The Florida Fantasy Meets Hard Reality
How a hideous, diabolical, pestilential, God-abandoned hellhole became our 3rd largest state.
Apropos yesterday’s post “Insuring Against the Inevitable,” author Michael Grunwald takes to The Atlantic to contemplate “Why the Florida Fantasy Withstands Reality.”
Ian has brought some new attention to the story I wrote for Politico Magazine after my visit to Cape Coral in 2017, “The Boomtown That Shouldn’t Exist.” The subtitle warned: “One big storm could wipe it off the map.” The gist was that Cape Coral was an unsustainable paradise, and that it also represented the future of the Florida dream in an age of rising seas and extreme weather, “the least natural, worst-planned, craziest-growing piece of an unnatural, badly planned, crazy-growing state.” I wrote that it was fair to ask “what the hell 20 million Americans are doing in a flood-prone, storm-battered peninsula that was once the nation’s last unpopulated frontier,” because the bill for decades of Florida lies, greed, and myopia would eventually come due.
Now it has, with Ian expected to displace Irma as Florida’s costliest storm. I’m sad for the victims. I’m angry at the state’s venal and short-sighted politicians. But I’m also worried about the future, because I suspect Brian Tattersall was right. Once the debris gets cleared, people will keep flocking to Cape Coral, and to Florida. And Mother Nature will still bat last.
The tragedy of Ian ought to help more Floridians understand the consequences of environmental destruction, perfunctory planning, and climate denial. I’ve been banging my spoon on my high chair about humanity’s dysfunctional relationship with nature in Florida ever since I wrote a book about it in 2006; I even wrote a premature requiem for the state before Irma. But the left-leaning social-media warriors who have used my work to chide Floridians for living in harm’s way, aside from being obnoxious and heartless, have missed half my point.
I’m not all that familiar with Grunwald’s previous work, much less whatever trauma he’s faced at the hands of “social-media warriors” of whatever political stripe, so let’s move past that. Because he makes some really good points.
After all, I’m a Floridian in harm’s way too. The allure of the Sunshine State is not a myth invented by Governor Ron DeSantis. It’s true that our disasters would be less disastrous if more people understood why this unsustainable paradise is unsustainable, but our politics might be less disastrous if more people understood why it still feels like paradise.
This gets to what I was saying yesterday: even beyond Florida, there seems to be a natural human impulse to live near the water. More on that later.
But, first, some important setup:
In its natural state, most of Florida was such a soggy mush of low-lying marshes that mapmakers couldn’t decide whether to draw it as land or water. The Spaniards who arrived in the 16th century told their king the peninsula was “liable to overflow, and of no use,” and white people mostly stayed away until the U.S. Army chased the Seminole Indians into the Everglades in the 19th century. The soldiers forced to slog through its mosquito-infested bogs described it as a “hideous,” “diabolical,” “repulsive,” “pestilential,” “God-abandoned” hellhole.
The story of Florida in the 20th century is about dreamers and schemers trying to get rid of all that water and drain the swamp. Eventually, they mostly succeeded, transforming a remote wilderness into a sprawling megalopolis, replacing millions of acres of wetlands with strip malls and golf courses and sprawling subdivisions, building the Palmetto and Sawgrass Expressways where palmettos and sawgrass used to be. But their war on nature had brutal environmental costs. They wiped out half the Everglades and discombobulated the other half. They destroyed mangrove swamps and other natural flood protections. They threw nature out of whack, which is why Florida routinely yo-yos between structural droughts and vicious floods, and why so many of its bays and lakes and reefs and aquifers are collapsing.
Cape Coral is Florida on steroids, a comically artificial landscape featuring seven perfectly rectangular man-made islands and eight perfectly square man-made lakes. It was built by two shady brothers who made their fortunes selling scammy anti-baldness tonics, then used their talent for flimflam to sell inaccessible swampland to suckers. They didn’t bother to build sewers or parks or other infrastructure, except all those eco-destructive plumbing canals designed to dry out the floodplain and create waterfront property along their banks. It was just a real-estate play, a quarter-acre in middle-class heaven for $20 down and $20 a month, and the suckers bought it, even after the hucksters got busted for fraud.
Environmental destruction is bad, especially for a state whose natural resources are its best selling point, and it’s a shame that the drive to tame nature that carved Cape Coral out of a swamp has been so prevalent in Florida. Fraud is also bad, and also synonymous with a state whose real-estate market has been a punch line for a century. “You can even get stucco,” the land-swindler played by Groucho Marx quipped in Cocoanuts. “Oh, how you can get stuck-oh!”
