Interesting story in the WashPost yesterday: Insurers are washing their hands of high-risk areas. With 2006’s hurricane season predicted to be as bad as 2005’s, your friendly Allstate man is saying, “You know, I never liked Florida.” You’re on your own, guys. No more homeowners’ insurance for you. Or rather, you can have a little bit, and let’s see if we can’t get your uncle to pick up the rest.
I don’t know what to think of all this. When I was in college, Los Angeles suffered a series of those apocalyptic winter storms that sends houses plunging down hillsides. Of course, to own a house on a hillside in the first place you had to be rich, and so I was confronted with the puzzling cognitive dissonance: Now you must feel sorry for Linda Rondstadt and Marvin Mitchelson. Poor babies, they’re homeless. My L.A. boyfriend at the time explained it all to me: “They build in unsafe places, enjoy the amazing views for however long it lasts. Then the house falls down, the government declares the neighborhood a disaster area and they get money to rebuild at 3 percent. And they make their next house on the hillside twice as big and wait for it to fall down in a few more years.”
I have no idea if this cynical take on things is true, but I think it’s probably true at the heart — well-to-do people can always game the system.
This is interesting: As companies raise premiums, shed customers and battle homeowner claims in hurricane-damaged states, an overhaul of the industry is being promoted by an unusual coalition. It includes Allstate and State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. as well as a bipartisan group of state regulators, academic experts and former homeland security officials. They propose establishing a greater role for the federal government in backing up new state catastrophe funds or private insurance firms when losses exceed a certain level, toughening state and local building codes and increasing premiums to accurately price risks. Some also want to potentially pool the high costs of covering perils such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and even floods into regional or national groups to ease consumer cost, and to use some money to help improve first responders and local preparedness.
A greater role for the federal government. I wonder how many of those waterfront property owners vote Republican.
So how was your weekend? Mine was fine. Didn’t see “Akeelah and the Bee” — I was put off by a tepid review, but will probably see it if the next opportunity coincides with a rainy day. We spent much of a fine weekend outdoors, and I have the Rudolphian nose to prove it. Every year I tell myself to be more on the ball, sunscreen-wise, but in April the sun still feels like a gift, something to turn your face up to happily, rather than something to hide from, chemically or otherwise. Kate has joined a soccer league, so I spent much of the weekend watching her play. I guess that makes me a soccer mom. Minus the minivan. So be it.
Didn’t see “Brokeback Mountain,” either. For the fourth straight weekend, the B’buster was fresh out. Who knew there was such an audience for this chick flick? We compensated with “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio” and ‘A History of Violence.” The former wasn’t as good as I hoped, but Julianne Moore was, as expected, wonderful. And it was nice to see a toxic, dysfunctional family situation presented honestly, even when it existed in that golden time when no families were toxic or dysfunctional — the 1950s. There’s a scene with the family’s priest, who comes over to offer marital counseling after a physical argument in this impoverished, alcoholic household, that reminded me, again, of my old L.A. boyfriend. He use to take me to Ohio University’s Hillel on Sunday mornings, where we had a fine all-you-can-eat lox-and-bagels brunch for some criminally low price. The rabbi would table-hop, and after one excruciating conversation I expressed wonder that a man entrusted with leading a flock would be so uncharismatic. “They don’t send the A-team to Athens, Ohio,” he said. When the priest regards this shabby household, and his response is to tell the single person holding it together that she needs “to make a better home,” it occurred to me that the Catholic church probably doesn’t send its A-team to Defiance, either.
“A History of Violence” was fine, too. Why doesn’t Viggo call? It’s not like he can’t find me.