dimanche 28 août 2011

Forget the next world, in THIS world you're on your own*

On Friday Nate Silver wrote about the monetary cost of a storm like the one currently battering the east coast:

The procedure I have used to estimate economic damage — this is going to get a tiny bit technical — is to regress the logarithm of economic damage on three independent variables. The first two variables are the storm’s wind speed, and the distance of the storm from New York City, at its closest approach to Manhattan. The third variable is how many fatalities the storm caused in the Southern United States (these were significant in the cases of Hurricane Donna in 1960, Hurricane Agnes in 1972, and Hurricane Floyd in 1999), which is used as a proxy to segregate out damages caused in the South from those in the Northeast in the case of storms that made multiple distinct landfalls. The figures I am going to show you, therefore, reflect estimates of the economic damage to the Northeast from various types of hurricanes, including but not limited to the New York City metro region.

Click through to the article to see the full-size chart. But we are talking about $3.5 to $5.6 BILLION in economic damage from a storm just like this one. And that's just damage to the city, not to anywhere else. The numbers for damage in the range of this storm, by the time it's over, will be staggering. After wreaking havoc from North Carolina to Maine, it's almost unimaginable.

Of course thanks to Eric Cantor, whom President Obama lacks the courage to confront, we're all going to be on our own after this one, because King Eric refuses to give one dime of Federal aid unless it's offset by spending cuts elsewhere -- and presumably he's going to want those spending cuts to come out of Social Security and Medicare. So if you're, say, in your late fifties or early sixties, you might get federal aid to repair your house, but you're going to pay for it later on.

Even if you don't think you're going to need help because you have insurance, you might want to guess again, particularly if you do not have flood insurance (and most of us who don't live in a designated flood plain don't, though I am seriously reconsidering that).

And that of course brings us to Ron Paul, who thinks FEMA isn't necessary and we should go back to the good old days of the Galveston Flood:

Citing the Galveston hurricane in 1900 that obliterated much of the Texas coast, the libertarian-leaning congressman said Americans were able to rebuild their cities and put up a seawall without the federal government's help.

Yup, thems was the good ol' days, yessirree:

The citizens of Houston knew a powerful storm had blown through and had made ready to provide assistance. Workers set out by rail and ship for the island almost immediately. Rescuers arrived to find the city completely destroyed. It is believed 8,000 people—20% of the island's population—had lost their lives. Estimates range from 6,000 to 12,000. Most had drowned or been crushed as the waves pounded the debris that had been their homes hours earlier. Many survived the storm itself but died after several days trapped under the wreckage of the city, with rescuers unable to reach them. The rescuers could hear the screams of the survivors as they walked on the debris trying to rescue those they could. A further 30,000 were left homeless.

So many died that corpses were piled onto carts for burial at sea.The dead bodies were so numerous that burying them all was not possible. The dead were initially weighted down and dumped at sea, but when the gulf currents washed many of the bodies back onto the beach, a new solution was needed. Funeral pyres were set up wherever the dead were found and burned for weeks after the storm. The authorities passed out free whiskey to sustain the distraught men conscripted for the gruesome work of collecting and burning the dead. More people were killed in this single storm than the total of those killed in all the tropical cyclones that have struck the United States since. This count is greater than 300 cyclones, as of 2009. The Galveston Hurricane of 1900 remains the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

There's a part of me that says, "Yes, let's let the Ron Pauls and the Eric Cantors of the world run things. Let's have the country run by people whose staffers call the police when their constituents try to get a meeting with them, and who charge $15 per question and who assume that everyone who lost his/her job because the CEO ran the company into the ground or outsourced everything to low-wage countries is a drug addict. Let's have a country where the people in this Daily Show segment are in charge:

The one problem with this is that once the teabaggers get a taste of the country for which they clamored, they'll scream bloody murder to have their programs reinstated. But it will be too late.

(For those who didn't get the title reference...)

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