But it’s important to remember that Cape Coral’s hucksters and suckers were ultimately right. Cape Coral now has 200,000 residents. It’s got no colleges, tourist attractions, or major industries—its top employers are its government, hospital, and supermarkets—but not only is it still one of America’s fastest-growing cities, it’s projected to remain in the top five for decades to come. It’s a triumph of Lies That Came True, which was the title of a 1983 memoir by a Cape Coral pioneer, and could be the state motto.
For too long, too much of the Florida economy has been an ecological Ponzi scheme that depends on bringing in 1,000 new residents a day, including the mortgage brokers and drywall installers and landscapers whose livelihoods depend on bringing 1,000 more new residents the next day. There’s no culture of long-term planning or investing, no ethic of limits or responsibility or risk management. Florida has always been about now, mine, more.
So, yes, a lot of human greed and people being played for suckers, all presumably with little interference from government regulators. But, again, they’re exploiting something primordial: a desire to live near the water, preferably someplace warm.
One thing I’ve learned in my years of whining about Florida’s unsustainable trajectory in the climate era is that most Floridians don’t care. Some certainly do, including some ordinary citizens who get radicalized when their sparkling estuary gets overrun by foul-smelling guacamole glop or they can’t breathe at the beach. But most don’t, especially if they’re new to Florida, especially if they’re newly retired to Florida. They’re here to enjoy the warm weather in a state with no income tax, not to build a better tomorrow for future generations.
This makes the people sound petty and awful. And maybe they are. But maybe they’re just folks who worked hard for decades and are trying to have a little bit of the good life before they die.
I’m looking out my window right now at another beautiful sunny day in South Florida. I never really understood until I moved here that winter was optional. Some people don’t care for the heat and humidity, especially now that climate change is ratcheting up the heat, and it’s no fun to be in the path of a deadly hurricane. Usually, though, we’re not. Usually, it’s just nice. It’s certainly way nicer than Boston or Brooklyn, or Michigan or Minnesota, in the winter.
Yup. Now, I happen to enjoy a Boston or Chicago or Minneapolis in the winter. For a few days or so. But, yeah, I’d prefer something a little more tropical if I could transport my livelihood and all manner of other things that matter at this stage in my life there.
That’s why people keep coming, and it’s interesting to see where they’re going. America’s fastest-growing metro over the past decade was not Cape Coral but the Villages, the ultra-Republican retirement community in Central Florida. In 2016, nine of the 20 fastest-growing metros were in Florida, and eight of them voted for Donald Trump. That trend explains why Florida, long considered the ultimate swing state, is now a Republican state.
The day after DeSantis was first sworn into Congress in 2013, he voted against federal aid for the victims of Superstorm Sandy. Now he’s pushing for federal aid for the victims of Ian, which is a very Florida form of hypocrisy. And DeSantis has risen to national prominence behind a very Florida form of now-mine-more messaging, proclaiming this the “free state” of Florida, where you don’t have to worry about public-health scolds telling you to wear a mask or get a vaccine, or pointy-headed planners telling you where to build your house or when to water your lawn. He’s selling irresponsibility as a virtue. Worrying about consequences is for losers.
Alas, we’ve politicized our culture such that this makes these people bad people in the eyes of so many, including most of our commentariat. And, frankly, DeSantis actually is a rather bad person in that I’m pretty sure he knows better. But most people just want to be left the hell alone, retiring somewhere warm where they’re not going to have their nest egg taxed away. And they’re really bad at estimating probabilities.
Yes, sometimes the bill comes due. But it’s not clear to what extent the people of Florida, other than the storm’s immediate victims, will have to pay it. My insurer went bankrupt last month, one of six to go under in Florida this year, and the state took over my policy, as it surely did for thousands of Floridians who will now file claims. But the Republican leaders who have assumed for the past quarter-century that the feds will bail us out after the Big One were probably right. We’ve gotten too big to fail.
I don’t like that one bit: I get none of the sunshine and some of the liability for people’s bad choices. Then again, if you bought insurance and your insurance company goes belly up, I’m not sure the blame is on you.
