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Rick Perry Asks For Help From Washington For Texas Wildfires—Where Are The Tea Party Volunteer Disaster Relief Teams?

Texas Governor Rick Perry wants President Barack Obama to declare parts of Texas as disaster areas because of ongoing wildfires.

( Above—2011 Texas wildfires.)

From CNN

‘Texas Gov. Rick Perry is asking the federal government to declare the state a disaster area, a bid to spur assistance during a particularly potent wildfire season that has imperiled lives, structures and livelihoods in 252 counties, his office said in a statement Sunday. In his letter written late Saturday to President Barack Obama, sent through a Texas-based Federal Emergency Management Agency official, Perry said that above-average temperatures, lack of rain and low humidity have “caused extreme fire danger over most of the state.” “The wildland fire risk potential has reached a critically high level,” the governor wrote. These conditions “present a serious hazard to the lives and property of the citizens of the state.”

I see.

Texans need help from the federal government because of things beyond their control.

I thought the conservative Texas ethos was that a man or woman controls his or her own fate.

This call for help from Washington is being made by a Governor who has engaged in treasonous speculation about secession, and who is pushing savage budget cuts on the most vulnerable Texans.

We should recall that while those suffering from the impact of wildfires merit quick help, many in Texas nursing homes or many Texans who are sick due to no fault of their own also need help.

Of course, it is no surprise that Rick Perry wants help from Washington. According to a map prepared by Texas State Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs, Texas took almost $28 billion dollars in federal stimulus money.

I’d also like to know when the Tea Party volunteer fire companies and the Tea Party disaster relief teams will be rushing to assist people impacted by the fire? Where are county Republican parties in Texas organizing teams of citizen-volunteers to help out our fellow Texans so that they will not have to turn to government?

Are we going to allow socialized fire companies of public employees team up with Washington to do the job that everyday Texas citizens should be doing?

People who have been harmed by the fires should be helped. However, since many of our political leaders in Texas would rather people die than use the Rainy Day fund or raise the taxes needed to meet the legitimate needs of Texans, it is fair to comment when these same officials declare that some Texans are indeed worthy of help from government.

Let’s be clear about the facts—

1. Despite all the tough talk, Rick Perry calls on Washington and Barack Obama for help to solve problems facing Texas.

2. Despite all the criticisms of the federal government from Republican political leaders, Texas received many billions of dollars of Barack Obama approved stimulus funds.

3. While I’m certain many very good citizen volunteers are helping out with the wildfires, the Tea Party movement and other Texas conservatives who sing the praises of citizen action are no place to be found in any organized fashion when help is needed most.

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April 18, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , ,

62 Comments »

  1. [...] Please read the entire post:  Rick Perry Asks For Help From Washington For Texas Wildfires—Where Are The Tea Party Volunteer Dis… [...]

    Pingback by Where Are The Tea Party Volunteer Firefighters? « The Runaway Lawyer | April 18, 2011

  2. The silence is deafening from the Right

    Comment by lbwoodgate | April 18, 2011

  3. OH– I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT, Why does Pery want help from the Government. I thought he didn’t want Gov’t. If he’d alreaqdy sucessed from the UNION, he wouldn.t be asking. Why don’t all the Texas Tea Party g down there with brooms, and put out the fire. Just another hyprocrite in texas.

    Comment by PHYLLIS RADFORD | April 18, 2011

  4. If you haven’t read it, Booman has a great take-down of your governor’s hypocrisy.
    http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2011/4/18/162222/469

    Spread the word and duplicate the article. Maybe some enterprising reporter (are there any left alive in Texas?) will have the temerity to comment about it.

    Comment by John B. | April 18, 2011

  5. WOW… do any of you live near these fires??? Are any of you helping out??? I DOUBT IT! Plenty of citizens are down here helping out bringing water and food and any supplies we can to these mostly volunteer firefighters, people are trying to gather clothes and neccesities for the people who have lost their homes and their land, most people around here depend on their land as a means of income…. so YES these people need help not only from the government but from our fellow Texans.

    Comment by b | April 19, 2011

  6. I like how everyone is considering Texas as one individual! Oh and by all means let’s help a foreign country, but let’s not help one of our own states because Of the remarks of a governor. It’s not perry Obama would be helping out. It’s the families and people that have lost their homes and have nothing left, it’s the families that don’t know if they will have a place to live tomorrow. So before you go off into your politics, use your heart (if you have one) and think about the actuL people that are actuAlly being affected!

    Comment by Pissedoftexan | April 19, 2011

  7. b & PissedoffTexan—I’m clear here that people impacted by the fires should get help.

    It would be great if politics played no part in any of this. But we are governed here in Texas by people who seem intent on attacking everything government does.

    Please don’t ask folks to look the other way when a Governor who is using the state budget process to attack the most vulnerable Texans, calls upon the same forces he routinely demonizes to help address problems in Texas.

    Why do some people merit concern while others do not? Where have been your voices as the state legislature cuts away at education and needed health services?

    Thanks for your comments.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | April 19, 2011

  8. baggers are all talk and no action, of course if they had a shot at shooting some mexicans at the border they would be first in line

    Comment by brady | April 19, 2011

  9. I was there today dropping off supplies, and I will tell you that the Tea Party members you speak of are out here in force. They are in the Volunteer Fire Departments from towns near and far helping to try to contain the fires and the “Tea Party disaster relief teams” are bringing food and supplies to help the volunteer fire fighters who are away from their homes and the evacuees who possibly will not have a home to go back to. We are all out here working and helping in an organized fashion; we are not the ones who wrote the letter to Obama.

