With the fast approach of Hurricane Irene, there’s a temptation for those of us who believe in public structures and services to want to give a little grief to the anti-government, tea-partying right wing. If we were to succumb, it might go something like this:
“Hey all of you in the ‘don’t tread me’ crowd, thanks for abstaining from any reliance on public services in the coming days. As people who believe that all government is wasteful bureaucracy, we know that if you have any problems resulting from the hurricane, you’ll be sure to rely exclusively on private emergency, law enforcement, and storm recovery services. If you have to evacuate your home, we know you’ll avoid relocating to, say, a public school. Oh, and, we’ll also count on you to avoid using any information generated by the national weather service or publicly financed weather satellites. We’re also happy to know that all of you (especially those living right on the coastline) will refuse any publicly-financed loans or recovery dollars when it comes time to rebuild your homes and businesses.”
Fortunately, like parents who still love their spoiled and self-absorbed children, we who believe in public systems and structures will set these temptations aside when crunch time comes. Ultimately, that’s the beauty of such common good systems and structures — they work best when everyone is in it together (even those who are too stubborn to admit their own need to be a part of a collective).
Indeed, if there’s anything good to come from this impending disaster, maybe it will be the reminder it will provide to a lot of very forgetful Americans of how absurd their oblivious and self-absorbed anti-government attitudes really are.