I want to be clear: This is all bad, and Florida doesn’t have to be like this. I ended my Cape Coral story with a trip to Babcock Ranch, a new solar-powered, smart-growth, flood-protected community a half-hour inland that was conceived as Florida’s sustainable city of the future. I checked in with developer Syd Kitson after Babcock took a direct hit from Ian, and he had good news: “The power and internet never went off, no flooding and minimal damage,” Kitson wrote. “It’s everything you and I talked about several years ago.”
But the way things ought to be is not always the way things are. Sunshine, low taxes, and freedom from consequences can be a compelling vision, especially for the old and cold, and it’s working for Florida’s Republicans just as it worked for Cape Coral’s developers. The next wave of newcomers won’t let concerns about boil-water orders or insurance crises deter them. The Florida growth machine has outlasted a lot of killer storms, and it will outlast this one too. We ignored what was coming, and we’ll forget what came.
It would be nice if Cape Coral and the rest of the Gulf Coast could, to borrow a phrase from national Democrats, build back better. But nothing will stop it from building back.
To the extent that solar power and the like will fix the problem, we could certainly make federal rebuilding aid conditional on that. But I think the bigger problem is that they’re just too damned close to the ocean on land that wasn’t meant to support human beings.
I’ve probably been to Florida 15 or 20 times on business of one sort or another, all over the state. I simply don’t get the appeal. It’s a hot, humid, fetid place full of mosquitos and poverty. Every person of authority in the state, whether politician, preacher or businessman, seems to be a huckster, telling people anything they want to hear while picking their pockets, regardless of the eventual consequences.
I lived in the panhandle when I was 10, later, as an adult, I lived in Orlando and Sarasota. So, with the benefit of much more direct experience of Florida than @MarkedMan:, I can say with far greater authority, that Florida is a hot, humid, fetid place full of mosquitos and poverty. Every person of authority in the state, whether politician, preacher or businessman, seems to be a huckster, telling people anything they want to hear while picking their pockets, regardless of the eventual consequences.
Lived there when I was stationed at MacDill. Now that I am retiring I certainly understand the desire to not shovel snow, but the rest of the year is so bad I dont really want to live there. I really do like the change of seasons. On topic, this does seem like the common wing nut welfare problem we run into. They dont want to pay taxes but they are quite happy to accept, nay demand, federal money when they can. Federal insurance should not apply to most of those people. The state should bear the costs.
Do we have a way to track where FEMA spends its money? I am guessing it mostly goes to hurricane and tornado events, some flooding. Would bet that it largely goes to red states. Of course, as pointed out above, if there is a disaster in blue states we can count upon red state politicians to oppose support.
Back in my working days, I called on AutoNation and that brought me to Ft Lauderdale a couple of times per year. Hated going in the summer, but the other seasons, I’d schedule the meetings for Monday or Friday and make the weekend of it. Given that I like the beach town vibe, FL has some appeal, except for all the old folks, summer, the politics and lousy motorcycling. But we’ve done the risk-reward evaluation and dealing with winter isn’t so bad.
Except that they don’t. People who want “to be left the hell alone” know that being on your own to solve your problems goes with it. Most people don’t want to be just left the hell alone, they want the benefits of society without the having to get along with others and paying what society costs part.
Until it’s time to face the consequences of their selfish me me me myopia and refusal to pay taxes, at which point they come begging to those with the maturity and empathy to know that no man is an island and that community and shared sacrifice are essential.
Does Florida want ‘tobeleftthehellalone’ right now?
Hah. Who knew there were so many obnoxious, heartless, left-leaning social media warriors among Spanish explorers in the 1500s and U.S. soldiers in the 1800s?
If you are from the upper Midwest or upper New England I get the dream of escaping winter, and I actually like the coastal part of Florida that exists in the south if you peel back about twenty layers of development. What’s there, though, says that no human beings should be living there. Or, like with Palm Beach in the 20s, you have to sail there on your yacht or a take a train.
Also, there are so many places in America with McMansions and shopping megacenters and roads no one has ever walked across. Warm weather, nice water, and a sweet coastline work against anxiety. They are tangible goods. Whereas the appeals of sprawl–like good schools or the best commute possibility–come with a built-in anxiety of somewhere being just a better.
I live near Florida and have spent some time there over the last couple of decades. I can see the appeal in various ways (cheap and warm compared to the northeast, for example–certainly cheaper than SoCal, which is also a truly long way away if you are from the northeast). The beaches are lovely and there are a lot of them. Having said that, when I flirted with looking for another job, one of the places my wife immediately nixed was Florida (and I did not disagree). Still, there is no denying that a lot of people find it appealing, and I see no reason to suggest that they aren’t entitled to that view.
