Thursday, 1 November 2012

Reflections on Sandy



Let's Give Three Cheers....

Today, for the first time in nearly a week, the sun is shining here in central New Jersey.

"Sandy" is gone; the buzz of saws cutting felled trees surrounds.  Everywhere, water is receding, things are drying, and we're slowly returning to normal.

Our family was blessed - aside from a couple of decorative trees in our yard that succumbed, and the nuisance of power loss for a day or so - we came through relatively unscathed.  No one hurt.  No property destroyed.  Not a drop of water in the basement to be seen.

Others were not so fortunate.

It's of course an election year, so our country has spent the better part of a year arguing about one per cent, 47 per cent, big government, responsibility.  

Personally, I've been a big critic of the Democratic party model - high taxes; support of entrenched public unions; big government.  I remain firm that the model offered by the president and his party is the wrong one, fundamentally.

But I'm not, and never have been, in the camp that says that the "private sector" does everything better than the public one.  I like to consider myself a pragmatist, sceptical about the centralisation of power, but open to arguments and empirical evidence.

The hurricane that has destroyed large parts of my state I think illustrates pretty well that there is a legitimate role for our federal government, and that there are just some things that are too big, too complex, to be left to the states or the private sector.

Sometimes, "big government" may be the right answer.

I also think it's worth taking a second to acknowledge and say "thank you" for public and private sector workers who set aside their own interests and families to take care of the rest of us.  

All Monday evening, as the storm hammered our town, I could see out my window flashing red and blue lights - police officers and firemen (in our town, a volunteer fire department made of residents from various walks of life).  

These people all have families.  They all have homes.  They were out in harm's way, not at home with their loved ones to steady the home front; out there to help keep us safe.  Police, especially, take a lot of criticism, and seldom get the thanks they deserve for a difficult, necessary job.  When you're in real trouble, and you ring 9-11, you don't get Kim Kardashian or Kanye West or any other intellectual flat-liner to come.  

You get a man in a blue uniform whose function in life is to serve and protect - not to amuse.

Police are government workers.

Tuesday morning, crews were out working in the continuing wind and rain to restore power and other infrastructure.  They were in the elements, not at home fixing their own homes or pumping water out of their own basements.  They were not with their families to calm frightened children.

These folks work for the "evil" power companies who make our modern lives and comforts possible.

Today is the first of November, and my property taxes are due.  These are assuredly *not* low, and I would love to have more of our money remain in our bank and not in government coffers.  But we pay taxes for a reason. 

We will rebuild.  We will recover.  

This is because we look out for each other, sure.  We all stand together.  But it's also due to the dedication of people we largely don't think about most days, or worse, complain about on others.

Thanks, guys.  We'll leave the light on tonight for you.


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