Fla. Governor's Expensive Trip
I've never taken LSD. In the years when I could have had access to the mind-altering drug, I was studying to be an accountant. "First you qualify, then there'll be time for acid," my parents might not have said, had they known about LSD.
There was another, more compelling, reason: All my friends who took LSD, which is to say just about all my friends at the time, had a thoroughly bad experience with it. One became schizophrenic. Another spent 18 hours staring transfixed at a TV that he thought was bringing him nonstop scenes of Satanic horror--but the set wasn't plugged in. The disgusting images were in his mind.
At life's end, it is said, one regrets only those things one did not do. I am therefore grateful to Florida Governor Charlie Crist for sparing me the regret of not finding out firsthand what the world looks like on LSD.
The governor's name is pronounced to rhyme with "kissed," but he clearly has a Jesus complex. Rather than turning water into wine, however, this prophet has turned reality into fantasy. Taking the long view, Hurricane Charlie will stick the American taxpayer--for the majority of readers, that means you--with a larger bill than Camille, Katrina or any other major storm you care to name.
Too bad if you don't like it: this is one Crist-mess gift that cannot be returned. Taxpayers from sea to shining sea will sooner or later be paying for Florida's major storm losses until the real messiah reappears to end their pain.
I'm assuming you know all about this. But in case you've been in a coma, here's a summary: People who live where hurricanes routinely hit in Florida were fed up with the high cost of home insurance.
Last November, they elected a man who said he could fix that. Upon taking office, he socialized home insurance in Florida and set up a fund with about $42 in it to meet losses from future hurricanes.
A couple of big storms from now, when Florida's catastrophe fund goes bust, the state's homeowners will be stuck with ruinous bills they won't be able to afford. The cost will have to be met federally, that means by homeowners in every state but Florida. Good luck balancing that budget, Barack.
For insureds, Crist's psychedelic policy is a one-shot pony. No reinstatements. One seriously expensive storm and the fund goes broke. Two, and everyone in Florida, not just those who choose to live where it hurts, gets a bill. Three or more--in 2004 there were four--and your income taxes will be heading north like a space rocket.
The harder you think about it, the woozier you become. It starts with the homeowners, who insist on living in the path of killer storms. Refusing to pay a premium appropriate to the risk, they seek salvation in the Salvador Dali of governance, who drives over to some people living on safe ground and kicks them in the groin.
Initially, I thought the socialization was more Mussolini than Marx. National socialism--that rings a bell. Then I realized it was more Marx--of the Groucho kind. Crist has institutionalized the idea that no one is responsible for his or her actions.
Such was essentially Mussolini's message. But where Il Duce ended up hanging from a lamppost, Crist will probably retire on a full pension, or go on to become president. Bad as it is, though, his decision will have one beneficial side effect. A generation of college students no longer needs to experiment with LSD. Watching an unplugged TV set could not possibly be as mesmerizing as observing a deeply cynical politician take steps to bankrupt his nation.
ROGER CROMBIE lives in Bermuda.
April 1, 2007
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