    Comment by Karen | April 19, 2011

  10. Karen–That is great if Tea Party groups are helping. Though I’m not sure that simply being in a volunteer company makes somebody a Tea Party follower.

    Governor Perry wrote the letter to President Obama. If a Tea Party follower or Governor Perry himself offered me some food after I’d been burned out of my home, I would offer thanks. Hopefully, you’d be willing to take help from our government of the people, or from the President himself if he offered.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | April 19, 2011

  11. Some of these comments are completely unbelievable. I didn’t know some liberals could be so arrogant and heartless. I lost my home to the wildfires and I can not go home to volunteer because I am enrolled at college at Austin (otherwise, I would be there in a heartbeat). I can’t believe some of y’all would put your political views before the well-being of your fellow Texans. I am extremely disappointed in the comments I have read on this site and, as a moderate, my viewpoint towards liberals are starting to change drastically (and not in a good way).

    Comment by wow | April 19, 2011

  12. I voted for Obama, live in Fort Worth, and have many friends that have already lost homes, their land destroyed, and all their animals killed.

    Now is NOT the time to make this tragedy into a political issue!!!! It is horrible, frightening, and will destroy our land for decades.

    It’s articles like this that paint a VERY BAD picture of Liberals! You should be caring about the individuals that are loosing everything they have in life!!!!!!

    Comment by Regal | April 19, 2011

  13. wow–I’m sorry if you’ve lost your home. I hope you get the help you needs. If your response to your own tragedy is to join with Texas conservatives who have used the recession and a budget deficit of their own making to attack the poor in Texas, that is your call. I’d pay additional taxes to help people impacted by the wildfires. This is a very different course to meet the needs of Texans than we have seen from Rick Perry.

    Regal–Let people get all the help they need. And at the same time, let them know where that help came from. Hard-working people lose everything they have in life all the time due to illness and bad fortune. Save your outrage for our Texas leaders who use tough circumstances to cut people from the social safety net.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | April 19, 2011

  14. I think the resentment here by your message Neil is, as usual, misplaced. Karen talks about Tea Party volunteers out there working on the fires but I suspect that they are joined by conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats.

    It’s not a situation where people are pitted against each other but a situation, as you have pointed out where government serves to help the general welfare of its citizens in times of crisis when the state isn’t fully capable to rise to the occasion.

    Everybody, regardless of their party affiliation will pitch in and do what they can in crisis situations like this – AS THEY SHOULD. But we should likewise be able to pitch in with the health care crisis and unemployment benefits when there is a jobless crisis equally, relying on what federal assistance is available out there, through our tax dollars, instead of presuming that government is more a problem than it really is.

    Comment by lbwoodgate | April 19, 2011

  15. Nothing in this posts suggests that help from any source should be refused. However, Perry’s entire re-election campaign was based on his disdain for the big bad federal government and big bad Obama sticking his nose in where it didn’t belong. When Perry resorts to federal assistance to deal with a crisis, there is nothing wrong with pointing out the hypocrisy of the situation all the while hoping for the very best for everyone affected by this disaster.

    Comment by runawaylawyer | April 22, 2011

  16. surely most of you are not from texas. we do take care of our own and for those of you who dont think so you should have seen the way we pulled together as a state after hurrican ike. we let strangers into our homes we feed them like they were family. we got through that and we will get through this with or without obams help. do you liberals have an once of humanity? you people make me sick!

    Comment by angry texan | April 22, 2011

  17. I do have an “once” of humanity and in fact, I am using it to wonder why on earth the Texas legislature wants to substantially de-fund fire protection in Texas. Where do you stand on volunteer firefighters having to pay for their own equipment and risk their lives for free?

    Comment by runawaylawyer | April 22, 2011

  18. Angry Texan,

    There are so called liberals helping too. So get off your high horse. The point of this post is Perry and the Tea Party hypocrisy–”we don’t need the federal govt. unless we need money.” and the concern for the federal deficit goes out the window. So called liberal support providing assistance in Texans time of need–they do not oppose assistance. Get it?

    Comment by Karen | April 25, 2011

  19. [...] at Texas Liberal noted that Rick Perry has asked Barack Obama and Washington on help with Texas wildfires. While everybody impacted by the fires merits help, it sure is something that Washington-basher [...]

    Pingback by Texas Blog News Roundup Apr 25, 2011 « TexasVox: The Voice of Public Citizen in Texas | April 25, 2011

  20. I’d pay additional taxes to help people impacted by the wildfires.

    And you may. I expect you won’t.

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | April 28, 2011

  21. Why don’t we simply assess the taxes needed?

    Comment by Neil Aquino | April 28, 2011

  22. We certainly can, and they’ll be collected months from now. If you find a tax increase more urgent than the legislative process allows, you may vote yourself one by sending a check to the following address:

    Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
    P.O. Box 13528, Capitol Station
    Austin, Texas 78711-3528

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | April 28, 2011

  23. I’d hate to send a check to Republican Texas Comptroller Susan Combs because based on news accounts she seems unable to keep people’s data secure. My account information might be posted online the next day. Why don’t you post the website of a charity you like that is helping people impacted by the fires and we’ll both pledge them $25.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | April 29, 2011

  24. That’s very gracious of you, but I’ll cover your pledge. If anyone else is interested, please contribute to:

    Catholic Charities of Odessa
    606 W 10th St
    Odessa TX 79761

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | April 29, 2011

  25. The wonderful thing is that our Conservative spirit here in TX has led many to pull themselves up, church volunteers, tea party volunteers, etc., and work for one another. That is the beauty of the do-it-yourself attitude we have here. When the federal government, who we pay taxes to by the way, fails us, at least we don’t sit in the middle of the streets whining because we’re so government dependent like those in New Orleans.

