Monday, January 3, 2011

Come Hell or High Water

Recently in the news:
UK - Britain's winter is the coldest since 1683 and close to being the chilliest in nearly 1,000 years

MOSCOW — Prime Minister Vladimir Putin harshly reprimanded officials Wednesday over a winter weather shutdown at Moscow airports that left thousands stranded for days, and he banned high-ranking officials from taking vacations until further notice. Icy rains covered runways and planes with a thick layer of ice over the weekend and caused a blackout at the capital's largest airport, Domodedovo, which halted all flights for a day. Domodedovo resumed operations Monday, but a backlog of delayed flights left thousands stuck.

New York, ... all three airports were closed for a time, ... thousands of flights canceled by the storm—and especially the difficulty the airlines experienced trying to rebook passengers—was at least partially a consequence of an overburdened air travel system, one that lacked the flexibility to deal with an extreme event.

NEW YORK — As many as 9,000 passengers were stuck on the tarmac from three to 12 hours at John F. Kennedy International Airport as a result of this week's blizzard, and blame shifting has already begun.... "It was so frustrating, just sitting there for hours, waiting for more bad news," Cathay passenger Gigi Godfrey, 24, told the Associated Press.

New York mayor Mayor Bloomberg apologized for snow screw-ups during blizzard of 2010.
I want the significance of this statement to sink in – the Mayor is apologizing for not having enough GOVERNMENT employees on hand to deal with city services.

The “entitlement attitude” in western society, and in America in particular, is extremely annoying to me. We seem to have this expectation that we should be immune to inconvenience, delays and acts of nature. By god, we have a right to build our condo on the beach and the government better damn well replace it after the storm surge wipes it into the surf… for the third time. How dare the airline cancel my flight due to unsafe flying conditions!

I am particularly bothered by the public's disconnect between their disdain for all things government yet the equally contradictory expectation that government insulate them from all the uncertainties of human existence. People often bring up the anecdote of their Department of Motor Vehicles – they chaff at the necessity to stand in a line every eight years; yet they are equally as certain that the damn DMV, and government in general, is over staffed.

I level my own accusatory finger toward the news media as purveyors of the entitlement expectation. Often in the aftermath of disaster, the first thing out of news is speculation about how the response could have been anticipated and handled better... followed by the question of who should be fired. In other words, regardless of the cause, SOMEONE is to blame.

Were I Mayor Bloomburg, rather than apologizing, I might ask the press corps how they think the snow plow drivers get to work? Or explain how difficult it is to plow a street choked by the abandoned cars of those idiots who believed they had a right to drive regardless of extreme conditions. Bloomburg should, in my opinion, be saying: “You people wanted less government; you have the government you deserve.”

It reminds me of a poem I heard years ago, titled “The Job”:

I'm not allowed to run the train
The whistle I can't blow
I'm not the one who designates
How far the train will go
I'm not allowed to blow the steam
Or even ring the bell
But let the damn thing jump the track
And see who catches hell.


Gorilla Bananas said...

Maybe someone ought to write a book with the title The People are to Blame!

Infidel753 said...

they chaff at the necessity to stand in a line every eight years; yet they are equally as certain that the damn DMV, and government in general, is over staffed.

It's about what one would expect in a country where so many people getting Medicare go to teabagger rallies against socialized medicine.

It's the same problem that leads people to object to vaccinations for their kids while taking our relatively disease-free modern lives as just the way things are, a given -- inability to connect cause and effect.

In fairness to "the people", I think the majority of Americans are smarter than that. Often the ones who make the most noise aren't representative.

Jerry said...

I agree completely and I'm really fascinated, or I guess disturbed, by our persistent attempts at isolating nature from our lives. For the longest time nature was a source of awe and served to put us in our place. Now, it's just a nuisance.

Okay -- I just read that and my thought really didn't come through. But maybe you know what I mean.

DJan said...

Yes, you said it well, Robert. I actually LOVE those interruptions of daily life, but then again I can stay home if I need to. But in Colorado when we had a snowstorm, I made my way on foot to work, miles away, and I enjoyed the change in routine, plus the workout!

TechnoBabe said...

Did you see the pictures of Mayor Bloomburg's street plowed clean of snow and comparisons with all the other streets in the city?

MartyrMom said...

