Thursday, November 29, 2012

DC to NE – Drop Dead!



If you’ve lived in NY for a long time, it is very hard to forget this now famous, headline. I think the Daily News will be able to reuse this title page again sometime over the next month or two. NY and NJ have stuck out their hands, and requested a very lumpy $80B from Washington to cover the cost of the clean up from Sandy.



Man is this bad timing. If granted, the cost to the Feds would be reflected in the 2013 budget. Good-bye to any hope of improvement in the overall deficit picture if this nut has to be paid. The $80b that has been requested is more than the revenue from a reversal of the +$250k Bush tax cut. It comes to $530 for every worker in America.


The 2011 Budget Control Act limits annual payments of disaster relief to $11B. So the $80B is going to require a special spending bill. That’s not going to be easy to achieve in Washington with all the Cliff/money issues that are now on the table.


NY’s big Democratic Senator, Chuck Schumer is very much in the middle of this. He knows he has problems with this request. From The Hill (Link).


“There is no doubt this is going to be a hard fight. It comes in the middle of strenuous negotiations around the fiscal cliff.”


Schumer is a weasel; he also had this to say about the process of getting the necessary legislation passed:


I am working to keep the quest for Sandy aid separate from the talks and to preserve a tradition of not offsetting disaster relief. 


“Separate”? How can you keep $80B separate? The issue of not offsetting the cost of a disaster by reducing other spending is not going to come easy. Some Republicans are going to insist that there be cuts in the budget to offset a big portion of the Sandy clean up. An aide for Eric Cantor chimed in with this:


Cantor has made clear that needs beyond the $11 billion allotted by the Budget Control Act will be properly considered.


“Properly considered”? That is Washington speak for, “No way in Hell”.


There is an element of this that is going to prove difficult for the NE legislators. Why are the costs of Sandy so high? Answer:


Schumer wants to do away with limits such as a $31,000-per-home cap on repairs because of high home prices and expenses in the New York area.


Ah! That explains it. The numbers are big because of expensive beachfront homes. This is not going to sell very well, nor should it.


I’m looking for a big fight over this money, and I think it has to be part of the Fiscal Cliff discussions. It is too big a number to sweep under the carpet. There is the broader issue of what really should be the role of the Federal Government when weather turns bad. It’s way past time for a discussion of the costs of cleaning up properties that are in storms way. The folks who don’t live on ocean water, are subsidizing everyone who does.





If you live on the West Coast the weather report this morning is terrible. Another “Pineapple Express” is headed to land. The expectations are for winds north of 80mph and rainfall of as much as 12 inches. If that is what happens, expect to see pictures of houses being washed down the streets of Bel Air. A storm like this could easily cost $10B.



  1. The socialization of losses is what is destroying this country. Bad weather? Let someone else pay. Live near the ocean and get swamped? Let someone else pay. Lost your job? Let someone else pay. Had a kid? Let someone else pay. Need a house? Let someone else pay. Old? Let someone else pay. Fall on the sidewalk? Let someone else pay.

    The foundation of society is rule of law and protection of personal property. When the government exists primarily to take money from one citizen and to give it to others it destroys the natural incentive structure and civilization along with it.


  2. Cow is right.

    Our gov’t no longer functions to protect and defend, they exist to plunder from one to give to another.

    BS is rampant and truth is laughed at.

  3. For those of you who are geographically challenged (ahem BK), NJ is generally not considered part of new england. Neither is NY state. new england is made up of the states: ME, VT, NH, MA, CT and RI. Does “NE” refer to north-east? Again, I must point you in the direction of a map of the north-east most states. hint: same list as new england.

    Your $80 billion estimate does not include any bailout money for any of those states — even though CT, RI and MA were all effected by Sandy. Some coastal communities in those states were effected at least as much as NY

    NYC arrogance and assumption that “THE CITY” needs yet another bailout (not to be confused with the bank bailouts). Its not always about NYC

    I see no reason why people in Vermont “owe” Californians who are too stupid to move away from earthquakes and forest fires. I see no reason why people from Arizona should pay for massive snowfall in Michigan / Wisconsin. No reason why people in Florida should pay for residents living in Mississippi River flood plains. New Yorkers and Snooki did not line up to offer bailout money for Nashville, TN when the Grand Ol’ Oprey was flooded a couple years ago (nor did Tennessee ask for bailouts).

