Floridians Fight a war on Two Fronts, Against Hurricanes and the Hypocrite Bush
A movement to reverse the capitalist offensive against the people of Florida can be built in the aftermath of hurricane season.
By Sean O'Torain
Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992. The cost of the clean up was $22 billion. The insurance corporations screamed about their profits and threatened to pull out of the state. If there had been any kind of fighting mobilized working class movement this blackmail could have been opposed. But none existed because the labor leaders are all tied into the system and part of this includes kissing the Democrats' boots. So instead of the insurance corporations being taken on, Bush senior who was President at the time and, following him, Bill Clinton, collaborated with their buddies in the insurance companies to rewrite the insurance laws and restructure the insurance industry throughout the 1990's.
There was of course no question of them rewriting the laws to increase protection for the working people of the state. You would need to be an idiot to even begin to think this could have happened. After all these two presidents represented the two parties of US big business and their corrupt capitalist system. The fact that the Bush family are long time members of the corporate class and Clinton is somewhat of a newcomer made no fundamental difference. They both did their jobs and rewrote the laws to increase the profits of the insurance companies. They did this by a combination of increasing the involvement of the state government in hurricane costs, reducing the exposure of the private insurance underwriters and increasing the liability of homeowners.
The Financial Times had in an article on August 19th referring to the affect of these changes in the law in relation to the two more recent hurricanes Charley and Frances. "Battered homeowners will now see much less of their loss covered. Tens of thousands of people seeking to rebuild their homes will be looking to the federal government for assistance." The article also explained that on top of these law changes, the insurance industry itself had introduced a 2% deductible. The Financial Times estimated that the combination of these changes would save the private sector insurance companies anything from $10billion to $14billion in coverage this time compared to what they would have had to pay if Bush, Clinton and the Democrats and Republicans had not helped them change the laws.
Everybody knows that the corporations and their corrupt capitalist system have no greater friend than the Wall Street Journal. But even this newspaper has been shamed into saying in its September 7th issue that what has gone on in Florida "raises the question of whether the changes have been too generous to the insurers". They are prepared to admit in the pages of the Wall Street Journal and other business publications that workers don't normally read that people are, " discovering the full effects of a decade of maneuvering by insurance companies and state officials that has dramatically reduced the obligations of private insurers to pay for the impact of catastrophic storms".
The changes and maneuvers it refers to allow the insurance companies to get up to all sorts of rackets. For example, insurance companies that are based nationwide have been allowed to set up "Florida only" based companies which they can put into bankruptcy if they are losing money in that state and meanwhile they can leave the rest of their company untouched. All kinds of state supported back up funds that is underwritten by taxpayers have been set up to bail out the insurance corporations. These hypocrites believe in the market only as long as they are making money. And on top of this, two of the three- person body that is responsible for regulating the insurance industry in the state are selected by the insurance industry itself.
Think about this. The insurance corporations select two out of three, that is a majority, of the board that regulates them. This board is presented as if it oversees the insurance industry on behalf of the population of Florida. This is a dirty lie propagated by the corporations, their parties and mass media. Imagine the Bushes and the Clintons and their corporate class agreeing to people on welfare selecting the majority of the Department of Welfare. Or imagine the labor department having a majority on it from working people, or the environmental agency having a majority on it selected by environmentalists, or the department of education having a majority on these boards selected by the parents, teaches and students. Any effort to move in this direction would be met with all out opposition from the corporations and their corrupt capitalist system. But it is all right for the insurance corporations. The way this country is run is rotten. It is corrupt. The corporations and the rich get away with murder.
When hurricanes Charley and Frances hit Florida in recent weeks the present member of the Bush gangsters who is in the Whitehouse sped to Florida to rush round with his brother Jeb, the governor of the state, hugging people and posing for the cameras and handing out a few bags of ice. What a dirty hypocrite. Meanwhile, millions of people have been paying increased payments and are faced with wrecked homes and with no or reduced payments coming to them. And this is because of the policies of his father and Clinton. Bush and the class he represents are the scum of the earth. They will do anything to make sure the power and profits of their system are secured.
In the early 90's, the capitalists in the insurance companies were handed a $22bn clean up bill after hurricane Andrew hit Florida. They determined that they would not allow this to happen again and, through their political representatives in the Democratic and Republican Parties, changed the laws of the state of Florida in order to shift this cost on to Florida homeowners, the victims. Presently, hundreds of thousands of Floridians are actively in the streets and communities working to put their lives back together. This collective activity should include mass collective discussion in an effort to draw conclusions about why the way the state and country is run does not represent working and middle class people. Such a discussion would point to the same conclusions the insurance billionaires did in 1992 but from the opposite class point of view. In 1992 the capitalists in the insurance corporations concluded they would get the laws changed so they would not pay for the costs of future hurricanes. This time working and middle class people should conclude that they should not pay for the cost of future hurricanes.
The insurance corporations can be taken out of the profit-addicted system that is fleecing the working and middle class people of Florida. This can also be done with the banks. A huge finance sector controlled by democratically elected working class and middle class people of the state can be created. This can be used for developing the state in all ways, including the rebuilding necessary following natural disasters. This finance sector would not be determined by the profit motive but by the needs of the people of the state. This cannot be done by the Democrats and Republicans the parties that represent the corporations and their corrupt capitalist system. Working people in Florida are now trying to recover from the hurricanes and are working together as never before. Part of this process should be to take this process forward and build democratically elected block, neighborhood, city and statewide committees of working class people. These can form the basis for a working class political party in the state. And in turn they can take the life of the state out of the hands of the insurance companies and the banks and the major corporations and their stooge politicians.