Think we don’t need any government? Oops!
What I find hilarious is that while we all heard on the news how terrible things were in Atlanta — people stranded all night in their snowed-in cars, students forced to sleep on the gym floor at their schools or on school buses because they could not get picked up, babies being born on the side of the highway because pregnant mothers couldn’t get to a hospital, mass chaos on the order of an apocalypse — the reality is that Atlanta got a freaking two inches of snow. That’s right, two inches. Now that’s a state of emergency! Kudos to those rugged individualists who don’t need a nanny state.
Maybe next time they won’t ignore those pesky governmental weather forecasters and will actually prepare for bad weather.
Meanwhile, remember the Texas school board? The people who approved teaching students that the words “separation of church and state” do not exist in our constitution? And who eliminated any mention of climate change from science classes (you know, the thing that is causing all this freakish bad weather)? Well, good news. The board has approved new rules that will help reduce the influence of politics and religion on our public schools. I for one applaud this move to stop trying to make our young people stupid.
I have a tax client who moved to Alabama. So I went to the Alabama web site. 1) there are only whites in Alabama. 2) they have almost no taxes. So I, too, think of the low taxes in the south. I, on the other hand, live in a high tax state (1st or second in the country). I pay the high taxes. We are coddled. I get what I pay for in a big way. I will not move from this state because I like our taxes.
Ebdoug, People in the south like to brag about the low taxes, TN for instance has no income tax in regard to working poor but they ignore that they get socked by the nearly ten percent sales tax and an ever increasing property tax. Another gripe I have is how the money here is spent. The news of misappropriations of county money are becoming commonplace and it is a drop in the bucket compared of all that doesn’t make the light of day. The local national guard came up short in supplies to the tune of over a million dollars, a record for national guards in the Southeast. It has never made the news and the guard has even blamed the new stock clerk who exposed the shortage. Corruption is a way of life in the South, a hand me down attitude stemming from the days of dodging the Revenuers. The poor educational systems aren’t helping the situation. It will take more than a few snow days to awake the populace of the problems of “strangling the government”.
I live in North Carolina and I would love to pay higher state tax, like Ebdoug, for better services. We’ve got a lot of problems including corruption but I gotta say that moving to NC after a decade in Rhode Island felt like a breath of fresh air. In RI, it wasn’t just government that was corrupt – everybody was cheating. I couldn’t believe the indifference towards cheating, from kids sports to academics to shoplifting to the ubiquitous “cash discount” and tax cheating. People were quite open about it. There were almost as many Florida license plates as RI plates because people would register their cars in Florida during vacation.
That said, I believe the South deserves the criticism it gets. Northern states shouldn’t get too smug though.
I’m really glad you decided to stick around. I check for new posts every day.
I live in Atlanta, though I’m so liberal I’m surprised they haven’t kicked me out yet. That notwithstanding, while I agree with the rugged individualists and tax comments and such, it’s the wrong battle.
The choice wasn’t that of individuals, it was businesses, schools, governments carrying on as usual and then releasing everyone at once, at 1 pm last Tuesday. Almost everyone in downtown Atlanta and the metro area got dumped onto streets and highways that couldn’t have carried the load without the snow (and the ice – the snow very quickly turned to ice.)
The problem was stupid government. We have an emergency management agency. Those in charge ignored the weather warnings late Monday night/very early Tuesday morning. The governor, a republican, didn’t realize the danger. Neither did the mayor of Atlanta, a democrat. The highways that cut through the city are all state-maintained. Atlanta proper, the actual city, has about a half-million people. The other roughly six million in the metro area are under a hodgepodge of city and county governments, somewhere around 25 or so of them.
Basically NONE of them dealt with the problem until it was too late. So, government failed. And schools, which are controlled by many individual boards of Ed., and private businesses.
The snow itself turned to sheets of ice very quickly. Essentially nobody down here has snow tires or chains because it doesn’t snow, except every few years. Most people don’t know how to drive in the snow because it’s so rare. 2″ of snow is nothing much if you’re used to it, but when it’s that rare an occurrence it’s a really big deal.
So in 2011 we had a huge ice storm that shut down the city for about four days. After that the city proper actually purchased some snowplows and salt trucks and such and made plans, as did the state. They just deployed them too late. The governor and mayor were at a ceremony honoring the mayor Tuesday Morning, and the head of the GEMA must have had that stuck stuck somewhere, because they did some prep work but nothing like what they should have been doing.
So all the rugged individualists I know who got stuck in traffic (people going to work responsibly, kids going to school, carrying on like they were supposed to) were actually following the rules. Showing up for work. Showing up for school. Keeping their commitments.
Then they were all told to go home at once. In the snow. On icy untreated roads, jammed with other people stuck in the same situation. Unprepared for something that almost never happens.
