The U.S. Congress on Friday approved a $9.7 billion increase in flood insurance funds meant to aid those affected by Hurricane Sandy. The bill, unlike the one that the House refused to vote on, contains no pork and thus was acceptable to most Republicans. While the passage of a “Sandy aid bill” sounds great on paper, the ethical arguments against this bill make it unworthy for passage.
Something that many Republicans and Democrats fail to understand is that when money is spent by the government, it is taken from someone else. In this case, the government is taking $9.7 billion (with interest) from future generations who will pay for this expenditure in the form of higher taxes.
Generally, people hold that it is immoral to take money from any one person, even if the end result is giving it to another. Pretend that while you and I were walking down the street, we saw a homeless person. Without your consent, I reach into your pocket and give him your wallet. If this were to happen, you would certainly tell me that I had committed an immoral act. The same act is being committed when our government takes money from future generations without their consent to give it to those affected by Sandy. This forced payment restricts the future’s freedom to spend their money as they wish and this restriction of freedom is wholly immoral.
Another moral argument against this bill is that it incentivizes risky living habits. The people hurt by Sandy lived in an area where hurricanes are relatively frequent. By paying for the results of their risky choice, the government is decreasing the risk of living in such areas which incentivizes a greater number of people to live in these areas. When more people live in these areas, more people are affected by future hurricanes that will inevitably hit the region once again. The government is creating future-victims and incentivizing risk, two things that are undoubtedly immoral.
The government could decrease the number of hurricane victims if it didn’t provide incentive to live in hurricane-prone regions. If this were the case, people would likely move away from areas that are oftentimes affected by natural disasters and thus, there would be a lesser number of victims in the future. With people living in safer and less risky communities, more money could be spent on building, instead of re-building our world.
I understand that thousands of people lost their homes and livelihoods when Sandy came unexpectedly, but this tragedy does not justify the aforementioned immorality. Instead, people who want to help Sandy victims should do so in more ethical ways: instead of forcing future generations to pay for present misfortune, it should be paid for voluntarily. If the American people truly want to help Sandy victims, and don’t mind incentivizing risk, there are plenty of charities helping victims in the region. A good friend of mine even paid for a U-Haul truck, and then drove up to New Jersey with food and blanket donations from his community. This voluntary action erases the immorality that comes with forcing others to pay.
Congress is set to vote on another Sandy aid bill that will take an additional $51 billion from future generations and give it to the victims of Sandy. I urge you to tell your members of congress that you will not support such immoral acts.