If the Bay County Libertarian Party hasn’t thrown in the towel, they should. Hurricane Michael showed, or should have, the foolishness of small government solutions. Natural disasters overwhelm the private sector’s ability to handle recovery and rebuilding. Volunteers from other states along with local organizations have worked diligently to alleviate suffering, but it’s an impossible task without increased state and local assistance.
Earlier this month at the Gulf Power Economic Symposium, Dr. Rick Harper spoke of the economic damage from Hurricane Michael. Bay County alone, Harper noted, suffered $16.5 billion in costs. Imagine a million dollars then multiply that a thousand times and you get a billion; it should stagger the mind. The havoc doesn’t end at the coast either — the regional impact is over $47 billion. The Panhandle along with South Georgia suffered catastrophic timber damage, but it’s naive to think the timber industry will recover in 12 years. As a fourth-generation timber producer, I can correct Dr. Harper. Pulpwood can be harvested in 12 years, but pulpwood provides the least income. Also, wind-damaged wood went to the mills at substantially lower prices than before the storm devastating future cash flows. The economic impact on the timber industry will last decades.
Exasperated constituents have nagged legislators in Washington, D.C., and Tallahassee. Mostly what we’ve gotten is a lot of finger pointing. Republicans blame Democrats who chastise them in return. In Tallahassee, officials seem more interested in toll roads than supplementing education funding in hurricane-damaged areas. Instead of dealing with Michael, now a Cat. Five storm, we saw the most protracted government shutdown in history. Getting government relief with the government closed is difficult.
Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg (I have to spell it; I can’t pronounce it) spoke of his military service and how we’ve lost a sense of civic duty. In a way, our common bonds are fraying. A year and a half ago Hurricane Maria hammered Puerto Rico, and people still don’t have power or clean water. Speaking of drinking water, in Flint, Michigan, it’s polluted and has been for years. A client’s son lives on Long Island, and in 2012 his family went without power for weeks after Superstorm Sandy hit. I mention Sandy because the Florida delegation in the House of Representatives voted overwhelming against adequate hurricane relief. Yes, many did support a scaled down assistance bill, but it essentially propped up the federal flood insurance program, not Hurricane Sandy relief. When fellow Americans suffer, playing politics is unwarranted.
Florida handles hurricane preparation well. Given the increasing frequency of storms, we should look at a mechanism where “rainy day” funds could be available, post-hurricane. People clamoring for Washington and Tallahassee to provide aid should realize it comes from someone’s taxes.
You can’t always get what you want but Buz Livingston, CFP can help you figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit livingstonfinancial.net or drop by 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.