Still, I have lived in places with lots of regulations and planning and places without them and while planning and regulations can be costly and annoying, as noted in the quotes from the OP: the bill comes due at some point. And it is my experience, as a generic observation not intended to suggest optimal levels/specifics: planning and regulation are needed–and Florida’s problems seem pretty directly linked to a desire to have low-cost paradise without any thought towards to long-term and that is not, as noted, sustainable.
Indeed. But that means that society, and government, ought not pretend like there is a place where people can go with minimal cost to be left alone, because, in the long run, it won’t work out that way–not even for any specific group of retirees gambling that they won’t be affected.
Been to Florida once on the way back from visiting my brother and SIL in Virginia. Went to Disney World/Epcot* with a side trip to Cape Canaveral to see the astronaut stuff there. I saw the appeal of the area as a tourist attraction, though I suspect that I wouldn’t be attracted to the Glades. What I’ve never seen the appeal of is living in a tourist destination. It was the same problem I had with Gangnam in Korea–too many people crowded into too few destinations to make doing stuff there as a townie practical. Gangnam was where I caught the bus to go back home from, not a destination. Florida’s a little better from that standpoint. It was a nice destination–in March.
@Steven L. Taylor: “But that means that society, and government, ought not pretend like there is a place where people can go with minimal cost to be left alone, because, in the long run, it won’t work out that way…”
It will if we hold them to their word and leave them alone. Just sayin’…
No. That’s what people like to say because it sounds tough and independent. Florida is full of old people who literally need someone to wipe their asses daily. Left alone they’d die of starvation, sitting in their own shit in their badly-constructed condos.
Americans love the tough talk, the bluster, because they live in a society where one almost never has to walk the talk. The vast majority of people are weak, cowardly and to various degrees, incompetent but they all want to sound like Conan the Barbarian. Close to 50% of Americans are so weak, so cowardly, so mentally incompetent that they follow an orange-faced buffoon who is the perfect embodiment of their empty bluster and faux tough-guy bullshit.
When you deal with actual tough guys – firefighters, special forces – what’s the word most likely to come up? ‘Team.’ Real tough guys know they aren’t Rambo.
@Michael Reynolds: I agree that we all like to say we want to be left alone, but we not only don’t mean it, we don’t fully understand the implications. Truly alone people don’t have safe drinking water and easy access to liquor stores, restaurants, and grocery stores. (Oh, and the federal government if a hurricane wipes out their house).
And I say this with full self-awareness, having recently bought a house on 6 acres surrounded by farmland. On one level, I like to be left alone. But I am still 12 minutes from the nearest liquor store, restaurants, and grocery store (among other things).
And while we can debate how much collectiveness is needed to run a functional society, we have to have some it or else most of us perish pretty quickly (and certainly can’t enjoy the fruits of collective action).
@Steven L. Taylor:
Yeah, I think people confuse seamless convenience with being alone. There are backwoods people who shoot a deer or two and then freeze its meat. That’s being alone. There’s a guy in a house who has a chunk of venison delivered to his door by an online delivery service. That’s convenience. Politicians have taken the idea of convenience to create a taxpayer who wants to consume with paying for it.
Where do they get the electricity for their freezer?
@Michael Cain: Exactly.
The truly alone, living-off-the-land types are rare.
As I drive through the backroads of Alabama even the most rugged home has wires from the electrical grid coming to their home and almost certainly has a satellite dish in the yard,
It’s the closest we can get to crawling back into the sea and declaring this whole “evolving to live on land” thing a regrettable mistake.
Going beyond the comments above: I think most people don’t really grok the degree to which society is very much a collective action. And I especially think that people who think of themselves as “rugged individualists” or even those who think that the market can fix everything are utterly deluded.
Think of the freakout when Obama said “you didn’t build that.”
I can 100% see a conservative-minded retiree from Queens who worked hard their whole lives thinking that, in fact, they did build all of their wealth all by themselves and want to retire to low-tax, low-regulation Florida so that they can be “left alone.”
JJ: “But most people just want to be left the hell alone, retiring somewhere warm where they’re not going to have their nest egg taxed away. ”
Maybe I’m one of those awful judgmental lefties, but it seems to me that choosing to live only for your own pleasure and not caring at all about what it costs other people or what kind of damage you’re doing is pretty much a definition of one kind of “bad person.” Or have we decided that solipsism is now a virtue?
