The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance

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Of the tens of thousands of Lousianans who had their homes flooded this month, most do not have flood insurance. They weren’t supposed to need it, because flooding had never been a problem where they live. And now it is clear that the federal emergency help they receive will be wholly inadequate.

Louisiana’s flood victims are in a terrible predicament, and they are not alone. In the America of 2016, thousand-year catastrophes seem to be occurring on a monthly schedule, while we remain stuck with pre-greenhouse home insurance. That is leaving countless families economically devastated.

In the greenhouse era, it’s obvious which communities around the nation and world are under direst threat of climatic disaster. But with the big capitalist economies unwilling to stop their assaults on the Earth’s atmosphere and surface, it’s no longer possible to say that in the future any place or anyone will be disaster-proof. Even if, against all odds, the world starts turning the global ecological crisis around, we will all be needing robust disaster protection for decades to come.

In our book How the World Breaks, we propose the United States tackle these problems with a universal public insurance program to cover not just floods but all geoclimatic disasters. (We also propose a disaster-protection strategy for the global South, but here we focus on our domestic proposal.)

Private disaster insurance is full of sinkholes

It’s the nation’s flood insurance program that was…

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