    This isn’t the first time a big hurricane hit the NYC area. Its not even close to the first hit. The hurricane of 1936 destroyed a LOT more area. The difference is the increase in McMansions that stupid NJ and NY built right along the coast, practically in the water in many cases.

    Sandy exposed the arrogance of NYC’s city planners… the original island of Manhattan (determined by mother nature) did not flood (nor did the old French Quarter in New Orleans).

    The flooding was in lower Manhattan like Battery Park … which is developer sales spin for “land fill”. Battery Park City is all the mud they dug out building the World Trade Center sight.

    Mother nature wants that area to be water, and no matter what stupid crap Mayor Bloomie and Crook Schumer want — Mother nature is going to get her way.

    You don’t need another bailout NY/NJ. You need to pull your head out of your @sses.

    • Well, I’m “challenged” over many things, but not geography.

      NE = North East

      You’re thinking NE = New England, and ready to trounce on me.

      • Bruce — I’ve got your back. I knew you meant Northeast and as far as I, and everyone I know, is concerned NY and NJ are definitely a part of it!

        My Dad was from NJ and if anyone had tried to tell him he wasn’t a Northeasterner, he would have called them “NUTS”.

      • @BK: read the last sentence of the first paragraph:
        –> Does “NE” refer to north-east? Again, I must point you in the direction of a map of the north-east most states. hint: same list as new england.

        By any map, the new england states are even more “northeast” than your two bailout states — and you ignored all the damage in new england because you are a pompous new yorker who thinks NYC is better than all the people who are being asked for bailout money

        If you could read english or read a map, then I suppose you would also be smart enough not to build a McMansion on land fill and/or at sea level. It was bad enough when the “toothless bumpkins” of New Orleans built their houses below sea level — but aren’t you super sophisticated elitists in NYC supposed to be smarter than everyone else?

        You couldn’t even remember Connecticut, Rhode Island or Massachusetts for your proposed taxpayer rip-off scam. They are all new england AND north east

        • I don’t write these things down. Most of the effort is thinking what I want to say. What words I want use. I think of sentences for the beginning and ending before sitting down to type.

          Very often a title comes to me and I start the blog by typing that first. The rest is just a regurgitation of the stuff in my head.

          Anyway, when I saw the article in the Hill about this, the first thing I thought of was the “Drop Dead” article from long ago; the second thing was “DC to NE – Drop Dead. From there it was easy.

          And that is the way it went. North East, because it was a Nor-Easter that hit the coast. NE because the storm hit the North East part of the country. And NE because it worked with DC.

          Give me a break, I’m just a dumb blogger….

          • Its bad enough that NY’ers think theirs is THE city. Its bad enough to regularly make fun of toothless country bumpkins divorcing our first cousin to marry our other cousin. Its bad enough to claim that other people aren’t as fast or as well educated or as sophisticated as NYers.

            But if your state is asking for yet another handout, you should at least try not to tell your proposed benefactors that their states don’t exist. Ask the homeless people in THE city for advice on begging without pissing off the very people you hope will give you a handout.

            While you are at it, ask them about why they don’t “build” their boxes in places where they know puddles form after a rainstorm. They might have some great advice for THE city’s planning and zoning commission.

            As for as toothless bumpkins … some of us were recently up in the NE — fixing utility lines. My brother was ushered out of NJ because he is non-union, and the local utility guys had a hissy. So he went and fixed power lines out in CT somewhere — which he said looked like it was in worse shape utility-wise than NJ (no, he didn’t visit Staten Island). While the CT utilty guys claimed it would take another two weeks to fix the lines in whichever town my brother was in — his crew of country bumpkins got it done in three days… and the CT boys had *MUCH* better equipment to work with. Supposedly two towns in CT actually went so far as to order their utilty workers to stand down and take orders from the crew chief from North Carolina — who proceeded to get the job done in less than half the time.

