In those California fires:
Elsewhere there was anger over the superior fire protection enjoyed by rich homeowners, thanks to insurance companies that dispatched private crews to tackle blazes threatening multi-million dollar homes.
American International Group, an insurance company, offers its richest customers protection through firefighting firm Firebreak Spray Systems.
The policy is only available to residents in California\’s wealthiest communities, including Malibu, Beverly Hills and Newport Beach, whose premiums exceed $10,000 a year and homes cost at least $1 million.
This week, the company sprayed foam retardant on more than 160 homes in Malibu, Lake Arrowhead and the hardest-hit areas of Orange and San Diego counties, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Sounds pretty sensible to me, that if you\’ve got the money you might spend it on such insurance.
Social commentator Naomi Klein described it as a "disaster apartheid" in which the affluent were better equipped for emergencies. "Survival shouldn\’t be a luxury item," she told the Los Angeles Times.
Err, a few things occur. Firstly, this isn\’t about survival: it\’s about the protection of property. Secondly, there are really only two options here. That either these rich should be barred from spending their own money as they wish…or the same protection should be governmentally funded for all. As the premiums are $10,000 a year, that doesn\’t look all that sensible. To say nothing of the moral hazard. If people wish to live in a desert liable to catch fire, just as if they wish to live in a flood plain, on a beach subject to storm damage or in an earthquake zone, of course, they\’ve got every right to live somewhere so stupid. But that\’s no reason for the State to subsidize their doing so.