Wednesday, October 24, 2007

As the world burns...

South Park Pundit would like everyone to know that, despite living in San Diego, he remains unincinerated.

Meanwhile, the Governator's office has released statements to the effect that damages in the googlebuck range are expected ($500 million? Isn't that, like, two crackerbox-size bungalows in LA County?), so be prepared for an orgy of paycheck-raping government proposals to bail out needy fire victims and insurance industry lobbyists with the hard-earned tax dollars of people who elected not to live in tinder-filled wind tunnels located on fault lines.

SemiNatural disasters like this do have an upside, however, in the comedy unleashed afterwards when 90% of Americans flock to their computer keyboards to display their lack of knowledge of exactly what insurance is or how it works. See, most folks believe that insurance companies are some sort of fairy godmothers that exist to shower free money on them if something bad happens. Nothing could be further from the truth. Insurance companies are legal bookies.

For instance, say I want to bet an insurance company that I wouldn't run into an immovable object with the Zed Three this year. They look at me, plug a bunch of factors into a computer (single chick, sports car, but pushing 40 and no moving violations), squint, poke a calculator, and offer to bet me $XXX dollars that I will keep my car out of the ditch for the next twelve months. If the sum seems reasonable, I take the bet. If there are no car/tree interfaces over the time period, the insurance company wins and keeps the money. If they lose, well, too bad for them.

In this case, insurance companies have bet a bunch of people in SoCal that their houses wouldn't burn down. To return to the auto insurance analogy, everybody in LA and San Diego just put their Beemers in a ditch, all at once. Sucks for the insurance companies, but that's the nature of the game; they don't call it "risk" for nothing...

UPDATE: Oh, goody. My prediction has come true. Looks like I'm chipping in, whether I want to or not.
President Bush on Wednesday boosted federal aid to the fire-ravaged area by signing a major disaster declaration. The move will speed federal dollars to people whose property losses aren't covered by insurance.
Why should anyone waste money buying insurance in the first place? Uncle Sugar will just shake you suckers down for the cash if I need it.


Anonymous said...

I only wish that it were true. Unfortunately, just like the idiots in Florida who didn't bother with flood insurance, many of the assholes in Kalifornia didn't bother with fire coverage ("Oh, it's too expensive"). Just wait until the Federal dot-gov comes along with the bailouts.

I just LOVE seeing my federal tax dollars being shelled out to idiots in Florida, or assholes in Kalifornia, who have CHOSEN to live in areas prone to hurricane/fire/mudslide/earthquakes, and yet who fail to insure themselves against these obvious risks.

One of my favorite peeves is federally-funded/subsidized flood insurance, which only encourages stupid behavior. You see it time and again on the TeeVee "news" as they interview the double-wide owner saying, "Well, I guess we'll just have to re-build again." Again?

Didn't their mothers teach them the little ditty about "The Itsy Bitsy Spider"?

Anonymous said...

I am getting pretty sick and tired of some stupid Politician taking my hardearned money and giving it to other stupid sheeple.
My insurance company went belly up after huricane Hugo. You didn't see me sticking around to see it it would happen again.
At what point do we get to say "enough is enough?"

Anonymous said...

What did you expect? The state of Louisiana went tits up BEFORE Katrina hit, and Bush caught all the flak, even though the rules say that the Feds are only there to facilitate (Gods, I hate it when I talk like a Bureaucrat!) the State emergency managers.
And next year's an election year and Calipornia has a lot more influence over the outcome than
And we've already begun recieving Cali refugees up here in WA.
Where, no doubt, Mt Rainier will finally decide that this is The Year, and people around the world will be wondering why we live so close to an active volcano.
And my manager informed me yesterday that I can expect to be leaving for Dago shortly.

Tam said...

"What did you expect?"


And I wasn't. Or rather I was. You know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

AFAIK, most homeowners in the PRK [b]do[/b] have fire insurance. It's required by their mortgage company. It's not even a choice.

Both my mortgages in the PRK have had "impound" accounts that pay both my fire insurance and property taxes.

It's the flood and earthquake insurance that are more optional, depending on where you live.

The major problem with fire insurance, is that unless you keep it updated for reconstruction costs, you won't be fully covered. I usually update every 2 to 3 years, but it's not required.

Kevin said...

I have fire insurance on my house. Living in So Cal, Id be an idiot not to. It's not expensive compared to the cost of building a new home over the ashes of your last domicile.

Billy Beck said...

"At what point do we get to say 'enough is enough?'"

You don't. Ever.

This will doubtless come off as condescending, but I can't help that: the question itself betrays a fundamental misgrappling of the ethics of our times. Pay attention to Frédéric Bastiat:

"The State is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else."

That's what you're dealing with, at root.

Anonymous said...

First, I am sorry for a lot of folks when their homes burn up, it is not a good thing. Second, I don't understand building in all of the beautiful areas full of waist high protected wilderness grasses that turn to tender every year. When you have an annual predictable fire season there might be a need to reconfigure the landscape.

