(Foundation for Economic Education) From Portland to Chicago to Kenosha, rioters have smashed windows, lit fires, attacked government properties, assaulted people in the streets, and looted storefronts.
In Minneapolis alone, vandals have destroyed at least 1,500 properties, many of them minority-owned businesses, and caused billions of dollars in property damage. Many people have been injured or killed during the chaos.
Thankfully, Americans overwhelmingly reject this violence and destruction. A recent Gallup poll found that 73 percent of the public thinks violent protest does more harm for black Americans than good. This includes clear majorities of both white and black respondents. And only 8 percent of Americans overall thought violent protest was justified.
However, many supporters have attempted to downplay, defend, and even support rioting. A common argument is that looting is no big deal because businesses “have insurance” that will reimburse the costs of the destruction.
For example, there’s Vicky Osterweil, author of the book In Defense of Looting. In a recent softball interview with NPR, she argued that looting is “basically nonviolent” because “most stores are insured; it’s just hurting insurance companies on some level. It’s just money. It’s just property. It’s not actually hurting any people.”
Similarly, Black Lives Matter activist Ariel Atkins has argued that looting is a form of “reparations.” She says it isn’t actually harmful, “because these businesses have insurance. They’re going to get their money back.”
BLM Chicago Leader on the looting of stores: "That is reparations…. anything they want to take, take it because these businesses have insurance…" pic.twitter.com/uB9GAGmkLu— ForAmerica (@ForAmerica) August 11, 2020
These arguments rest on weak factual and logical footing. As the Washington Examiner’s Beckett Adams wryly noted, “It takes a toxic cocktail of ignorance and privilege to look at the smoldering ruins of a family-owned business and shrug it off with some quip about how an insurance company will no doubt fix it.”
Here are four reasons why the excuse that “businesses have insurance” doesn’t mitigate the harm of rioting.
1. Riots Take a Human Toll No Insurance Plan Can Account For
Elderly man defending store during Kenosha riots has jaw broken https://t.co/HUHKBpCiug pic.twitter.com/wA85Vvg3Gm— New York Post (@nypost) August 27, 2020
2. Not All Affected Small Businesses Have Insurance That Covers Rioting and Looting Damage
3. Insurance Doesn’t Solve the Problem
4. Insurance Rates Will Spike and Hurt the Impacted Communities’ Economic Future