    Comment by T.p. | April 29, 2011

  26. Obama wants to be in the locations where he’ll get the most news coverage, and that is NOT in TX. The main goal for him, ultimately, is his next election. All needs will need to fit under that umbrella or he won’t bother.

    Comment by T.p. | April 29, 2011

  27. To Matt Bramanti:

    at least we don’t sit in the middle of the streets whining because we’re so government dependent like those in New Orleans.”

    Wow! That’s kind of callous making an apples to oranges comparison. So if you think we don’t whine “in the streets” then it’s okay to go in front of the national media and whine?

    Gov. Rick Perry criticized FEMA for its slow response to his request for federal disaster recovery assistance in connection with the state’s wildfires during an emergency management conference in San Antonio Friday.

    ”We can’t always count on Washington to come running. It’s been two weeks now since I wrote President Obama requesting assistance to deal with these wildfires,” Gov. Perry said. “We’re still waiting on a response.”

    Comment by lbwoodgate | April 30, 2011

  28. Mr. Woodgate, I didn’t leave that comment. “T.p.” did.

    You see, each comment is denoted at the bottom by the name of the person who left it.

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | April 30, 2011

  29. woodgate–The abstract concept of comparing apples and oranges is the kind of thing that tosses Matt for a loop.

    You see in his reply to your comment the enjoyment he takes in the mistakes of others. You flushed him out even if by accident.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | April 30, 2011

  30. Enjoyment? What on earth are you talking about? The fellow made an honest mistake, attributing to me something I didn’t say, so I pointed that out. Sheesh.

    You ought to file down that edge, Neil. It’s offputting.

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | April 30, 2011

  31. Matt

    My apologies for the errant reply to what I thought was your comment. However, might it still not apply since you seem to be on the same page here with T.p.? Or have I misread your intent?

    Comment by lbwoodgate | April 30, 2011

  32. L.B., no, I don’t agree with T.p.

    I don’t see a fundamental difference between whining in the streets and whining on television.

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | April 30, 2011

  33. woodgate—You’re right on.

    Matt–”file down that edge.” That’s a metaphor. Good work. I feel I’m making progress with you in this small regard.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | April 30, 2011

  34. Neil, did you ever answer me on that question?

    You were using roads and driving as a metaphor for political activity, and you said I should be “kept off our roads completely.”

    What did you mean by that? It sure reads as though you think I should not be allowed to engage in political activity.

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | April 30, 2011

  35. Are we not represented in Washington by two senators and a number of congressmen most of whom are Republicans ? What are they doing for us ?

    Comment by Paul Renaud | May 8, 2011

  36. it doesn`t matter who did what when or where but what can be done to help our farmers and ranchers ,

    Comment by vera parrilla | May 12, 2011

  37. [...] a blog post from Texas Liberal giving particulars regarding Perry’s dangerous small government hypocrisy. There is quite a [...]

    Pingback by The ACLU of Texas and the Specter of Perry for President « Human in progress. | June 9, 2011

  38. [...] government (of the nation he wants to secede from) asking Congress cut him a check…and then throwing a bitch fit when it said [...]

    Pingback by ginandtacos.com » Blog Archive » LAST RESORT | August 30, 2011

  39. What does Perry’s opinion have to do with the welfare of Texas? Nothing. I am from Bastrop and had to evacuate. We need help like anyone else would.

    Comment by JC | September 5, 2011

  40. Conservatives expect liberals constantly to turn the other cheek. You’re surprised and hateful when we refuse to overlook your ignorant hypocrisy? Well, I don’t want a dime of my tax money to go to helping your unfortunate farmers and ranchers. Let Texans pitch in to help each other, and stop begging for a hand out from the rest of us. In fact, show some grit and refuse to take it.

    Comment by Julian Baum | September 6, 2011

  41. Considering I’m right smack dab in the middle of the fires in Northeast Texas at this point its not about the political scandal between the governor and president, it’s about why isnt Washington rushing to help us down here like the hurricane and earthquake victems? Because the president is holding our govenor against us and it’s childish if you ask me. Plus Texas is a Republican state, another strike against us.

    Comment by Jenn | September 6, 2011

  42. Oh and another thing, the great state of Texas was one of the main ones helping during Hurricane Katrina, housing victems and sending people down to assist. So before you start talking crap about us helping ourselves, we’ve more than lended helping hands in the past with other states and lets not forget all the illegals we have to house and pay for that swim the damn border and come over for freebees that our President wants to keep here and make citizens so he can get more votes to further run this country into debt and into the ground.

    Comment by Jenn | September 6, 2011

  43. I think Americans should help each other, without regard to the color of the state. But you conservatives don’t agree with me, unless you’ve got your hand out, talking tough all the while. The fire victims deserve help, and I don’t wish them ill, regardless of their politics.

    But you conservatives might rethink your Ron Paul / Rick Perry libertarianism. If a 50-year old office worker can’t find a job, probably for the rest of his life, you say “not my problem.” Or worse – you blame him and say nasty things. If a 75 year old widow can’t afford her medications, that’s her lack of foresight. She should have saved more, maybe put a little something in oil stocks or hedge funds. But if a Texas (or Mississippi, or Louisiana, or Kentucky, or Alabama . . . ) landowner suffers an uninsured fire catastrophe, or uninsured flooding, you’re all for federal handouts. All hat and no cattle. Ask Bobby Jindal for help. Don’t ask the people you despise for a hand-out. Y’all would treat Ben Bernanke “ugly” down in Texas? Then don’t ask him to print money to help you. Fortunately, for you, the federal government WILL help. And you’ll take the money. You’re welcome.

