Saturday, October 08, 2005


Recently, a levee broke here in Kansas and about 90 homes were flooded. It was mostly a middle-class neighborhood; it happened in the middle of the night; no one was killed. There hadn't been any excruciatingly severe weather nearby (no hurricanes anyway). Just a couple of storm systems that had come through and they were routine in their severity. Unfortunately, the two cells kind of hovered over two areas and flooded a part of the river, which then burst its banks.

Now, I'm not gonna bitch about flood insurance again (even though I still believe that everybody who owns a home should have it) but the people who live there were told by their insurance companies that they didn't need the coverage. Unfortunately, unless you record all of your phone conversations with your insurance company I imagine it would be pretty hard to prove in court that they told you it wasn't needed.

In this instance, the governor of the state almost immediately declared a disaster area and requested aid from the federal government. The federal government declined to name it a disaster area, and therefore FEMA was unable to help any of the people living there. The insurance companies were probably using data provided to them by the federal government (the Army Corps of Engineers and/or the US geological survey) as to whether or not this area was a floodplain. That is of course, an assumption. It may very well have been from a state or county surveyor who said that it was not a floodplain. What I'm getting at, is that for 90 homeowners, it was a floodplain. Their houses were under water up to the rooftops.

So who's at fault? That's what I'm getting at. Is that the homeowner for not choosing to "waste" money on insurance that he could spend otherwise? (After all, if my house was at the very top of K2, I wouldn't need flood insurance unless God was really angry.) And not everybody has the extra cash flow to waste on insurance that even their insurance company tells them is unnecessary... and we all know how much insurance companies want our money. Is it the local county or state government, who surveys the land and determines where the floodplains are, or is it the federal government? Basically, the person or agency that is responsible for determining floodplains should be found culpable for damage done in non-floodplains when a river bursts its banks. In any case there would be an engineer who'd signed the survey at the very bottom. That person, the engineer... he or she should be held personally and financially responsible. When your decisions are ones that can affect the lives of so many, and you half-ass your job, you should take the responsibility. They should find the engineer who surveyed the land and completely strip him or her of their personal and private assets. Those assets should then be sold at auction and used to help the people whose land was flooded. Of course, engineers don't freelance this kind of work, it's done by some government office somewhere. So (since that engineers of assets obviously won't cover the total costs) we'll have to yank the assets of every supervisor up the food chain right up until we get to an elected official. Once we get to the elected official, it's pitchforks and torches time. I'm not talking about the elected official that's currently in office, rather the one that was in office at the time. They get completely stripped of all their assets as well, and then thrown in prison (a pound-me-in-the-ass prison.) They would remain there until everything is rebuilt, better than before. And, since we may not have arrived at the dollar amount needed to rebuild everything, everybody from elected official down to engineer who surveyed the site remain in prison until they earn enough money to repay everybody, at the $1.75/day rate that federal prisoners earn.

Of course, in my world, when one is given the public’s trust, the absolute last thing you would ever do is betray that trust. And, if we apply this method to the people affected in Louisiana, (because I like taking the abstract and applying it to the absurd) we basically have to go back and seize all assets that still belong to the family of President Thomas Jefferson (after all, he bought the damn place). But, the idea of accountability and public officials, as well as public employees is a good one isn't it?

-- Chuck

No comments: