Reynoldo
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To: Theoria

Probably 99% of the homes on the west end of Dauphin Island where the most storm damage & erosion occurs are vacation homes. Many are for rental income. There are very few permanent residents on the west end, & for good reason - your property can easily wash away, every year!

We need to stop wasting money replacing infrastructure & rebuilding sand beaches that wash away, storm or no storm. We should buy up properties that file multiple flood damage claims, turning the land to public use and/or wetlands.


11 posted on 11/19/2012 10:21:31 AM PST by Mister Da (The mark of a wise man is not what he knows, but what he knows he doesn't know!)
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To: wideawake

I would add one more to your list. As each storm eats away at the existing coastline, the danger zone encroaches further inland, eating up commerce & infrastructure in it’s path.

I do think that beach re-nourishment should be a priority, as well as replacing damaged infrastructure, for this reason. (It is foolhardy, imho, to passive-aggressively refuse to rebuild TX 87 from Sabine Pass to High Island & will place SE Texas in a similar situation to Louisiana, eventually.)

Individuals & businesses along the coasts should be protected by private insurance, though, & not augmented by public funds- with the possible exception of transporting people & their pets out of harm’s way, if they need it.
Living on the coast has it’s risks & people knew that when they built/ bought there. (I say this as someone who has come >< this close to buying a home at Crystal Beach & has a dear friend- who agrees, btw, & who lost literally everything in Ike. They rebuilt. We opted inland.)
Never gamble more than you can afford to lose.


12 posted on 11/19/2012 10:23:09 AM PST by KGeorge
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To: Theoria
It's the New York Times.

If they had their way, everyone in the country would be crammed into 800 square feet apartments in big cities.

13 posted on 11/19/2012 10:26:09 AM PST by Bratch
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To: GeronL

It makes sense to repair the small portions of NYC that are very infrequently devastated by natural disasters of this magnitude. Rebuilding New Orleans which is below sea level and prone to flooding every year...don’t think so.


14 posted on 11/19/2012 10:28:05 AM PST by ffusco (The President will return this country to what it once was...An arctic wasteland covered in ice.)
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To: Reynoldo
Does Amsterdam make sense?

Abandoning cities is the least inventive form of engineering.

15 posted on 11/19/2012 10:32:51 AM PST by wideawake
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To: ffusco

If NYC picks up the tab, we wouldn’t need to discuss it


16 posted on 11/19/2012 10:33:06 AM PST by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: GeronL

Agreed.
In addition:
NY receives $0.81 from DC for every $1.00 paid in taxes.

Texas fares even worse.

AL receives $1.66 from DC for every $1.00 paid in taxes.

source:http://visualeconomics.creditloan.com/united-states-federal-tax-dollars/


17 posted on 11/19/2012 10:41:54 AM PST by ffusco (The President will return this country to what it once was...An arctic wasteland covered in ice.)
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To: ffusco

Correction Texas does much, much better.


18 posted on 11/19/2012 10:43:34 AM PST by ffusco (The President will return this country to what it once was...An arctic wasteland covered in ice.)
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To: Mister Da
Confessions of a Welfare Queen

How rich bastards like me rip off taxpayers for millions of dollars

http://reason.com/archives/2004/03/01/confessions-of-a-welfare-queen

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.

19 posted on 11/19/2012 11:34:49 AM PST by TurboZamboni (Looting the future to bribe the present)
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To: ffusco

I have to wonder if/how they count military bases. There is a big difference between a state receiving a dollar in welfare payment and another state receiving a dollar for the electricity utilized by a military base.


20 posted on 11/19/2012 12:51:07 PM PST by douginthearmy
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To: douginthearmy

Interesting point, but not debatable w/o info. What is clear is that there are big winners in the transfer of payments from wealthy states to others.


21 posted on 11/19/2012 1:15:42 PM PST by ffusco (The President will return this country to what it once was...An arctic wasteland covered in ice.)
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To: Theoria

I can see rebuilding/maintaining barrier islands and clearing navigable waterways, etc.

I can see national flood insurance covering a working farm flooded by a break in a river levy.

But I cannot see my tax dollars being used to repeatedly rebuild someone’s beach home or rental property on a sand bar in Hurricane Alley.


22 posted on 11/19/2012 1:30:25 PM PST by PLMerite (Shut the Beyotch Down! Burn, baby, burn!)
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To: ffusco
I would like to have a good discussion and do some research into the difference between red and blue states. I will never be a socialist, but I would like to understand better how blue states continue to outperform red states. Also many red states have the worst welfare.

If I were to observe the country according to my own economic philosophy I would expect to see red states growing and blue states crashing and while there is some evidence of that there is also a lot of negative economic data from red states.

23 posted on 11/19/2012 1:41:55 PM PST by douginthearmy
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To: wideawake

I might remind you the people getting social security and medicare paid into it. There’s many millions of others getting “entitlements” they’re damn well not entitled to. Illegals, anyone ?

Before we shaft the elderly, let’s shaft the parasites FIRST !


24 posted on 11/19/2012 2:37:49 PM PST by jimt (Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed.)
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To: jimt
I might remind you the people getting social security and medicare paid into it.

Even in inflation-adjusted dollars, they are being paid more than they put into it - even if they are among the subset of Social Security recipients who actually did pay in.

And that, of course, is by design.

25 posted on 11/19/2012 2:43:37 PM PST by wideawake
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To: douginthearmy
I will never be a socialist, but I would like to understand better how blue states continue to outperform red states.