    Comment by Julian Baum | September 6, 2011

  44. “Well, I don’t want a dime of my tax money to go to helping your unfortunate farmers and ranchers.”

    Nor do I.

    “The fire victims deserve help, and I don’t wish them ill, regardless of their politics.”

    That doesn’t appear to square with your previous statement. It looks like you’re categorically against federal relief of all of these losses because of the political beliefs of, at most, a subset of the people who might be helped. That is, you don’t want to help any of the people harmed because some of them may be hypocrites.

    “But if a Texas (or Mississippi, or Louisiana, or Kentucky, or Alabama . . . ) landowner suffers an uninsured fire catastrophe, or uninsured flooding, you’re all for federal handouts.”

    Who’s “you all?” I’m a conservative, and I’m opposed to the government reimbursing people for uninsured but insurable losses. To do so, especially repeatedly, is a transfer to people who behave badly at the expense of people who behave prudently. And I’m certainly against debasing the currency (or borrowing) to do it.

    If you’re attacking Perry as a hypocrite, that’s fine. He hasn’t lived up to conservative principles in some areas, and conservatives (including me) have criticized him for that. But it looks like you’re attacking the principles. You seem to think that conservatism is bunk, and cite as evidence the failure to follow it.

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | September 6, 2011

  45. “I’m a conservative, and I’m opposed to the government reimbursing people for uninsured but insurable losses. To do so, especially repeatedly, is a transfer to people who behave badly at the expense of people who behave prudently.”

    This sounds like a generic view most conservatives hold. Can you provide some clear cut examples of this? If so, are these the exception or the rule?

    Also, just because something is “insurable” doesn’t mean all people can afford to pay the premiums. Insurance companies are good at creating policies on things that they can’t legally refuse to cover but nothing prohibits them from charging excessive premiums for plans that have very high deductibles.

    Comment by lbwoodgate | September 7, 2011

  46. “Can you provide some clear cut examples of this? If so, are these the exception or the rule?”

    They’re the rule, if you accept that people respond to incentives. A good example is the pricing of houses in federally-designated floodplains. Homeowners in these areas can purchase subsidized flood insurance from the government. The premiums they pay are artificially low — that is, they don’t cover the real actuarial cost of insuring the property.

    Accordingly, a moral-hazard problem emerges — more houses are built in flood plains than prudence would dictate. When the flood plain floods, as it is wont to do, the feds pay the claims. In effect, wealth is transferred from people who built smart and given to people who took a risk, and who took that risk only because it was subsidized. See the last 10 years of development in St. Charles County, Missouri (think St. Louis’ version of Katy).

    To make it worse, the rules explicitly ban the government from refusing to insure multiple-loss properties. So you can buy subsidized insurance, lose your house to a flood, make a claim, rebuild in the flood plain as many times as you like. This problem is less severe with privately-provided insurance because insurers can refuse to renew policies on homes with too many losses, and because premiums rise to the level of risk. Neither is true about FEMA insurance.

    Other good examples include Medicare/Medicaid coverage of motorized wheelchairs and the under-utilization of crop insurance (even when subsidized), as well as the implicit (now explicit) federal guarantee of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage-backed securities.

    Can you be more specific about what sort of insurance you’re talking about, maybe give an example?

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | September 7, 2011

  47. Since hypocrisy is what is on the table for debate, can we examine why Obama sent aid to Mexico to fight their wildfires in May yet is still “assessing” Texas’ need for assistance? If he took an oath to be our president, it’s hypocritical of him to hold grudges against states who didn’t vote for him or governors who oppose him. Ironically the Austin area is predominately liberal. It will be interesting to see how many liberals move more to the right after we are ignored by our great leader.

    Comment by Rastep | September 8, 2011

  48. i am simply blown away by the political twist heaped upon a natural disaster – homes are being destroyed, memories are going up in flames, lives are in danger, land is ravaged, agriculture and livestock are at risk. geeze.

    Comment by charlie | September 8, 2011

  49. “They’re the rule, if you accept that people respond to incentives. A good example is the pricing of houses in federally-designated floodplains. Homeowners in these areas can purchase subsidized flood insurance from the government. The premiums they pay are artificially low — that is, they don’t cover the real actuarial cost of insuring the property.”

    If I don’t accept that people don’t respond to incentives then it doesn’t become the rule?? It’s not necessarily the rule if you’re adding a qualifier. People have other factors in mind when they locate a spot to buy or build a home, not just a federal flood plan incentive. And for those who are incentivized, what percentage are we talking about in terms of the total debt of the money spent on this program is it and how does it offset other displacement costs when people move to more valuable property to build. Too many variables here Matt to make such a blanket statement based on political views.

    Also, most people who bought these homes did so from a builder who most likely knew he was building them in a flood plain. Buyers are at fault here only for trusting those who sold them the home rather than researching things a bit deeper like are there homes more susceptible to floods. Most East and Gulf coast shore areas are susceptible to floods as are major waterways. Yet this is an where we have traditionally built. The hundred year flood is now becoming the 5 year flood due to climate change but at the time, was their really a poor judgment made by buyers in these popular water front properties?

    Comment by lbwoodgate | September 8, 2011

  50. If I don’t accept that people don’t respond to incentives then it doesn’t become the rule??

    No, it’s the rule regardless. What i was saying is that if you don’t accept that people respond to incentives, we’ll just be talking in circles and I can go play golf instead of chatting with you more.

