subsidies

Gilbert M. Gaul has twice won the Pulitzer Prize and has been shortlisted for the Pulitzer four other times. For more than thirty-five years, he worked as an investigative journalist for The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and other newspapers. He has reported on non-profit organizations, the business of college sports, homeland security, the black market for prescription drugs, and problems in the Medicare program.

In his new book "The Geography of Risk: Epic Storms, Rising Seas, and the Cost of America's Coasts," Gaul considers this: Five of the most expensive hurricanes in history have made landfall since 2005: Katrina ($160 billion), Ike ($40 billion), Sandy ($72 billion), Harvey ($125 billion), and Maria ($90 billion). With more property than ever in harm’s way, and the planet and oceans warming dangerously, it won’t be long before we see a $250 billion hurricane.

Why?

Because Americans have built $3 trillion worth of property in some of the riskiest places on earth: barrier islands and coastal floodplains. And they have been encouraged to do so by what Gaul reveals to be a confounding array of federal subsidies, tax breaks, low-interest loans, grants, and government flood insurance that shift the risk of life at the beach from private investors to public taxpayers, radically distorting common notions of risk.

401(K) 2013/Creative Commons

A national, nonprofit consumer health organization is calling October 1 a milestone, when more than 2.4 million New Yorkers may enroll in health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Two congressional representatives say many are probably unaware of the financial help available.