Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A good lesson

So, we’ve been hit by a huge windstorm Thursday night. On Friday there were a total of 1.5 million homes and businesses without power. Wind gusted to 113 mph near Mount Rainier and to a record 69 mph at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. So far 14 deaths are blamed on the storm.

We were without power for 4 days. During the night it got really cold inside the house since outside temperatures were in the middle 20s (around -4 C). There were no gas stations open. My car’s tank was less than ¼ full, so I could not go very far. All traffic lights were not working, so it took a long time to drive anywhere. On Friday, my phone line stopped working. Cell phones did not work at all, and the batteries were all out on Saturday in any case.

There were no warnings on Thursday from the weather services. Just the usual stuff about a “storm”, the kind of warning you get twice every month. There were no extra police on the streets. No government vans looking for people that were freezing inside their houses or for old people who starved after the food in the fridge went bad.

I live in King County, one of the richest counties in the country. The State Government just reported an operational surplus of 1.4 Billion dollars.

Virtually all parts of government here are democrat. From the city counsel to the mayor to the governor and senators, everybody is a blue "for the people" Dem.

Still, if you analyze what has happened here you will conclude that this was a pretty much like Katrina. The only real difference was that the winds here were a little weaker and there were no levies to break. That’s it.

Now, you won’t see the newspapers talking about all of this. After all, only 14 people died. Also, and most important, King county is mostly white and rich. Government doesn’t need to help these people, right?

However, government guarantees that it is here to help. They surely eat some nice chunk of people’s income. They build big agencies and say that the reason the county is rich is exactly because the government is so strong.

The truth is that the government didn’t help because it couldn’t. First of all, it can’t even predict these things. Second, it doesn’t scale. The daily needs of a citizen are so much smaller than the needs of that same citizen during a crisis that is simply impossible to keep an infrastructure capable of helping everybody (or something close to the majority) during such times.

What happened in New Orleans should have been a warning. Not about the incompetency and slowness of government (which are inherent and should be expected) but about this crazy notion that people could actually bet their own lives on their government!

This may sound obvious to many but is not what the press and the government wants you to think. I believe, honest to god, that this is a very important point. It is CRUCIAL that people understand that they need to depend only on themselves. The biggest the disaster, the clearer this should be.