We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
If you adopt the position that government is God - that government can do everything, can fix everything, can and should make everything in life nice for everybody (which is even far beyond what God does), then naturally government failed to provide perfect safety from hurricane/Nor'easter Sandy.
Also, this one: Devastated Rockaways residents lash out at Bloomberg during unannounced visit. Excuse me, but the Rockaways do sometimes rock away. They are barrier islands, like Cape Hatteras. What do people expect? Barrier islands are just temporary sandbars. Like flood plains, one should try to live there at one's own peril. People should know a little geography. Heck, Long Island itself is just a temporary large barrier island, made of glacial sand from the recent ice age.
Without wanting to sound heartless because the suffering of others is painful to all regardless of the cause, there must be a point at which people are responsible for their own welfare. Has government created an illusion of safety from the hazards of life and the hazards of poor choices? If so, government has done a grave disservice to people. Here's what government did do:
- They have long marked out built-up areas labeled as "Flood Zone A." That includes beach areas, filled-in old coastal marshlands, and barrier beaches. That means that, if you want to live there, you will get flooded and have been flooded historically. Maybe governments should make you sign a piece of paper saying "I understand that I elect to live here in some danger and at my own personal and property risk." Not a great idea to live in flood zones, but if you want to be there you should expect it. In fact, if you live there, you likely are required to own federally-subsidized (big mistake there) flood insurance. People should never have been permitted to build in such places on the taxpayer's nickel, but it happened long ago and has a history of multiple wipe-outs over the past 300 years. I am in favor of free-market flood insurance only.
- Days before Sandy hit land in NJ, Mayor Bloomberg ordered mandatory evacutation of Zone A. No, they cannot force you to leave. This is America. It is a legal misdemeanor not to leave, however.
- For days, radio and TV warned about an especially high storm surge in flood zones due to the full moon and reinforced the evacuation order. They had tons of shelters for those with nowhere to go.
- Local police and fire departments went around all Zone A neighborhoods (Zone A pop. 300,000 on Staten Island alone) with loudspeakers sending out warnings on Sunday and Monday before the storm.
This reminds me of the old church story: The Mississippi is rising, the levee has a hole in it, and the guy looks out his first story window and hears police warnings to flee for higher ground. He prays "God, I have no fear because I know you will rescue me from this flood." A little later, he's had to move to the second floor and again asks God for help. Some guys in a canoe paddle by, but he lets them go while waiting for God. Finally, he's on the roof praying, and a helo goes overhead offering to drop a radio so he can call for help. He waves them off, trusting in the Lord. Yes, he drowns.
OK, I'll add the punchline: The man asks God why he let him drown and God answers "I sent the police, a canoe, and a helicopter. What more were you expecting from me?"
New York's Zone A is only fit for duck hunting shacks and disposable beach shacks. In 1860, that's all there were there. Then came fancier summer beach shacks, then, over the years, marsh-filling and winterized beach houses, then permanent dwellers.
Never should have happened but people did what they wanted to do.
It seems it all boils down to an attitude that we, rather than God (an issue I struggle with daily), can control our lives. As a society we seem to think if we just pass enough rules, enough laws, we can keep bad things from happening. Rules and laws are simply not enough, because we seem to think we're in charge when we're not.
At work, if we make decisions we're not empowered to make, we usually get rapid and clear feedback. God's giving us feedback; we have to accept it.
On the other hand, government, politicians and bureaucrats, like to parade around like they are god, can do everything and have a right to lord over people. So a little comeuppance when they fail is a good thing. They sale the snake oil and yes, the people drink the snake oil, but they shouldn't get a pass when the snake oil bites them in the backside.
Those impacted by Sandy live in government as god part of the country. They've learned an important lesson. Government will always fail in a crisis. Government should be small. Government should be limited to those necessary community services best routinely provided by a common provider. Government should never be allowed to expand into nanny territory or be permitted to treat people as children. And in the end, the much maligned churches and civic organizations are the ones best suited to fill the breach in a crisis because they are made up of volunteers who leave their normal work to lend a hand.
Never trust in the government for in extremis it will abandon you and raise your taxes for the favor. Government is to be tolerated to the minimum extent, not worshiped.