Conspiracy Theorist 8/28: Unnatural Disasters

I t’s official. Power has finally been restored to everybody in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria last fall. MSN reports, “More than nine months after Hurricane Maria struck, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is reporting that it has restored power to 99.9 percent of its customers.”

Socialism turns natural hazards into disasters

By Mark Luedtke

It’s official. Power has finally been restored to everybody in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria last fall. MSN reports, “More than nine months after Hurricane Maria struck, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is reporting that it has restored power to 99.9 percent of its customers.”

Oops. Nearly a year after Maria, some Puerto Ricans still don’t have power. And lack of electricity wasn’t the only problem. According to Reuters, households in Puerto Rico suffered an average of 68 days without water, 84 days without electricity, and 41 days without cell phone coverage.

It’s amazing that only 65 people died. That’s the official death toll anyway. A Harvard University study estimates 4,645 died, but “the actual number could be as low as 793 and as high as 8,498, the study showed,” according to the same article.

Reason explains bureaucrats inevitably fail to count indirect deaths from disasters. After Hurricane Katrina, “… researchers found that the monthly rate of death notices in the Times-Picayune averaged 924 per month in 2002–2004, but rose to 1,317 per month between in the first half of 2006. Roughly calculated, that means that there were 2,358 excess deaths in the period after Katrina.”

New Orleans suffered major floods earlier this year, and residents discovered despite the billions spent by the federal government to fix its floodwater infrastructure, the same problems that existed before Katrina persist. But a lot of local rulers and cronies got richer.

The abject failure of rulers to prepare Puerto Rico for a major hurricane and to recover from Maria has widespread consequences. The Orlando Sentinel informs, “Nearly half of Puerto Ricans surveyed in Florida said they are not returning to the island, while most listed not knowing English as their number one challenge in adjusting to life on the mainland, a new survey shows.”

That’s 50,000 to 150,000 Puerto Ricans planning to stay in Florida, many at taxpayer expense.

The problem of socialism and the hubris and corruption that always come with it turning natural hazards into disasters isn’t limited to hurricanes or the United States. Ready Nutrition explains, “Pretty much every time there is an earthquake, a fire, or a storm that kills hundreds or thousands of people, you’ll find that people failed to prevent the preventable. They built unstable buildings and failed to maintain levees. Or they built homes where they should have never been built.”

Standing on a hill above Fukushima, the site of the Japanese nuclear power plant that was destroyed by a tsunami in 2011 and which continues to leak radiation into the ocean today, is an ancient stone marker bearing the inscription: “High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants. Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point.”

People ignored that warning resulting in a disaster affecting a quarter of the planet.

In the same way, the US government subsidizes people to live in disaster zones. Mark Nestmann writes, “The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) … came into existence in 1968 after most commercial insurance companies pulled out of the market following record-breaking claims from Hurricane Betsy. The handful of companies that stayed charged such high premiums that few homeowners in flood-prone areas could afford coverage. …

“Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked. In 2014, Congress reversed many of its previous reforms because owners in flood-prone areas complained coverage was no longer affordable. Meanwhile, development on floodplains has exploded, especially in coastal areas. Now, after paying out nearly $25 billion to policyholders in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the NFIP is broke.”

As for wildfires, in 2015 Fox News noted, “With 190 million acres of land under its control, the Forest Service is ill-equipped to manage land to prevent fires or protect property once blazes break out, said Robert Smith, distinguished fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment.”

Socialist land management enables the widespread wildfires we see every year. In contrast, the profit motive incentivizes private landowners to manage their land to prevent fires.

Calling for government to prevent natural disasters is like calling on gangsters to prevent crime. Ron Paul summarizes, “Federal disaster assistance hinders effective recovery efforts, while federal insurance subsidies increase the damage caused by natural disasters.”

Free markets, where prices are allowed to skyrocket—mistakenly called price gouging—ensure the most needed resources get to the neediest people as fast as possible.

If you want to help victims of disasters, embrace free markets, not socialism.

The views and opinions expressed in Conspiracy Theorist are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at MarkLuedtke@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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