I make pretty serious fun of the South, the religious fanatics, the toothless ignorant rednecks. In this case making fun of all the helpless people trapped in a terrible situation is akin to blaming the people of Ft. Lee for being stuck in bridge traffic.
John, I understand your point, but your point actually agrees with my point. My point is that people in the South failed by electing politicians who think that government is the problem. And lo and behold, your point is that government was the problem.
If government was the problem, wouldn’t it make more sense to fix the problem, rather than elect people who want to drown the government in a bathtub? My point about “rugged individualists” was how they voted, not that they weren’t following the rules by going home.
And indeed, that is the point. Sometimes, it isn’t good enough for everyone to follow their individual rules. Sometimes you actually need a decent government to help out a bit.
And, again, in broad strokes I agree. I think of government as an equalizer, in the best of times and senses.
Nevertheless, in THIS case, this is more about generic incompetence than philosophical beliefs. Even a competent limited government politician should have been capable of seeing what was coming and dealing with it. Assuming that such a creature exists, considering how often they deny reality.
But Atlanta mayor Reed is a semi-progressive democrat. He defended himself and the governor for their poor choices over this for longer than the governor himself did.
Small government, big government, no government (yes, we do have some of those, and I wonder if they’ve really thought through how long they’d last if civilization collapsed) I don’t think anyone down here voted for any politician thinking they’d screw up like this. After the ice storm the plans (by government, competent plans) were made to deal with a recurrence. The trigger on those plans was pulled too late.
It doesn’t make a case for bigger or smaller government, it makes a case for smarter people. Which, again, is where we agree, but there are stupid politicians everywhere, not just the south.
A few simple decisions by our “leaders” (cancel school BEFORE it starts, same with government offices, stagger the release of private and government employees instead of dumping them all at once, and get the salt trucks out several hours earlier) and the situation would have been manageable. I’m frankly amazed the head of GEMA still has a job.
About the dumbest comment I saw (from someone in the Atlanta area) was on a FaceBook thread, where they said government should let private enterprise take on the responsibility for roads in these cases. How, exactly, some company could possibly afford to invest in all the equipment and supplies and personnel to handle the task when the task only occurs every few years and actually make their investment back, much less a profit, is way beyond my pay grade.
I think we are in general agreement.
I’m not trying to denigrate the South. I was born in the South and have lived in more places in the South than any other area of the US.
Not all people are good managers and leaders. The ability to get elected does not automatically translate to the ability to be a good manager and leader. It simply means they are good at convincing people they are better then another person.
One thing that I found interesting in a lot of the coverage was this claim: The traffic mess was the fault of the government because they closed at 1PM and released all of their workers onto the road at the same time as other traffic. According to BLS stats, government employees account for only about 15% of the Atlanta area work force (though the numbers are higher and fuzzier if you also consider education). Just playing a numbers game, wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that the traffic mess was the fault of private enterprises for releasing their workers at the same time? Statistically speaking, the vast majority of cars on the road were not carrying government employees. So, why is government blamed for the large influx of traffic, despite the fact that they were a clear minority? I will note that John G did mention private businesses also being at fault. But I never saw a single piece of news coverage that did. It was always phrased in a way that solely placed blame on the government.
I’m not trying to suggest that government should go blameless here, because they clearly dropped the ball regarding deployment of salt trucks and failure to plan (e.g., school closings). But I just find it interesting how some people/groups will use any and every opportunity to cast aspersions toward government.
Michael – I think private businesses and schools took their lead from the government. As I wrote above, pretty much everyone sent everyone home at 1pm. So, while you’re right about both the 15% and some people using any excuse to trash government, this is a case where leaders didn’t lead effectively.
The governor is announcing a task force today to make sure this type of thing doesn’t happen again. It appears to be made up of actual experts instead of political hacks, so maybe it’ll do some good. Because the Atlanta metro area is under so many local governments there’s some consensus that the state government should take the lead in these situations, now.
To be clear, again, I’m very much in favor of effective government, not particularly worried about the size of it. IN THIS CASE the people in charge of the government made some seriously bad calls. That includes school boards and surely doesn’t let private business off the hook, since the people who run those either made poor decisions or abrogated their responsibilies too.
Chicago has nearly twice as many people living 5/4ths of the area. Metro Detroit has 4/5ths of the population in 1/2 of the area. Besides having better mass transit (Chicago) and a better highway system design (Detroit), citizens in these urban areas do not have to travel as far to get to and from work.
Mass Transit, sensible highway design, controlling sprawl; these are all the results of good governance. And yes, I did just imply that Detroit has had better governance than Atlanta.
One thing I heard the Mayor of Atlanta say was that the schools should have gone home first. Ah, yes, just what I would want: to be at work and have my kindergarten or first grade child home alone while I’m stuck at work and ultimately in the traffic jam.
The children were perfectly safe being left at school. They have to go home Last, not first.
I think it would have been much wiser to just have closed the schools for the day. But that’s hindsight.