            The out of state utility guys got paid a flat rate, so they weren’t dragging things out to get time and half for their union contract. So they did in 3-4 days what the CT utility guys said would take 14 days… You are welcome CT!

            (apologies to Govs Christie and Cuomo who kept their citizens in the dark for weeks to protect union campaign donors)

            • Bubba,
              Take a deep breath…
              what lies before us and what lies behind us are only tiny matters to what lies within us!
              Ralph Waldo Emerson..

              I’m so tired of bailouts that I just want to take the blue pill

          • Bruce-

            You have intelligent things to say that people want to read. Arguing about the semantics of NE is not on the list.

  4. “Our gov’t no longer functions to protect and defend, they exist to plunder from one to give to another.”

    Don’t forget they take their fat cut and kickbacks.

    It’s simple. Buy insurance, save your money for a rainy day, and/or go #### yourself !!

    I’d gladly bail these people out, if they wanna sell at fair distressed market value. If not, eat rubble.

  5. A year ago, the NYC area was hit by hurricane / tropical storm Irene. Irene flooded many of the same areas effected by Sandy, exposed all sorts of infrastructure issues that needed to be addressed ASAP.

    What did the poop for brains mayor of NYC do? “His Honor” got obsessed with soda cup sizes. That is what he thought was most important after seeing Irene’s damage. Congratulations morons of NYC. While your homes and city flooded, you were protected from oversize soda servings.

    You voted for Obama too. Wait till you idiots get the bill for “free” health care

  6. Budget? What budget?

    Harry Reid’s Senate hasn’t done a budget in over three years

  7. Well, maybe if they agree to turn sandbars like the entire Rockaway area into public parks with no housing allowed.

    What do you think would happen down here in NC every 2-3 years if we had several hundred thousand homes on our barrier islands?

  8. Calif recently placed a annual fire tax on property built in wilderness/rural locations that depend on the state forestry fire dept.. Much howling from the 1 % and 47% about this fee but the reality is that the rest of the state residents are paying for a few folks to build and live in the sticks. Calif is not alone as much of the West Coast States have allowed significant development in rural counties that welcomed the build outs but had no resources to provide fire protection. This also goes for the extensive road building that has happened over the past 30 years in rural locations that cannot afford to repave so counties such as Sonoma are turning these roads back to gravel.
    The East Coast Coastal build out looks pretty extensive and most of the homes and business has been able to secure Federal flood insurance, so should the government deny Flood insurance to area’s prone to flooding or get out of the insurance risk business? Should we tell anyone living outside large metro areas that fire protection is there problem? The list gets pretty long,

    80 billion sounds like a big number but the NE is important RE to this country will millions of residents and yes we can afford to help them rebuild.

    • You sound like a generous guy Ron. Why don’t you send a few checks to help people rebuild. I’m happier letting them learn the lesson that they are responsible for their own decisions. Why would I pay for their mistakes? I don’t ask anyone to pay for mine.

      • Five years ago my cousin a organic dairy farm in washington state was hit with a sudden flood that sent 8 feet of water through his property killing all his dairy herd and ruining very expensive equipment, machinery and did major damage to his home. His herd was worth over 500K to replace,machinery, tools, milking equipment, electrical damage, clean up cost were well north of 500K and to make matters worse he had lost his dairy income and owed the bank 700K. It seemed like it was time to call it quits but today he is running the same farm thanks to the following: church groups that sent clean up crews on the weekends, cash donations from local citizens,corporations, organic dairy farmers in Calif that donated high valued organic cows, hay and feed companies that donated supplies,local plumbers/electric/builders that donated time to repair and replace equipment.
        My role in this was contacting Washington corporations and suppliers for assistance and spent many days calling and visiting Calif organic dairymen and asked for there help. My reward was not only getting my cousins farm back up and running but meeting and talking to many people that had faced serious sudden unexpected problems and had been assisted by others, so they were glad to be part of the solution and donated there money and property. It was a good lesson that I needed to learn!
        links to the event:


      • Its time for people to learn about risk..you would think they know better since their near the epicenter of it.

