Economic Cross Currents

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I’m not concerned by cross currents in the winds aloft; but I am very concerned about the ones within our society …. especially the ones based on knowledge vs. those based on short term profits, and the impact on us.

As an example, consider the economics of weather impacts, for now I’ll just mention hurricanes.  The economic impacts of hurricanes are enormous, but the politicians don’t want to recognize the facts since they are funded by corporations with short term interests.  When large hurricanes come ashore, they increasingly plow through denser population developments.  This is because our populations tend to congregate in more urban developments along the edges of the oceans.  At the same time our urban densities are increasing, so are hurricanes with larger areas of widespread major rainfall; therefore, floods cause a lot more damage now.

How do we respond?  Our major network news outlets, also funded by the corporations, give the storms major coverage when they hit, but little to no coverage afterwards.  Thousands of homeowners and small businesses are destroyed and many people are out of work for a long time until the economy recovers, but does it?  The TV networks don’t spend any time covering the aftermath.

What usually happens is that the government is burdened with larger and larger costs to provide relief and loans.  It seems to me that a lot of this goes to rebuilding in the same areas, just so that they can be destroyed and rebuilt again after the next time …. often multiple times.  Yes, some of the rebuilt buildings are stronger and better able to withstand damage the next time, but don’t forget the next storms will more likely also be even stronger.

For those who are thinking that is why we have insurance, that insurance will cover it … it doesn’t.  In the best of cases insurance only covers a portion of the overall cost.  Also, don’t forget that more hurricane damage is caused by flooding.  And even the U.S. Government flood insurance program is not adequately funded. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers the insurance in the U.S., owed $24.6 billion as of March 2017 to the Department of the Treasury for money borrowed.  That was before this year’s major hurricanes hit.

I wonder how many of the people never recover from their financial loss.  I know it has a major long-term impact on the overall economy since the funds used for relief and recovery are funds that are not available for other uses.  In today’s economy with our growing debts, there is sure to be a long term decrease in available financial resources for major infrastructure maintenance, defense, and other services.  What is going to happen after one too many major climate/weather related impacts exceed our ability to financially recover?

In the meanwhile, storms will get larger, taxes will go up, debts will get larger, natural resources will get more expensive, food will cost more, medical costs will go up, corporation’s profits will go up, and those of us with incomes that don’t keep up with the increased costs will just get poorer and poorer.  Who will help us?  Nobody.

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