Monday, June 19, 2006

The Ultimate Insurance Policy

There is almost nothing I hate forking over my hard earned cash for than insurance premiums. It seems like such a racket, and it is. Insurance companies make piles and piles of cash. Even after devastating natural disasters when their outlays are messured in the billions of dollars they find a way of shoveling more money on those aforementioned piles. In fact, man-made disasters like the stock market crash of 2000-01 didn't slow them down a bit - they simply raised everyone's premiums to cover their poor investment decisions.

However, when there is an auto accident or hail destroys the roof of your house it is the insurance company that gets us over the hump. Rarely (ha, never) do I a couple thousand dollars laying around to cover the cost of a new quarter panel for the Lincoln Town Car I just rammed.

Insurance as a concept is brilliant, actually. By spreading out the costs over multitudes of payers the economic impact on any one individual claimant does not have to be personally or systemically devastating. But what about society as a whole? We live in an era in which we are so dependent on this societal machine to deliver our food, water and energy that any major disruption could be potentially disasterous.

The doomers in our midst (most hard core leftists) play the chicken little card so often that most of us just tune them out. We have good reason to dimiss them with a rolling of the eyes and a pat on their pathetic little heads while cooing a soft "there, there". They are almost always wrong. Why, just in the last few years we have seen massive disasters that have barely registered a blip on the day to day lives of those not directly involved. Sure the attacks of 9/11 have had wide ranging impacts on our country and the greater Middle East where the perpetrators originated from, but the daily routines of 99% of us has not been affected. Hurricane Katrina, the earthquakes in Iran, and Pakistan, the tsunami of '04, droughts and floods worldwide, the effects of the oil price shocks have not devastated the daily routines of most of the inhabitants of this planet. The doomers were wrong about the population bomb and mass starvation. They were wrong about Saddam Hussein's "nuclear winter" when he set fire to the Kuwaiti oil fields. They are proving to be wrong about George W. Bush as the anti-christ and they will be proven wrong on the disasterous effects of global warming.

What if, God forbid, a comet lands a direct hit on Earth, or a rouge state successfully detonates an EMP producing nuclear weapon (read Birdblog's essay on EMP) over North America or Europe? Unlike Katrina or 9/11 affecting the Gulf Coast or NewYork City these disasters would affect nearly everyone. Disruptions in food and water production and delivery would be felt almost immediately. If it happened to be winter in the northern hemisphere we would be unable to heat our homes. Needless to say our society would most likely crumble in the short term. In the case of a space born disaster like the comet strike the whole world would be plunged into chaos.

I am convinced that humanity would survive because unlike the dinosaurs and the millions of other species that have come and gone on this miraculous planet we have the ability to devise a concept as brilliant as insurance.

We have a written history and millions of librarys, museums and archives that would allow mankind to pick up the pieces and begin to rebuild the world. Thanks to some very forward thinking people there will be a resopsitory of seeds stashed in a very safe place so food production could resume.

I read with great interest an article in the Washington Post last week about the ultimate insurance policy: on the barren Norwegian outpost of Svalbard, the prime ministers of five nations and a small throng of other officials will lay the cornerstone for what will be, in effect, the Fort Knox of seeds.

While I have never heard of a Seed Bank before apparently some forward thinking people have. The concept is not new as I learned there are large national seed banks in many nations including the United States and China. This new facility will be for the benefit of all mankind. Currently 200 nations are on board, the US Senate has yet to ratify the treaty the Bush Adminstration signed, and the facility is slated to be running by 2007.

Perhaps the world should also consider building a facility up on the top of the world to house the equilvalent of the "world's Library of Congress" as well. Face it, what good are all those seeds if you don't know how to build a tractor and a plow???



Brandon_T_Stanley said...

A comet strike might just thin out the population. I think we might be able to catch it anyway. With the best minds on earth given a common purpose we never know how far they could go. It would be like a war but without the negative consequences associated with that activity.

As far as getting hit with EMP or a nuke, it might actually teach some Americans some valuable lessons about the need for a robust and agressive forreign policy

Timothy Birdnow said...

I never DREAMED I`d be so entertained by an article discussing insurance! You are brilliant, Craig!