How I wish I could hop on the soap box with you. The "entitlement attitude" has always pissed me off(I guess it's better to be pissed off than pissed We've created our own monster

I stand on the side lines and cheer!

billy pilgrim said...

right on with the sense of entitlement attitude.

not only do we have a sense of entitlement, we expect someone else to pay for our indulgences and it looks like that someone will be our children and grandchildren.

Robert the Skeptic said...

BananasThere are: "Mistakes ere Made (but not by me). Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions and hurtful acts". Much has been written on the Psychology of Blame.

Infidel Are a majority of Americans smarter than that? I sometimes wonder. The numbers of people who believe in ghosts, psychics, alternative medicine, but who think evolution is false or the earth was created by god - the numbers are significant; some of these beliefs held by some pretty supposedly brilliant people.

It is an interesting study to delve into how much traction the Tea Party dolts gained and accomplished with our political system.

Jerry No I know exactly what you mean. Like somehow natural, and sometimes unusual, events out of our control somehow do not matter. I can't tell you how many times we've seen on TV the people rescued from their cars in the midst of a raging river. What is seldom revealed is that the person drove around the "Road Closed" signs, putting themselves in that situation.

Robert the Skeptic said...

DJan Events like that can be enjoyable if one turns them to their advantage. But being angry at the airline because weather has delayed your flight makes no sense at all.

Techno Yes, I saw that. But was it a surprise to you that the rich and powerful always seem to receive preferental treatment?

MartyrMom I think part of that attitude is a spin-off from "the customer is always right" mind set. We seem to be able to get by with outrageous behavior when the exchange of money is involved.

Billy During the Savings and Loan Bailout in the 1980's, a woman in a TV forum indignantly stated: "I don't think the taxpayer should pay for it [the bailout], the GOVERNMENT should pay for it." Priceless!

Anonymous said...

I don't have nearly the disdain for those who are frustrated when the government is not working as expected, as long as they are not advocating "less government" at the same time.
Of course, I am a public employee, so maybe I am not exactly objective here.
I have recently heard a theory that conservatives purposely underfund the government, then when things don't work, they can point to how bad government is at doing its' job. Not surprised.

Kay Dennison said...

Great post!!!! The poem is priceless!!!!!

Happy New Year!!!!!!

Nance said...

Perhaps my New Year's resolution should be to limit my commercial news sources very strictly. I thought I already had, but insidious corporate creep out-paces me.

A-a-a-nd, there we are right back to Carlin's conversation about our "bought and sold" status. Even if we are nothing more than animated consumption units, we complain when we think we aren't getting what we paid for.

With global climate change, we're experiencing weather we aren't prepared for. Bitchin' and moanin' is terribly unattractive in us (especially from those who deny climate change), but that braying and whining sounds a lot like the early strains of an American wake-up call.

secret agent woman said...

When weather conditions are dangerous, I want my flight cancelled or delayed. When a blizzard hits, I expect for it to take a good long while before roads are passable. People really have become whining, entitled babies. (The acronym we sometimes use in my field is BFB - big fucking baby.)

Robert the Skeptic said...

BackRow I have worked for (State) government for a majority of my career. The exceptions hit the news and that is what people focus on. They don't seem to notice that every time they turn on their tap, water comes out. Boring!

Kay I remember that poem from my childhood. I was lucky to find it on the Internet.

Nance I irritates me to no end that, when the news media reports these weather extremes, they go out of their way to AVOID attributing this to Global Climate Change... as if they think they will be forwarding a partisan opinion stance by revealing that FACT!

SecretAgent Precisely - Can you imagine the blowback if the airlines relented to customer DEMANDS and an accident resulted? My guess is that the day we find out there is an asteroid headed directly toward earth, some morons are going to blame the government.

Kay Dennison said...

Robert, could you send me the link? It reminds me of my railroader father and grandfather. The former spent 20 years as a maintainer/lead signalman and the latter retired as a foreman. Needless to say, my first song was "I've Been Working on the Railroad."

adrielleroyale said...

Oh yes, I completely agree - our sense of entitlement is completely out of control. Hell, I even have to catch myself now and then and remind myself of just how good we have it and that no, I am NOT actually entitled to that! I'm young though and kind of grew up with all that entitlement BS, so I blame the media...HAhahaha! ;) Lucky thing my parents were actually parents and put me in my place :)

Great post and fantastic comment on Jerry's blog which brought me here - got a belly laugh on that one!

The Mother said...

But the real question: Global warming?

Murr Brewster said...

