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Fire and Its Enablers

if we continue to pay for it, they'll continue to rebuild

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, November 03, 1993.

As if to serve as an illustrative example, the fires in California underscore the problems faced by those willing to change the health care system. Huh? You say. It’s really a simple syllogism. As the fat, obnoxious insurance industry stalls and misleads over health insurance, the insurance company trust will suck us dry paying for the houses in California. And believe me, we'll be rebuilding those status-ridden fire traps on behalf of those over-tanned social climbers by the end of this month.

People are asking why homeowners would build in a known fire tunnel and build there in dry wood and tinder motifs. Simple, fire burns it, they'll get a new house at little cost. Sure, television will feature teary children who watched their beloved Barney burn, and hey, who wouldn't pay for that. But isn't it suspicious that all those people with wrists stapled to the forehead are remarkably calm and relatively dry-eyed and insistent upon building there again? You see, FEMA will pay for everything private insurance won't. And we all pay for FEMA.

If you want to solve the problem, declare the areas subject to the Santa Anna winds restricted areas: no residences can be built without complete private fire insurance. Insurance companies would inflate their rates beyond what most would pay, and the land would revert.

I mean, more tax money will go to pay for the restoration of affluent fire traps round Malibu and Laguna Beach than went to rebuild inner LA, so what sort of system is that to self-regulate itself in health insurance? This would be a true hilarity.

Look. Fire scares me like anyone. The thought of horses burning in their corrals or people caught in actual fire storms breaks sweat on my brow. But for 15 years, no effort had been made to clear brush in those fire areas. People build their dry wood homes in wind tunnels and fire lanes. They plant waxy leaved foliage around the house. If this were an episode of Bevis and Butthead, the nation would be insistent that MTV review its house building policy. But here, driven by status and social ascension, they already plan to rebuild the exact same monuments to their income. And all our insurance rates will rise to pay for it. Which is OK... God forbid our insurance should go up to pay for inner city homes or inner city hearts.

The fires are a terrible tragedy, but they were utterly preventable and totally predicted. It would be a shame if this foolishness was rewarded and the same structures arise from the ashes. For those of us who knew and loved Malibu, Laguna Beach, and those wrinkled canyons around LA, the sight of flames 120 feet in the night sky is both horrifying and awesome. Let’s hope we never see it again.