    Also, most people who bought these homes did so from a builder who most likely knew he was building them in a flood plain.

    I completely agree. We’re subsidizing builders, who knew they were building on cheap floodplain land, as well as homeowners, who knew they were buying on cheap floodplain land.

    Buyers are at fault here only for trusting those who sold them the home rather than researching things a bit deeper like are there homes more susceptible to floods.

    Remember, we’re talking about people with federal flood insurance. You seem to suggest that people buy in the floodplain without knowing it and buy federal flood insurance without knowing that their homes are floodprone. That simply doesn’t happen. You can’t get federal flood insurance without knowing these things.

    The hundred year flood is now becoming the 5 year flood due to climate change

    I’m not sure whether you’re being hyperbolic, and I don’t want to insult your intelligence by suggesting you actually believe that. Could you clarify that?

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | September 8, 2011

  51. I think the hypocrisy talk should be dropped altogether. Perry simply wants to keep the government in its place – which is to enforce laws and provide defense for the nation. If a natural disaster isn’t a call for such defense, then I don’t know what is. Just because Perry is trying to keep big brother at bay from interfering with our state’s business affairs, doesn’t mean the federal government should turn a blind eye to this disaster. Texas should not be seen as hypocritical for asking for assistance after we have already paid our taxes to the government to provide that assistance to us. The bluest part of Texas is burning boys….I would think at least a few Liberals would want to know why the government is refusing more support.

    The discussion on paying more taxes to support these wildfires would be an exercise in futility. After paying one dollar in taxes we would be lucky to see a nickel of it return to something beneficial for us, even though 20% is suppose to pay for our security and defense. Why not give that extra money directly to the source instead of allowing the government to take its share in processing fees and distributing it accordingly? I am cutting a check to 3 local volunteer fire departments and helping to organize fund raisers for more of them after the fires have subsided.

    Comment by Mike | September 8, 2011

  52. “No, it’s the rule regardless.”

    You missed my point. People don’t run out and buy property in a flood zone mainly because they can buy subsidized flood insurance for it. There are other factors that determine where they buy. BTW, do you have any data that I was asking about how big a chunk this subsidized flood insurance impacts the national debt? If all we’re talking about is relatively insignificant amount compared to revenue lost from corporate subsidies or jobs and lost when people can’t afford to rebuild their homes, then stop the conversation and go play golf.

    “We’re subsidizing builders, who knew they were building on cheap floodplain land, as well as homeowners, who knew they were buying on cheap floodplain land.”

    There’s a lot of gullible people out there Matt that are not on top of such issues as you and I. That was evident with those who were sold a bill of goods by some home builders and their cronies in the mortgage industry that convinced a lot of eager people that they didn’t a good paying job or collateral to buy a new home. I’m not excusing these people but I am simply saying that they are easy prey for predatory sales people who tend to skip over important details like “You’re home is built in a flood plane. You will need to incur additional costs (subsidized or not) and buy flood insurance.”

    “I’m not sure whether you’re being hyperbolic, and I don’t want to insult your intelligence by suggesting you actually believe that. Could you clarify that?”

    I am being somewhat hyperbolic but if you can’t see the writing on the wall with these significant climate changes and their deadly impacts then you are simply in a state of denial.

    Comment by lbwoodgate | September 8, 2011

  53. This is the same Governor who agreed with the cuts in disaster funding. Then demanded money for disaster when fires hit the State and when the Government said they give what they could to Texas. Perry again threatened to secede from the USA and attack the President. Perry now is looking for money when other States have suffered with Tornadoes, earthquake and hurricanes but still the GOP refuse to allow funding. But the same Law Makers rushed to give Iraq 50 billion of taxpayers money for clean up and then issued a large check for aid to Israel.

    Comment by Jackie | September 9, 2011

  54. You missed my point. People don’t run out and buy property in a flood zone mainly because they can buy subsidized flood insurance for it.

    That’s certainly true in a direct sense. Nobody buys a house in a floodplain directly because they can get cheap flood insurance. They buy it because it’s cheaper than higher ground. And it’s cheaper than higher ground because of subsidized flood insurance.

    Without the subsidy, that eagerness for inexpensive property would be tempered by the knowledge that the buyer would have to bear the full cost of insuring it, or otherwise bear the full cost of his losses.

    With flood insurance, he bears the full cost of neither. Thus, a key force for prudence is absent, and people act less prudently.

    BTW, do you have any data that I was asking about how big a chunk this subsidized flood insurance impacts the national debt?

    Sorry, I missed that question in your earlier comment. $18 billion at the moment and rising.

    If all we’re talking about is relatively insignificant amount compared to revenue lost from corporate subsidies

    What on earth makes you think I’m in favor of corporate subsidies? That’s what flood insurance is! It makes risky homes and risky insurance less expensive than they should be, allowing builders and insurers to profit at taxpayers’ expense.

    or jobs and lost when people can’t afford to rebuild their homes

    I’m gonna have to refer you to Mr. Bastiat on that one.

    There’s a lot of gullible people out there Matt that are not on top of such issues as you and I.

    Oh, I’m not talking about mastery of the issues. I’m saying it is impossible for someone to acquire flood insurance without knowing whether they’re in the flood zone.

    Here’s the federal flood insurance application. Before it may be submitted, it must contain information about the flood zone and the elevation of the house.

    It even calculates the difference between the flood elevation and the floor of your house, so the applicant knows just how many feet of water is expected to be in his living room.

    their cronies in the mortgage industry that convinced a lot of eager people that they didn’t a good paying job or collateral to buy a new home.