The last observation is that in three months when it starts to rain and every thing turns to mud and then moves on down the hill, as it does in California every year, it will be in the news again.

Of course it is all Bush's fault so we will get to bail them out so they can build again in the same spot.

Now we have to keep the illegal Mexicans who know construction English so they can rebuild California. A never ending cycle.

Anonymous said...

"At what point do we get to say 'enough is enough?'"

You don't. Ever.

Are you familiar with the phrase
"Don't ever give up"?

If we all just say that there is nothing to we can do, then that is exactly what happens.

Definition of insanity:
Doing the same thing over and over and expecting things to change....

Around here if your house burns to the ground and you don't have insurance, you have to rely on the goodness of your friends and family. The guvment doesn't give a hoot about you as a person.

Tam's analogy was dead on. It is pure speculation to buy/not buy homeowners insurance.

I think eventually people will start to fall off the rosters and the tax base will begin to shrink.
When the money dries up things will have to change.

Damn, I almost fell off my soap box!

NotClauswitz said...

We have both fire coverage and earthquake coverage - it's not a choice it's a requirement of the mortgage cost, but we're not in much of a fire zone up north here. It also costs a bundle - I'm sure a lot of the sub-prime loans all had that too because they could squeeze them for more money since theyere was no equity coming out. But in general most people carry the insurance they require if they're here legally and all that.
If the Feds fund something (flood-zone stuff) they're the ones increasing the size of the danger - if they'd tax it fewer people would go there.
F*ing Reid has already said the fires are due to Global Warming - he doesn't know Global Warming from his ass and a Vegas craps table. What a turd.
What's worse is my shootin' club's liability coverage went up 1,000% after 9/11 despite the fact that we're on the good-guys side and have NEVER had an accident...

staghounds said...

Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose:

David Crockett on government charity.

Anonymous said...

Well, mellow first: to the extent that any of these fires are "natural" (and by that I mean "unnatural")--arson, broken power lines, careless welding--I'd be willing to extend the wealth of the commons in aid. It's not really right, but it's not as wrong as rewarding the guilty, and people have grown up with that degree of shared risk being part of the definition of nationhood.

Next, let us not confuse the shared risk of voluntary insurance contracts with claims on fellow citizens. For a few months yet, they are not the same thing. I wish actuarial computations were more regional in scope, and cannot understand why they are not. My complaint dates back almost 20 years, to when I started having to pay extra for having an airtight woodstove because the Californians lit off their wood-shingle roofs. But, I explained, my roof is fireproof, and even if it were not, roofs don't get that dry here. No matter, the insurance people said. It's your fault what they do in California. Obviously, this was the reasoning of an industry that could see nationalization coming.

Finally, I am as pissed beyond all reason as the rest-a-yas: no state's economy is more planned and regulated than Calpurnia's, and this ought to be a lesson on how useless zoning and building codes enforced by governments are.
It's awfully strict for us garage-remodelers and addition-adders; for campaign donors, who "create jobs," not so much.

Further, when you put 10 million people in a hole in the desert, bad things happen. I live in a privately-drained swamp bottom, next to a lake, on top of an oil field, with a refinery. I have no intention of giving up my life because SoCal's is unsustainable.
I won't take that from them.

Anonymous said...

If 90 percent don't understand insurance generally, close to 99 percent don't understand health insurance, and there's no shortage of politicos delighted with that statistic.

Anonymous said...

What y'all are missing is that although Federal funds might have been enough to pay for each lucky Louisianan to build him or herself a nice house to replace the flooded family dwelling, the Feds' dole-out will barely be enough to pay for a Californian to put down first and last on an apartment.

Even with Federal aid, if you don't have full-replacement-value insurance coverage in California, you're screwed.

Tam said...


So'm I if my digs go up in flames. It's called "life"; it's tough sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Don't you live in Tennessee?

If so, then yes life sucks and you should have insurance.

I don't know what your natural disasters are up there, but unless it is big then you are on your own.

Just remember the PRK folks don't have to accept the gov money. They could be honorable and never take the check like decent folks but then again, considering where they live I doubt that will occur.

Gewehr98 said...

Ha-ha. She said "Zed Three" again.

Which reminds me, I gotta go dig out my Zed Zed Top CD and listen to it.

As for insurance premiums climbing in a 4-G zoom after the Kalifornia fires, you can guarantee it. They may even refuse to issue or renew policies, just like the aftermath of the hurricanes in this Yankee's former stomping grounds. Of course, then folks will ask the local governments to step up with their own version, not unlike Florida's current state-run Citizens Property Insurance system.

Anonymous said...

She said "Zed Three" again.

Shhh, don't get her going, or it'll all be "Bay Mah Fay." I know how zeese people get...

So, hey, Yankee, what's a "Gewehr"?