Sure, maybe they just want to be left alone. But is “what you want” really all that matters in matters of morality?
A generator? Solar cells? But yeah, most of the backwoods people are probably not doing that.
@Steven L. Taylor:
If you build a cabin, you are following others’ ideas about construction and you bought all of the nails and almost certainly purchased the wood cut at a lumberyard. But you still built a cabin, and Obama and society aren’t going to give you grief because you followed a plan created by somebody else. That would be nuts.
Unless you are dumb, you can’t believe that earning money all on your own is similar to building something with your own hands. And that creates anxiety. I.e. all of this people who want to be ‘left alone’ by government. That’s why so much it involves getting angry about other people knowing things about like education and science, and then challenging the bureaucrats who want to interfere with your life. The person who builds their own cabin and essentially asks for help is doing something very different.
Before anybody asks, we retired to FL because it made sense to retire near the kids and the kids moved to FL. FL didn’t worry me enough to question their decision. Also, it seemed karma. I was born in ND and have been drifting south and east ever since: MI, IL, TX, IA, IL again, MI again, IN, OH, and now FL. Absent family considerations I might have looked for a nice lakefront property within driving distance of real cities where snow is an occasional novelty.
Florida prospers and grows for the same reason coastal AL, MS, LA, and TX, NM, AZ, and southern CA do, air conditioning. From what I see AZ and NM may become uninhabitable before FL. Politically and socially, AL, MS, LA and TX are worse than FL. In response to the remove Putin post I’d say what Russia needs is to drop their BS and join the 21st century. The same could be said of several states. But are we really going to say a third of the country is not fit for habitation? Why pick on FL?
And we’ve liked FL. Yes it’s often hot and humid, but the response is the same as 20 below in Duluth, stay inside. And we have better beaches than Duluth. Fortuitously, in the wake of the hurricane the weather is beautiful, Comfortable sleeping until the A/C comes back, which FPL guesses will be the 8th. In the meantime the kids are waiting in line with empty gas cans at a station that says they have plenty.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Yes. Roads, airports, Social Security, Medicare, the 40 hour week, paid vacations, police and fire, hospitals, the post office, etc. are all baked in the cake. They have nothing to do with politics. I worked hard, I’m due what I get. There’s no conception that liberals provided most of those things and often had to fight, protest, lobby, and even die to get them.
The economy of FL depends on Social Security. It grinds on me that there’s no way to get all the people sitting in their “manufactured home” communities watching FOX to realize that the GOPs really would kill SS. Ah well, as long as they keep the government’s hands off my Medicare.
I guess my throwback stops at the “plains ape” thing. I adore living at 5,000 ft in a semi-arid climate.
Not intending to excuse any hypocrisy, neither leftist nor rightist, I would hasten to observe that capitalism is a system built around, and requiring the mutual respect for, voluntary, cooperative associations and private property, not involuntary redistributions disguised as “safety nets”.
Or maybe not.
@gVOR08: Alot of Florida hate from people who have eff all to do with Florida [shrugs].
Realistically, catastrophic storms here are not common. And frankly, how much habitable land in the US ISNT subject to natural disaster. That takes Cali and everything in the Mississippi flood planes as well as the Midwest tornado alleys out of play.
Humans must coexist with nature-period. What we have is a natural tension with city governments that want property tax revenues generated by waterfront property. That is the perverse incentive driving the last 40 years of development around the water here as in other risks areas in other states.
Really, the Florida hate here is a symptom on why Democrats can’t win a race for dog catcher here. I’ve been to almost every state of the commenters here. Trust me, I feel the same way about those places as you feel about here. They ain’t all rainbows and skittles. There isn’t a job I wouldn’t take to not live in Alabama. The weather is great 8 months out of the year and their is more outdoor activities that there is time to do them all. I love this state. But I also would do any stupid like live ON the water or at any elevator below 30’ thats gambling when not if. Other than that, if your not within 40miles of landfall of that Cat4/5 that hits every 4-5 years…you clean up the yard and make your minor repairs to keep it moving.
50 years ago no city would have been dumb enough to zone for building where they do now…but Boomers are dumb and money talks so we have the coast littered with structures build at less that 10 below sea-level.
I’m going to move to Duluth.
City, mind you, not outskirts. Big water, great views, a bracing climate, good college hockey.