    There is no such thing as an uncollateralized mortgage.

    I’m not excusing these people but I am simply saying that they are easy prey for predatory sales people who tend to skip over important details like “You’re home is built in a flood plane. You will need to incur additional costs (subsidized or not) and buy flood insurance.”

    Nobody can get a mortgage on a house in a floodplain without buying flood insurance at the same time as they buy the house. Mortgage companies require that insurance so that they’re not stuck with uninsured collateral. Federal law also prohibits lenders from making loans on properties in floodplains unless they’re insured.

    Here’s the HUD Settlement Statement form. You’ll recognize it if you’ve ever bought a house. The monthly cost of flood insurance is required by law to be disclosed on that form. And this isn’t some fine-print disclosure on page 83 that nobody reads — it’s basically the final bill for the house, listing how much it costs, how much the loan is, how much the Realtors get, how much you have to put down, and on and on.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think your argument is that people’s decisions aren’t affected by the subsidy, because a lot of people buy houses without knowing they’re in the flood plain. That simply doesn’t happen. I suppose anything is possible, but I can’t even think of a scenario where it would happen; can you?

    I am being somewhat hyperbolic but if you can’t see the writing on the wall with these significant climate changes and their deadly impacts then you are simply in a state of denial.

    There certainly have been dramatic changes in those deadly impacts; weather kills a lot fewer people than ever before. The World Health Organization keeps track of these things. Here’s the trend in weather-related deaths for the past several decades:

    1920s: 485,000 deaths/year (242 per million people)
    1930s: 446,000 deaths/year (209 per million people)
    1940s: 370,000 deaths/year (157 per million people)
    1950s: 211,000 deaths/year (71 per million people)
    1960s: 168,000 deaths/year (48 per million people)
    1970s: 54,000 deaths/year (14 per million people)
    1980s: 66,000 deaths/year (14 per million people)
    1990s: 33,000 deaths/year (6 per million people)
    2000s: 22,000 deaths/year (3 per million people)

    Thus, the number of weather-related deaths has fallen by 95 percent, while the weather-related death rate has fallen by 99 percent. Those are worldwide figures. In the U.S., the death rate is half of the world in general, about 1.5 per million.

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | September 10, 2011

  55. Self proclaimed Prophet Governor Perry cheered the GOP cutting disaster funding to punish the people and the President. When he saw wild fires he demanded funding which he got as much as allowed. He demanded more and threaten to secede. Perry used Federal money for political grains and to balance the Texas budget, when the money was for the people in need. Perry cut firefighters 75 per cent without a thought. Now he’s demanding help from the Government. States have had tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricane with the GOP saying citizens get no help. One town in Joplin was wiped out, but the GOP didn’t see that as a problem nor did they want to help. The same GOP/’Dems rushed 50 billion dollars of taxpayers money to Iraq for clean up and gave a big check to Israel for aid to build homes. Perry will use this disaster for political gain and could care less about those suffering. Perry told the people of Texas to pray to God for rain as the answer to their problems. Now that he’s running for President he’s attacking the current President as if Congress isn’t in office. Congress which is controlled by the GOP are the Branch that sends bills for the President to sign. If Perry knew how the US Government worked and if he had read the US Constitution he would know what to do. Perry like to brag about how many people he has executed and how he has his State with rich and poor but this is the United States of America and we have laws that Perry might want to learn or just secede as he often threatens to do.

    Comment by Jackie | September 10, 2011

  56. It’s easy for all of you guys to sit here behind your computer screens talking about a governor’s decisions, while in the meantime countless people are staying the waller highschool gym, not knowing if their home has been destroyed or not, chances are you’ve never been part of a natural disaster and are just another run of the mill troll, sitting on the internet, mocking other’s misfortune by making it about politics. You’d be singing a different tune if it was your house in the path, not knowing if everything you’ve collected over the years, along with pets, and even some live’s could be snatched from you in an instant. Those of you who actually care I thank you from the bottom of my heart. To the rest of you, you’re pathetic, ungrateful scum.

    -Sean (Evacuee in Waller, TX)

    Comment by Sean | September 10, 2011

  57. I believe GOD is watching to see how many of his people can put aside their political views and be loving and caring humans to help one another in a time of tragedy such as this!

    Just a reminder… One day we will ALL have to answer to him for our actions or lack there of !

    Comment by Chela | September 10, 2011

  58. “Without the subsidy, that eagerness for inexpensive property would be tempered by the knowledge that the buyer would have to bear the full cost of insuring it, or otherwise bear the full cost of his losses.

    With flood insurance, he bears the full cost of neither. Thus, a key force for prudence is absent, and people act less prudently.”

    A good argument and one that would indeed motivate some not to buy the cheaper property if they had to cover the full brunt of flood insurance. But this argument dismisses those cases where homeownership is available to some only with the risks you mention here. If the federal subsidy wasn’t there at all do you honestly think no one would take the risk and build there? Many working low-income families have and would continue to take advantage of this opportunity and take this risk despite the threat of floods so this argument doesn’t support the notion that no one would build there.

    “$18 billion at the moment and rising”

    Pardon me if I seem skeptical but would you mind providing a link that confirms this figure. Does this represent an historic time period, a current annual amount, or a projection of current plus future costs?

    “I’m gonna have to refer you to Mr. Bastiat on that one.”