        Cow is right and good rant above!

    • “rural counties that welcomed the build outs but had no resources to provide fire protection”

      Very simple. Give no fire protection. Burn, baby, burn.

      If locales wanna levy their own taxes, fine, but it should be illegal for the state to levy different taxes to different areas. There’s thing thing call “insurance”. Let the professional actuaries figure it out.

  9. Small.Business.Guy.1 says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing Chuckie Schumer trying to pull this whopper thru the Senate, much less the House. When I think of him, it’s always “Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate”.

    Chuckie was always really good at keeping who owed him (‘favors owed’ book) up to date and twisting people’s arms (“a friend in need is a screwdriver”), and being a gloating media hound to boot, and that’s in no way forgotten by all the folks who have been screwed over by him more than a few times.

    He’s going to have it hard, particularly when your Senate ‘team’ pushing this consists of himself, Kirsten Gillibrand (lightweight), Robert Menendez, and Frank Lautenberg. Yeah, that will work….NOT!

  10. I knew he meant north east when I saw the headline, in the same way I could instantly recognize Bubba Joe as being from the great State of Asshole.

    • I also thought northeast … new england was my second guess

      The pricks of NY/NJ aren’t new england, and there are five other states in the northeast that were effected by Sandy but not mentioned in the post.

      And NE = Nebraska would be a third guess.

      Who assumes the garbage state and gotham city are the only toilet bowls in the northeast? Don’t they teach a little geography between indoctrinating NYC kids in bailout culture?

  11. This piece has 20k reads in three emags at the moment. Last I saw about 150 comments, not one of them about geography. But my home page takes me to task. Go figure.

    I think I will just drink a vat of gin and foregetaboutit.

  12. You give weasels a bad name when you compare Schumerface to them

  13. Let’s see what the tea party thinks of their fair haired boy gov. Christie now that he needs a bailout.

  14. Small.Business.Guy.1 says:

    “Let’s see what the tea party thinks of their fair haired boy gov. Christie now that he needs a bailout.”

    Who cares? It’s the same way with Andrew Cuomo in NY State. Both individuals are Governors of states directly hit by Sandy, so why would you not expect a request for federal disaster assistance from the lead elected officials of both states?

    The point is, can they make the numbers ($80 bil is a chunk of change), and probably more importantly, the terms and conditions for federal assistance work – and in this case, the devil(s) is in the details. The pols are asking for special terms and conditions that nobody else around the country has ever gotten, and it’s kind of open ended ($80 bil today, $??? more tomorrow). It certainly hasn’t helped matters any that Mayor Bloomie has wasted precious political capital this last couple of years on a few ‘crusades’ that now look extremely foolish in hindsight.

    You got to step back and take stock of the political ‘team’ that has to get this across the finish line:
    – Sen. Chuckie Schumer (D-NY)
    – Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY; still as ‘lightweight’)
    – Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
    – Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ; also 88 years old)
    – Governor Andrew Cuomo (D; but a player)
    – Governor Chris Christie (R; but a player)
    – NY Mayor Bloomberg (a player)
    – Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker (up and comer)

    There’s much of your ‘sales team’ for this project. Now, with that mix of toxic/ineffectual personalities (especially at the top; less so as you get further down the list), how are you going to make it happen?

    • When the Feds bailed out home owners along the Mississippi river a decade or so back (people who’s homes were flooded / destroyed, because their property was in what every surveyor agreed was a FLOOD PLAIN) — the recipients of federal aid were TOLD, not asked, to move their homes to higher ground as a condition of getting any aid.

      When NY state bailed out NYC in the 1970s (following the sensationalist “drop dead” headline) … NY state gave the money with conditions attached. NYC had to submit budgets to Albany for possible veto and in some cases unilateral change (Albany can alter some parts of NYC’s budget against NYC objections). If NYC did not accept those conditions, no bailout.

      So unless the pansies in NY/NJ (whoops “NE”) states expect to get special treatment (which will make Crook Schumer’s proposal dead on arrival) … NJ/NY should have to accept conditions for any bailout money. Obvious first condition: you may not build McMansions or Snooki MTV houses that are on the beach almost in the water during “normal” tides. Much of Staten Island cannot be re-developed (all parts not at least 20ft above mean high tide). The lower tip of Manhattan (aka “land fill”) cannot be redeveloped.

