One of the big recent changes in American life is the ongoing mass-migration from the middle of the country to the coasts, especially those of the Southeastern and Gulf States. Florida and the Carolinas, along with Houston and surrounding Texas counties, have gained millions of new residents seeking to trade snow and monotony for sun and water. Coastal state governments have by-and-large encouraged this immigration and the resulting construction, paving, and deforestation because new residents pay taxes and developers contribute to political campaigns.

This is turning out to be a huge, perhaps insanely expensive mistake, similar in a lot of ways to out-of-control public pensions: A short-term benefit that produces long-term costs – i.e., an unfunded liability – which accumulates more-or-less secretly until something happens to turn an accounting issue into a cash flow nightmare.

Consider Houston. Over the past few decades hundreds of thousands of people have moved in, and developers have accommodated them by paving over much of the land that used to absorb floodwaters during storms. When hurricane Harvey hit in 2017, the city found itself underwater for days, with damages totaling $125 billion. Much of this was covered by tax payers via federal flood insurance.

Now fast forward to today’s North and South Carolina, also very popular destinations for Americans from colder climes, and the scene of rapid construction of homes, hotels and stores within a few miles of the ocean. In the following article, the New York Times lays out the downside of this kind of short-sighted public policy