The answer lies in demographics.

Compare MA and MS. Compare RI and AL. Compare VT and LA.

Most southeastern "red states" are a few percentage points away from becoming Maryland.

26 posted on 11/19/2012 2:48:23 PM PST by wideawake
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To: douginthearmy

Blue states aren’t out performing the reds but their economies may just be larger. California is in debt, but it has an economy larger than France. Same with NY.


27 posted on 11/19/2012 2:51:34 PM PST by ffusco (The President will return this country to what it once was...An arctic wasteland covered in ice.)
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To: ffusco

My data appears to be out of date. Wrong figures, but my point still stands.


28 posted on 11/19/2012 2:55:37 PM PST by ffusco (The President will return this country to what it once was...An arctic wasteland covered in ice.)
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To: wideawake

Maybe. There’s a big difference between rebuilding an oil refinery and summer beach homes.


29 posted on 11/19/2012 4:02:16 PM PST by Amberdawn
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To: Amberdawn

This isn’t about refineries or beach homes - those are covered by private insurance. This is about roads, bridges, power lines and phone lines.


30 posted on 11/19/2012 4:33:00 PM PST by wideawake
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To: wideawake
Some basic facts:With some foundational facts:

(1) Coasts are not just areas for recreation, but they are essential for commerce.

Commerce, or free trade creates its own revenue--and areas of successful commerce has never had to rely on GOVERNMENT TAX MONEY to subsidize and build them up....New York, Chicago, Miami, etc. & even San Francisco (after its giant earthquake 100 years ago) were not built or rebuilt by government largess--rather BY their successful commerce.

(2) Coastal areas generate enormous tax revenues, in the form of property taxes, seaborne commerce and tourism.

GOOD! With all this locally generated revenue, there should be no need at all for the federal government to step in--and pay for things with taxes from people nowhere near those coastal areas. Infrastructure in such areas destroyed by natural disasters--if it needs to get rebuilt--should be rebuilt from LOCAL tax revenues and STATE (only if necessary) tax revenue...the bill, morally, should not be sent to Uncle Sam.

(3) Only a moron would argue that US coasts should be devoid of infrastructure and that such infrastructure should never be rebuilt - from a national security standpoint alone, this is foolish.

Who's arguing to make the coasts DEVOID of infrastructure? What about common sense though? If a bridge or levee or some other structure gets wiped out or damaged repeatedly, and it doesn't serve some compelling national interest (like a Navy base or an important road or something)---ONLY A MORON would argue that it SHOULD be rebuilt. Of course when Uncle Sam is there passing out money--lots of follies look like they need rebuilding, don't they?

(4) Areas of the US that are far from the coast experience tornados, wildfires, earthquakes, avalanches, blizzards, storms and flooding - yet one rarely hears complaints about internal regions receiving federal aid to rebuild their infrastructure.

Typically disasters in the same place inland don't occur that often...besides that, many of the victims of tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, avalanches, blizzards, storms and flooding DO NOT receive federal aid. It all depends.

I for one would like to rescind federal aid for most, if not all disasters, certainly of private property...as this is what the free market of insurance is for. If my house burns down tonight the Feds won't help me rebuild it--so why should I be forced to hand over money in federal taxes to help rebuild wealthy neighborhoods built in tinderbox-dry canyons of Southern California, just because it was a lot bigger fire that consumed hundreds of homes?

The same way on the coasts...if you're stupid enough to build a house on a sand bar, that wasn't even in the same place say 50 years ago, then if it gets washed away in a storm...well, that's just how the cookie crumbles. Morally, it is simply theft to expect other peoples money to pay for you to rebuild.

"Aid" like that--from money coerced by government from others (tax money)-- is anti-personal responsibility, anti-free-market, anti-conservative, and really fundamentally, anti-American.

31 posted on 11/19/2012 10:01:50 PM PST by AnalogReigns (because the real world is not digital...)
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To: AnalogReigns
That was quite a bit of blather. Historically, the development of coastal commerce in this nation has been facilitated by government-funded infrastructure spending, initially by the British crown and later by the US government.

The first great advocate of federal spending on commerce -cultivating internal improvements was President George Washington. He recognized their value. As should anyone who spends a few moments reflecting on human nature and logistics.

32 posted on 11/20/2012 3:55:27 AM PST by wideawake
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To: wideawake

The Dutch have been spending centuries on their land reclamation systems for most of their country. Half of their area is less than 3 feet above sea level. They have about 13,000 square miles to work with, both above and below.

Louisiana has over 51,000 square miles to work with and most of it is not below sea level.

There is no shortage of elevated land in the US.


33 posted on 11/20/2012 8:15:47 AM PST by Reynoldo
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To: Reynoldo
There is no shortage of elevated land in the US.

There is no shortage of elevated land in the EU - for example, France is only 25% as densely populated as the Netherlands.

Dutch citizens can move almost anywhere in Europe they want to, and never have to deal with land below sea level again.

Why don't they just abandon Zeeland before there is a repeat of the great flood of '53?

34 posted on 11/20/2012 8:24:20 AM PST by wideawake
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To: wideawake

Thanks for the sarcasm. I wasn’t making a judgement, just a statement.


35 posted on 11/21/2012 7:23:50 AM PST by PghBaldy (Pete Hoekstra RE: Petraeus scandal - "There's more here than meets the eye.")
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To: PghBaldy
I wasn’t making a judgement

Challenge.

36 posted on 11/21/2012 7:36:46 AM PST by wideawake
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