    The Libertarians do love to use this argument but to me, it’s an and apples to oranges comparison Matt. We’re not talking about man-made problems that can be manipulated to make money. It is nature that does or does not cause flood damage and nature is not always predictable. It can’t be exploited to make things happen so someone can make a buck off of it like the child whose paid by the glazier to break more windows.

    “Here’s the federal flood insurance application. Before it may be submitted, it must contain information about the flood zone and the elevation of the house.”

    I revert back to my earlier argument that this information may alter the decision of some but it will not deter those who are unable to purchase property and a home in higher income district. Surely no one would build knowing that they would be flooded out 2-3 times a year or even every other year. Historically some of these places don’t suffer flood damages for decades though as I submitted to you before, climate change from anthropogenic global warming may well change that.

    “There is no such thing as an uncollateralized mortgage”

    What?? Are you saying there are no people that bought houses in the last decade that did not have collateral or even a job? Are you not familiar with the predatory practices of many mortgage companies that conned home buyers into signing contracts even though they knew these people didn’t have the standard 10% to put down? Surely you can’t be suggesting this in light of the toxic assets many mortgage companies got stuck with prior to the recent housing bubble burst as they were bundled and sold multiple times. They were toxic because those who devised credit default swaps knew that when the bubble burst these people would not be able to pay their mortgages. Where have you been over the last few years?

    “The World Health Organization keeps track of these things. Here’s the trend in weather-related deaths for the past several decades:”

    Matt, you’re a bright fellow and I mean that sincerely. But using this WHO data is dishonest. According to the WHO “mortality due to extreme weather events has declined despite an increase in all-cause mortality, suggesting that humanity is adapting better to extreme events than to other causes of mortality. In summary, there is no signal in the mortality data to indicate increases in the overall frequencies or severities of extreme weather events, despite large increases in the population at risk.”

    What this is saying is that as we become aware of our environment humans are adapting themselves where they can to these conditions which lowers the risk of mortality. Such things as flood control levees and dams, advanced technology that builds stronger buildings and expanded irrigation systems will offset most of what caused higher death rates a century ago. The government funded TVA system not only brought electricity to the Tennessee Valley in the 1930′s but it also relocated people and protected others from the flood waters they had incurred over the many years they resided there.

    The WHO data you used is not a measure meant to evaluate anthropogenic global warming on the increased extreme weather we are witnessing around the world today.

    Comment by lbwoodgate | September 10, 2011

  59. If the federal subsidy wasn’t there at all do you honestly think no one would take the risk and build there?

    No, some people would build there and buy their own insurance, and I’m fine with that. The problem of flood losses wouldn’t be an externality anymore.

    Pardon me if I seem skeptical but would you mind providing a link that confirms this figure. Does this represent an historic time period, a current annual amount, or a projection of current plus future costs?

    Heh. Trust but verify :) That’s the current amount that the National Flood Insurance Program is “overdrawn,” if you will. When premiums exceed claims, NFIP socks away the money for a rainy day. When it pays claims, it draws against those reserves. Those reserves are now completely depleted, and have been for several years. Now NFIP draws from the Treasury.

    The Libertarians do love to use this argument but to me, it’s an and apples to oranges comparison Matt. We’re not talking about man-made problems that can be manipulated to make money.

    No, we’re talking about natural problems, the results of which can be manipulated to make money. Allow me to give you an illustration to show how the natural phenomena isn’t really the problem. There’s an island called Cayo Batata off the coast of Puerto Rico. It’s completely uninhabited. There’s nothing there, no buildings, no people. When it gets slammed by a hurricane, as it does from time to time, there are no losses.

    Now what if I bought up Cayo Batata and built a bunch of houses, and they were destroyed in the next hurricane? Would that loss really have been a natural phenomenon, not a man-made problem? Sure, the proximate cause of the loss would be the storm surge, but the real cause would be that I put the houses there instead of somewhere safer.

    It is nature that does or does not cause flood damage and nature is not always predictable.

    Of course, we don’t know precisely when it’s going to flood or how much. We don’t know when the next hurricane will hit Florida, or how big the storm surge will be. The natural phenomena are just a given. But we do know where it’s more likely to flood, because of the natural phenomenon that water flows downhill.

    So what matters is the economic decisions we make in response to those phenomena. The question is whether we should build in the path of that water, and who should be responsible for rebuilding after a flood.

    And the losses are getting more predictable in flood zones over long periods, because an ever-growing proportion of NFIP claims are from repeat customers — people who built in a floodplain, got flooded, rebuilt in the same spot and got re-flooded. If you were really irresponsible with car insurance — say, if you kept getting into accidents because you drove too fast — your insurer would raise your rates or drop you altogether. But if you’re really irresponsible with flood insurance — if you keep rebuilding your house in the same flood-prone spot, over and over again — that doesn’t happen.

    Hell, FEMA even uses that in their marketing materials when selling flood insurance.

    What?? Are you saying there are no people that bought houses in the last decade that did not have collateral or even a job?

    Sure, some people got mortgages without having jobs. But nobody ever got a mortgage without collateral. A mortgage, by definition, is the pledge of property as security for repaying a debt.

    I revert back to my earlier argument that this information may alter the decision of some but it will not deter those who are unable to purchase property and a home in higher income district.

    I agree. But that’s not what you were saying before. You were saying people didn’t know they were in the floodplain, that they were unknowingly sold floodplain homes by slick predatory salesmen. Well, that didn’t happen. In the absence of subsidized insurance, what will deter them is the real cost of insurance.

    You might say, “well, they’ll buy without flood insurance at all.” But as we discussed yesterday, that doesn’t happen either, because you can’t get a loan on a floodplain house without flood insurance.