      What are the chances that arrogant NY/NJ residents would accept the same terms that they would impose on the rest of the country?

      P.S. — Since we know that at least half of the $80 billion requested (probably more) is really for union make-work subsidies, not rebuilding at all, its a fair bet the loser in the White House will bow and grovel to the AFL-CIO. Its not like Obama can think independently, and the unions have not been subtle in telling their president that he owes them. The reason Crook Schumer is being so ballsy is because he knows Obama cannot say no to unions, and that is where this $80 billion is really headed.. Port Authority, MTA, NYC Sanitation Dept, various Dept of Public Works all over NJ — the opportunities for collecting “overtime”, jacking up pensions, is just too big of a score for the crooks to pass up.

      Future generations (aka YOUR KIDS) will get the bill for all this “free money” they are handing out to their political cronies

  15. schumer and laugtenberg and bloomberg are anti constitutionalist and now they want the US citizens that they are against as in the bill of rights 2 ND AMENDMENT…AND MORE ..to help bail them out…FUATHURIO….

  16. Just when I thought one good deed might truly go unpunished, I scrolled down after your post only to find several antagonistic comments. Nonetheless, I do hope you will carry on, Bruce, as I’ve come to rely quite heavily on the kindness of brainy bloggers like you.

  17. I know it’s a lot more fun to flame the author than to take a moment to look at the problem rationally, but what the heck. Here a re a few thoughts. First, coastal commercial real estate is HUGELY important to all of us. Think about grain exports going down the Mississippi and getting on container ships in NOLA. Those exports contribute enormously to our national current accounts. Or, the container ports in Long Beach, NJ, NYC, etc. These are critically important economic infrastructure that can’t be located elsewhere. Somewhat like crop insurance (you have to make it possible for farmers to stay on the land after one or two catastrophic weather years if you want to eat), you may need to have a federal program to allow these commercial businesses to insure themselves in a reasonable way – IF the market doesn’t provide such a mechanism. But, protection of residential real estate, especially second homes for the wealthy as an example, should be the problem of their owners, who should have to be privately insured or take their losses. Now what about the people, often poorly paid, who we need to work at businesses engaged in economically critical industries? We need people to work at those oil refineries in LA, or load container ships, or work in a range of other jobs in areas that are prone to storms and earthquakes. Some kind of economic security is required, unless you are a fan of the pay later part of the “pay now or pay later” concept, but paying later will almost always cost more. So, think of a way to make it possible for ill paid but necessary workers to own and protect their homes. Silicon Valley on the other hand, could do business in Lincoln Nebraska if it wanted to, and there’s no reason to subsidize its eternal summer in an earthquake zone if we choose not too, especially as the internet becomes more and more dispersed. But, policy won’t be made on the basis of rational thought, so, I guess it’s more fun to just rant.

  18. “So, think of a way to make it possible for ill paid but necessary workers to own and protect their homes. ”

    No problem. Eliminate city/county planning boards. No more building codes that only drive up costs. Caveat emptor. Friend of mine move up awhile back. 9X11 cabin to a 11X13 cabin on stilts. He’s lived like that for 40 years.

    Oh, no property insurance. No building codes. No bureaucrats attempting to justify their jobs. Oh, no property taxes. He never made more than $15K USD.

    People confuse desires with needs. Read a little Maslow!

    • I’m not suggesting, or passing judgement on solutions, only trying to place the problem in a context of why these things are important to everyone at various levels, and not just another “take care of yourself” issue. Very low cost “disposable” housing might be one answer. It’s certainly a worthy thought experiment, and possibly worth a real experiment. So, if I conduct that thought experiment, one might think about this. When too many people live in one place without appropriate sewage, sanitation and all of those things that are associated with community standards and zoning, eventually unfortunate things like cholera and typhoid tend to arise. Which impact not only the people at their source but many others – possibly even you. No man is an island, even one with a house on stilts.