To each their own.
@de stijl: Bracing. I’ve stood on the shore in Duluth at -20 with the wind off the lake. Bracing wasn’t a word I would have used.
But it does have it’s attractions. I have a nephew in Duluth and a niece and my sister-in-law just moved there. I’ll have to visit again soon, May at the earliest.
@Jim Brown 32: A lot of “Florida hate” expressed here is simply personal preference.
I despise heat, humidity, and bugs. I’m not a sit-on-the-beach person. Our dog is terrified of storms. Florida would not be a good fit for me–in fact, most if not all of what is considered “the South” wouldn’t work for us. For most of the time, I love living in New Hampshire. I get that isn’t right for everyone.
I do think it’s bad policy to continue to allow people to build in areas that get leveled (includes burned in wildfires, flattened by tornadoes, or blown over in a hurricane) and/or flooded every few years. It impacts everyone, through higher insurance rates, and higher taxes.
@Jim Brown 32:
Florida encapsulates a lot of the Republican ideology going back decades — the “Party of Personal Responsibility” for others, while desperately begging for a bailout to alleviate the easily foreseen consequences of their actions.
“Shit’s kind of fucked, dude, and it’s going to take a bit of sacrifice to get it on track,” is not a popular platform, so realistic Democrats have a fundamental disadvantage. No dude wants to hear that shits kind of fucked, and they really don’t want to make any sacrifice.
Same as Texas, by the way.
Just one thing in the OP caught my attention. While I am not one to say that the “good life” in retirement doesn’t involve some money, I seriously doubt that whether you pay income tax or not has ever made the difference in anyone’s life.
I mean, yeah, it can be a significant amount of money, but if it is, it means you made a significant amount of money that you’re keeping.
This is a scam that is so widespread in the financial industry. I’ve sat in meetings where some guy is pitching to me a substandard return that will probably persist for 20 years all based on the promise of “you won’t have to pay inheritance tax” (or really, my heirs won’t). Hating the IRS sells. It’s a classic con.
I really hate humidity. When it is stupid hot and humid I get cranky and annoyed. Duluth is the city where the dewpoint rarely rises above 60F even in full summer. Usually in the 40s or 50s. To me, heaven on earth. Yeah, winter sucks, but I have enough savings to hire folks to clear my sidewalk if need be.
If I’m too hot and sticky, I can’t get more naked than naked to ameliorate. If I’m chilly, I can always put more layers on.
I hate stupid hot. I can deal with stupid cold.
And the view is awesome!
As a former insurance regulator responsible for identifying at risk companies, I have to chime in on the sentiment that you aren’t responsible if your insurance company goes bankrupt. There’s a lot of ignorance of how insurance works baked into that sentiment.
Insurance in the US is regulated at the State level. Every State has a Dept of Insurance and each State has the ultimate legal responsibility to cover claims. Each State Dept of Insurance employs teams of financial analysts (my former job) to tear apart the quarterly and annual financial statements to assess the risk of insolvency within the next 24 months. A huge part of that is the ability to pay claims. States with a propensity to experience specific risks often also maintain a State fund that functions as an insurer of last resort for especially large events.
So insurance law exists 100% on the State level. Insurance company rates are set ar the State level (insurers must get rate approvals annually from the State Dept). The Commissioner is either directly elected or appointed by the Governor. The entire infrastructure exists at the pleasure of the officials elected by the voters of the State.
People that move to a State for the quality of its government and regulatory environment bear direct responsibility for the insurance market they live within.
@Jim Brown 32: Well I’ve visited Florida a lot and even lived there for a bit. I was mostly in the Orange city / Sanford area and frankly I agree with the commentators here. I went through multiple hurricanes and several tornadoes there despite not living there long or staying longer than a few weeks at a time prior.
The weather was generally awful the humidity sucked and the bugs were obnoxious. The beaches could be nice but generally failed to make up for the people and everything else you had to deal with. What always cracked me up was the daily storms during the summer where you could practically set your clock by…
Also, if your insurance company does go bankrupt, any legitimate claims in the current policy period still get paid by the State.
@Jim Brown 32:
And this whiny hypocrisy is a symptom of why Republicans lost the White House, Senate, and House in four years, and why their vaunted Red Wave is now a trickle.
Trump hatefully mocked a disabled reporter, hatefully tweeted a White Power video on 28 June 2020, hatefully let a deadly virus spread because it first killed urbanites. Most Floridians backed Trump’s hate.
