Coming storm reminds us of need for public structures and services

Road crewsThere was a great cartoon in the New Yorker magazine a couple of years back in which a man whose house is on fire stands next to it with a bucket in his hand, waving away arriving firefighters and saying “No thanks–I’m a libertarian.” As North Carolina endures another major winter storm today and tomorrow, it’ll be interesting to see how many conservative, anti-government Tea Partiers have such a thing to say about the public services and structures that will save lives, bind our society together and expedite recovery.

The guess here is the number will be very small. When it comes to natural disasters, even the far right seems to forget its hate of government and all things public — if only temporarily. For some reason, all of the “government = slavery” talk and rants about monstrous commie plots seems to go by the wayside when roads need to be plowed and basic safety and utilities need to be delivered or made possible. Who wants to listen to Limbaugh when there’s a big snowstorm blowing?

While it would be tempting, however, to attack and deride anti-government folks for their hypocrisy at such a moment, we would all do better over the coming days to simply welcome them back into the communal fold. So hang in there, stay warm and keep an eye on your neighbors — whatever their political beliefs. Maybe just maybe, the experience of coming together during a crisis will even remind a few  of our conservative fellow citizens that society fares much better when it hangs together on warm and sunny days too.


  1. Alex

    February 12, 2014 at 8:19 am

    A totally ridiculous posting ! These folks are paid to perform a community service. It’s the rest of the bureaucrats who do very little except get in the way that are the real problem. No one has ever argued about the essential services of government.

  2. Alan

    February 12, 2014 at 12:12 pm


    On the contrary, the GOP has been arguing AGAINST the essential services of government for decades. For all the foaming at the mouth anti-government rhetoric spewed by the Tea-Party, they seem to have no problem with aspects of the governmentr that may be of benfit to them. Try government handouts to subsiduze their personal choise of private education for example.

  3. Alex

    February 12, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    You should have run the spellchecker Alan ! Hands are quicker than the brain.

  4. Lucinda

    February 12, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    This boils down to the fundamental question that we, as a nation, seem reluctant to answer: What exactly are the essential government services?

  5. Alan

    February 12, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Oh, goodness me… a spelling error. I’ll put it down to an old sticky/dodgy keyboard. Thanks for pointing that out, I’ll sleep easier tonight.

  6. LayintheSmakDown

    February 13, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Well Alan/ML you are the master of pointing out spelling errors. I seem to remember that was the only rebuttal you contributed to a couple of comment lines of mine.

    As far as essential services, I doubt you would get many conservatives that would not admit that fire, police, rescue, road maintenance/DOT, national defense are not essential. The main arguments in my Tea Party group are against things that are not the core functions of government such as the ever expanding welfare state focused on handouts….which are increasingly taking away from the essential services.

  7. Lucinda

    February 13, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    LSD, I agree with your essential services. Although I’d say all of them, except National Defense, are underfunded.

    Not that I think we necessarily spend too much on Defense, but we spend it badly. The military should not be forced to buy expensive equipment they can’t use and don’t want. And do we really need ten super-carrier groups? When the rest of the world _combined_ has only four. Or why do we continue buying Abrams M-1 tanks when there are 2,000 sitting outside in a Nevada desert because we can’t use them.

    Infrastructure maintenance is very important. Without roads and airports and water and the like, businesses would not be able to do what they do. And I do believe that if the government actually did the maintenance that was required on our existing infrastructure that there would be more jobs available. Unfortunately it’s not a particularly sexy way to spend money.

    In addition, I look at the Preamble to the Constitution as a guide to determining essential services. To quote, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    In this, “establish Justice” is the second thing mentioned so the courts of law would be an essential service. A number of support programs for people in need would fall under promoting the general welfare. If you think long-term, making sure the ‘have-nots’ aren’t completely destitute is good for the ‘haves.’ Less chance of living through something akin to the original French Revolution.

    Even Ayn Rand went a bit beyond your list when she stated that the purpose of government was to protect its citizens from the use of force or fraud. The latest bureau added to the government (CFPB) is designed to accomplish her second goal: protect citizens from financial fraud.

  8. LayintheSmakDown

    February 14, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Yes, I had forgot the courts which are essential to keeping the rule of law. However I am not to keen on the “general welfare” thing as the regressives seem to thing it means ever increasing handouts to enslave people to government. And don’t forget the huge huge waste and fraud there, which considering the massive size of handouts the billions of waste are massive.

    And the military size, that can be debated what with China rising and will certainly become belligerent at some point (probably when we default on this spending spree Barry has taken us on)so we do need a strong military. Although it is getting weaker each year as government handouts take an increasing percentage away from that too.

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