The Southern California fire disaster has revealed another benefit of being rich: better protection against fires!
Insurance company AIG has a private client group, an elite program offered only to homeowners with properties valued at $1 million or more. During the firestorm, the company arranged private firefighters to come and protect the homes of its richest clients, one of whom said:
"Just picture it," said Moore, whose house was sprayed by Firebreak early Monday. "Here you are in that raging wildfire. Smoke everywhere. Flames everywhere. Plumes of smoke coming up over the hills. Here's a couple guys showing up in what looks like a firetruck who are experts trained in fighting wildfire and they're there specifically to protect your home. . . . It was really, really comforting."
No one's faulting homeowners for wanting to save their houses from fire, but is this a dangerous trend of preferential treatment for wealthy people in cases of emergencies?
"What we have is a dangerous confluence of events: underfunded states, increasingly inefficient disaster response, a loss of faith in the public sphere . . . and a growing part of the economy that sees disaster as a promising new market," said Naomi Klein, whose new book, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism," looks at, among other things, the response to Hurricane Katrina.
Klein said AIG offers a glimpse into the future of what she calls "disaster apartheid," in which the affluent are better equipped for emergencies.
"You can't fault businesses for seeing an opportunity, and you can't fault individuals for wanting to protect their property. Pretty much anyone who could afford it would want it," she said. "But survival shouldn't be a luxury item."
LA Times has a really interesting report on a "concierge-level" fire protection for the rich: Link (Photo: Don Bartletti / LA Times)