Ron DeFascist hatefully sought to block Hurricane Sandy aid to blue states, hatefully smears gays as groomers, hatefully disenfranchises black voters, hatefully trashes teachers, hatefully erases black history and bans black books, hatefully retaliates against private companies like Disney for their free speech, and hatefully manipulated asylum-seekers for a cheap stunt. Most Florida voters approve.
But the moment it’s pointed out that Florida is facing the inevitable result of electing and enabling climate change denial, zero tax madness, and blind deregulation, all of a sudden the “f*** your feelings, snowflake” crowd starts crying about being victims of hate. Bullies never change.
Democrats aren’t doing as well in Florida rn because too many Florida voters today have been radicalized and propagandized. Most want to be lied to. Thankfully, not all.
It’s not Democrats’ fault modern conservatives keep exposing themselves as fake tough guys who can’t take what they dish, can’t defend ongoing GQP policy failures, can’t backup their phony me me me individualism-or-bust bluster when the chickens come home to roost.
@Jim Brown 32:Look, I don’t get what others see in Florida, but that doesn’t mean I think less of those who like it. I like all kinds of things others don’t like and vice versa, but since “liking things” isn’t a zero sum game it’s no skin off my nose.
If you don’t mind the question, how exactly does a state insurance regulator examine and make a judgement on an insurer’s holdings. Is there a process? Is it all accountancy?
@Jim Brown 32: FWIW, I do not have hate for Florida. I don’t want to live there because I have too much summer heat and humidity where I live now, so going further south does not appeal. I also prefer a less flat topography. Moreover, while I could see living on the coast, it is expensive and there is tropical weather to deal with.
In terms of weather, if I was just picking, I would prefer Tennessee’s weather: a bit more winter and bit less crazy heat. I also prefer mountains to coast, FWIW.
Really, most of the criticism in this thread comports with what you said:
@de stijl: I would describe it as “financial accounting on steroids.” Insurance Companies that are publicly traded create US GAAP based financial statements to be used by investors and creditors like any other publicly traded corporation.
But they also must create a second set of accounting records and filings using what is referred to as statutory accounting. They volume of information that they must disclose is enormous. The analyst next to me that did the analysis for The Hartford would receive a banker’s box full of their public filings tied to their annual report.
We had a checklist to go through every three months for each company that assessed risk using both standard financial statement analysis and insurance specific things like the composition of their investment portfolio and the diversity of their customer base.
There are also financial examiners and IT examiners that do site visits and assess the company’s adherence to financial regulations and the internal controls environment, and actuaries who analyze the suitability and adequacy of the reserves to pay expected claims.
Any one of the areas can refer a company to the team that handles the process of rehabbing at-risk insurers to keep them solvent and/or putting them into receivership (I shifted to full time teaching almost ten years ago and the exact name escapes me).
Do re-insurers get data that state regulators cannot access? Or is that just basket hedging?
Late in my career I did an 8 month gig for an Icelandic bank that went belly up later. They were utterly corrupt. I did not not know that then.
My job was to present information about existing accounts and the potential future to super smarty pants analysts. The presentation layer was not a big problem for me, done it dozens of times.
Their big brain analysts wanted more. I had to run a team to suss out out how they wanted to drill down beyond the layer initially presented.
They wanted drill-down results in seconds. So tons of instantiated views held in memory. Expensive stuff.
We had to instantiate multiple views and join them and index them appropriately. It was a glorious mess. Some of my worst work – poorly documented, haphazard, ad hoc, rushed. It was also super fucking cool! It got the job done.
Plus, I had a very nice free apartment downtown three blocks away from work.
I left on super good terms which I thought was bullshit. I built you a unsustainable process! It will break soon and hard! At least let me document it – let me stay for a week or so to document all the bullshit ways we fudged and finangled to provide the requisite data set. You don’t even need to pay me. This will help whoever you hire next. I need this!
18 months later the bank was dissolved by the Iceland government for fraud and corruption and it assumed all legitimate debts.
I was working for the bad guys because they paid me well. Mind blown!
@de stijl: I would assume that insurers provided us with exactly as much information as they were legally required to and nothing more.
@Steven L. Taylor: “Really, most of the criticism in this thread comports with what you said:”
Yes, but surely you understand if your criticism is not framed in exactly the words favored by our own professional Democrat Language Scolds then you are personally responsible for every vote cast for a Republican.