Mytheos Holt

In the recent Hammer Horror film The Woman in Black, lawyer Arthur Kipps (played by erstwhile Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe) undertakes the project of sorting through the possessions of a deceased woman at her late home, Eel Marsh House. The house is a dilapidated wreck, which is only accessible at some times of day because the road to it is flooded the rest of the time. To make things worse, it is haunted by an infanticidal ghost (the titular woman). Needless to say, after a few disturbing encounters with the latter entity, Kipps tries to escape.

However, faced with the incentives created by America's flood insurance program, one suspects that Kipps would have taken his chances with the ghost. Certainly, many Americans do, despite being faced with dangers far more evident and far less selective about their victims than a fictional spectre. This is their right. What is not their right is to inflict taxpayers with their tolerance for risk that ought to be intolerable. And whether such homeowners realize it or not, that is precisely what the National Flood Insurance Program does in its present form.

Fortunately, as of last year, the federal government decided to make a small attempt to rescue fiscal responsibility from its watery grave, and passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. This bill made some small, but positive steps toward stemming the deluge of taxpayer money that NFIP sprays out. Most notably, it phased out subsidies that were keeping the expenses of flood insurance substantially below market rates. However, due to political pressure, there is a real danger that these positive steps might be gutted, in the disingenuous name of "compassion."

Unfortunately, as conservatives know, in Washington, "compassion" is often indistinguishable from myopia, and bleeding hearts are often simply wet behind the ears. So let's set the record straight: There is nothing compassionate about rolling back flood insurance reforms. It is a regressive policy that puts not only taxpayers at risk, but families and communities as well, and does so via excessive government control. All of these are problems that conservatives should want solved with more urgency than anyone else.

Mytheos Holt

Mytheos Holt is an Associate Policy Analyst with the R Street Institute