    Matt, you’re a bright fellow and I mean that sincerely.

    Now you’re really starting to make sense.

    The WHO data you used is not a measure meant to evaluate anthropogenic global warming on the increased extreme weather we are witnessing around the world today.

    No, it’s a measure meant to evaluate the “deadly impacts” you were worried about.

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | September 10, 2011

  60. Jackie, control of Congress is split. The Democrats control one chamber, the Republicans control the other.

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | September 10, 2011

  61. “Heh. Trust but verify “

    Thanks for the CNN article on this. It exposes a few things that weren’t clear when we started this conversation. That the NFIP has pretty much been able to cover claims until the recent violent storms of Katrina and elsewhere around the country. The more violent storms that we are seeing that IMO are resulting from the increased warming weather due to increased use of CO2 in the atmosphere from fossil fuel use, is going to be a player in the future of these costs. Why Congress doesn’t act on this and change the law to raise rates appropriately could in part be connected to those man-made global warming deniers in Congress who don’t won’t to do anything to acknowledge that their arguments against this phenomena could be wrong.

    The added fear by congressional animals that don’t raise taxes is in play here too. Their fear of not getting re-elected by angry constituents in these areas to raise flood insurance rates through FEMA is making this a burden to the tax payer not the program itself. It needs to reflect the reality and accommodate those people whose lives have been destroyed here from natural disasters while at the same time pointing out that any rebuilding in that area will incur realistic higher rates in their premiums. I wonder too if some of the people who own this property in low lying areas along water fronts are not well-to-do people who are connected somehow to the people in congress who don’t make these needed changes? You know damn well that if it were all just poor people in these regions that the pro-wealthy, anti-government crowd in Congress would be changing the rules and rates in a New York minute.

    “Now what if I bought up Cayo Batata and built a bunch of houses, and they were destroyed in the next hurricane?”

    Not a fair comparison Matt because your assessing conditions where family property has been in the threatened areas for decades, maybe even centuries before residents were totally unaware of the dire circumstances they faced with that of a generation that has the information before they build in such locales. Building in such locations today is IMO more of a problem since we now know how to better build structures to endure some high-level storms and have early warning technology in place to reduce deaths more than in times past but as I say, with more extreme weather likely to happen due to anthropogenic global warming it would be a higher risk move compared to the times when weather wasn’t as devastating.

    “No, it’s a measure meant to evaluate the “deadly impacts” you were worried about”

    That not true. Here’s my original comment on this – “The hundred year flood is now becoming the 5 year flood due to climate change but at the time, was their really a poor judgment made by buyers in these popular water front properties?”

    You thought I was being hyperbolic about this and I retorted “if you can’t see the writing on the wall with these significant climate changes and their deadly impacts then you are simply in a state of denial.”

    By throwing numbers at me doesn’t diminish the deadly impact of this more extreme weather. Those lower numbers in current times might have been even lower if the extreme weather we’re now seeing was not becoming more extreme. The lower number of deaths doesn’t reflect we are not having more violent storms but as I pointed out, merely that we are adapting to such natural events with our our technology and early warning systems. Your numbers reflect people. It doesn’t mention structural damage costs. One of the world’s leading property insurers, Munich Re, has noted in their news release last September:

    “Large number of weather extremes as strong indication of climate change,” which noted:

    Munich Re’s natural catastrophe database, the most comprehensive of its kind in the world, shows a marked increase in the number of weather-related events. For instance, globally there has been a more than threefold increase in loss-related floods since 1980 and more than double the number of windstorm natural catastrophes, with particularly heavy losses as a result of Atlantic hurricanes.
    The rise in natural catastrophe losses is primarily due to socio-economic factors. In many countries, populations are rising, and more and more people moving into exposed areas.

    At the same time, greater prosperity is leading to higher property values. Nevertheless, it would seem that the only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change. The view that weather extremes are more frequent and intense due to global warming coincides with the current state of scientific knowledge as set out in the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report.

    Comment by lbwoodgate | September 12, 2011

  62. The added fear by congressional animals that don’t raise taxes is in play here too. Their fear of not getting re-elected by angry constituents in these areas to raise flood insurance rates through FEMA is making this a burden to the tax payer not the program itself.

    I partially agree with that — there’s certainly public pressure to keep rates down to protect the freebie. But what you’re missing is that that’s in the very nature of public subsidies. They’ll always have a built-in resistance to change, because most people don’t see them. The few who pay attention are the beneficiaries, and their concentrated voices far exceed their numbers.

    Sugar quotas are a perfect example of this. You and I will never notice the modest but persistent artificial premium in the price of sugar. It might cost you and me a few bucks a year. There won’t ever be enough of a public outcry that the quotas will be defeated. But you know who does notice it? The few people who grow sugar, and their pressure is enough to keep the theft in place forever.

    Not a fair comparison Matt because your assessing conditions where family property has been in the threatened areas for decades, maybe even centuries before residents were totally unaware of the dire circumstances they faced with that of a generation that has the information before they build in such locales.

    I think that’s a smaller problem than you might imagine, because a lot of those generations-old properties have been wiped out and rebuilt with tax dollars. The original owners might not have known, but the ones who got flooded sure knew.

    But I’m willing to compromise on this. We could grandfather in anything built before the creation of the National Flood Insurance Program.

    The global-warming stuff is fun to kick around, but it really isn’t germane to the discussion we started — does insulating people from the downsides of their decisions influence those decisions? I think it does, whether the bad decision is made by a Fannie Mae underwriter or a homebuilder.

    Comment by Matt Bramanti | September 12, 2011


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