Catastrophic catastrophic flood insurance

I’ve often written about situations where free markets don’t work. This time, for a change, I’m writing about a situation where government caused disasters by interfering with a free market. In 1965, Hurricane Betsy struck the Gulf Coast, causing massive damage. At the time, no companies offered flood insurance. So in 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is managed by FEMA. Although flood data allowed some commercial insurers to start offering flood insurance over the following decades, there was a problem: NFIP insurance was really affordable.

The OPM “hack” and related matters

As government officials answered questions about the recent Office of Personnel Management data breach, former and current congressional staffers processed the notices they are receiving from the agency that they, too, were affected by the breach. A consultant who did some work with a company contracted by OPM to manage personnel records for a number of agencies told Ars that he found the Unix systems administrator for the project “was in Argentina and his co-worker was physically located in the [People’s Republic of China].

Food labeling news

I’ve noticed some recent discussion and news coverage of the idea of labeling foods with red, amber or green labels, based on how healthy they are. It’s known as the ‘traffic light’ system. This isn’t actually a new idea. It was proposed in 2006 in the UK, but didn’t happen then because of objections from the processed food industry. Studies had examined the effect of the traffic light labels on people’s eating, compared to US-style ‘recommended daily intake‘ labels.

Nice “work” if you can get it

Total current budget for Maine nuclear inspectorate: $276,000/year. Number of employees: 2. Salaries: $71,000/year for nuclear safety inspector, $76,000/year for his advisor. Year when safety inspector job was supposedly eliminated: 2005. Total nuclear facilities in Maine: 0. [source ] Salary of Clerk of Court in Pasco, Florida: $136,576. Number of days you have to fail to bother to turn up in order to be sackable: 44. Resulting number of days of work required per annum: 8.

Beyond satire

Official White House proclamation: The Congress, by Public Law 85-529, as amended, has designated May 1 of each year as “Loyalty Day.” This Loyalty Day, and throughout the year, I ask all Americans to join me in reaffirming our allegiance to our Nation. NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 1, 2007, as Loyalty Day. I call upon the people of the United States to participate in this national observance and to display the flag of the United States on Loyalty Day as a symbol of pride in our Nation.

White House switches to Outlook

White House switches from Lotus Notes to Outlook for e-mail. White House suddenly develops massive e-mail lag problems. The switch is, of course, totally unrelated to Bill’s generous donations to George W’s election campaign.