And just the other day I FLEW through the DMV with my car passing the test so fast I didn't even have the check written. And I'd brought stuff to read and everything. I swear, you just can't count on ANYTHING anymore.

Great post.

PeterDeMan said...

Since my minds aren't working really well, only comment I can have is we reap what we sow. The idiots are getting what they wanted only to find out that's not what they wanted; it actually affects them.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Kay Done.

Adrielle Welcome. Yes, it is an odd mind set, that we feel somehow we should be insulated from the foibles of nature; and that "the government", which we love to hate, needs to step in with that comforting "insulation".

Dr. Mom They are trying to shinny away from the term "Warming" and calling it "change" to explain extremes of temperatures. Again, there are those (like my father-in-law) who feel the extremes are not anthropegenically caused.

Murr Shhhhh! Remember governor Tom McCall didn't want us to spill the beans about how good we have it here in Oregon least we generate a influx of Shangra La-seekers. I keep harping to "outsiders" how awful it is to pump our own gas! It usually keeps 'em at bay.

Peter I think that every time I see the pictures of some mansion built in the forest.. burned down after a forest fire. I wonder what they were expecting?

Octopus said...

There are the boiled frogs of climate change denialism who say, "Pooh baah; feel how cold it is. What global warming!"

About these extremes of weather ... floods in Australia, Arctic conditions in Moscow, blizzards in Europe and North America, floods in California ... these were predicted in computer simulations of global climate change decades ago. But our news media doesn't report them; no one reads them; and the oil fascists propagandize against them. The public has no right to complain because, as consumers who refuse to be inconvenienced, they are partly to blame.

Within the hour, I must wait in line at my local DMV to renew my DL. Brings lots of documentation, I am told. One from group A, 2 from Group B, and 3 from Group C. Mandated by Homeland Security, they tell me.

Rachel Noy said...

If you want to get somewhere quick, grab a shovel!

I'd rather be safe though than faffing around and stressing. Act of God (I don't know what the atheist version is) is a better excuse than any to not do something!

Robert the Skeptic said...

Octopus Homeland Security - talk about inconvenience!! [Don't get me started...]

Robert the Skeptic said...

Rachael The Atheist version is "Act of Nature".

kara said...

yay! new republican congress! with the sole goal of repealing the healthcare bill and cutting taxes for no damn reason! this can't possibly end badly!

Marylinn Kelly said...

What I know is always the best choice is to make peace with what is...working in opposition to events over which we have no control does not make them turn out better. While it is much easier to say than to do, it does have a payoff and doesn't involve the need to blame. Things go awry. And we can assume they will go further awry with fewer firefighters, fewer dates when courts are in session, permanently closed DMV offices, fewer and more crowded flights. It's not so hard to understand - you don't get to have it both ways.

GutsyWriter said...

I am leaving for Paris and Copenhagen next Thursday, and am ready to wait for delays, but I BETTER NOT BE DELAYED on my way back, as I have a conference to attend in San Diego at the end of January. So I HAVE TO CONTROL THE SNOW. HAHAHAHA! What has society come to? My UK friends were forced to catch a flight on Dec. 27th, instead of Dec. 21st, due to Heathrow being shut down. They took it very well. No complaints.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Kara And new House Speaker, John Boner, is rightly railing against Obamacare as he has that nifty "Washington-run Health Care" that the American People are all against.

Marylinn We don't get to have it both ways... yet the public continually wants more services and less taxes. The Republicans have been railing against big government (that increases substantially during the Bush Administration, by the way) and NOW they have to put their foot in their mouths and deliver on what the public (thinks) it wants withough pissing them off because THEIR personal favorite program gets cut. Good luck with that.

Cudos to your friends in the UK. I mean, if you had to stay another week in the UK... ooooh how awful!!! I should be so lucky.

Anonymous said...

Here Here. I live outside the US now - I can tell an American before talking with them by two signs -good teeth and obesity. Although we complain about healthcare and poverty, the fact is, we have so much more than other countries and most people don't realize it.

Robert the Skeptic said...

amblerangel I once met a Brit while vacationing in Cancun' who was complaining about having to wait two months to get in to see a specialist. I could not get in to see my Dermatologist for four months.

I asked him how many of his countrymen had to declare bankruptcy due to medical bills. He just stared at me blankly.

Entre Nous said...

Hear, hear! But what would those irratated citizens say when told what it would cost them as taxpayers were there always enough workers, hmmm.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Entre Nous Exactly... consistently taypayers have demonstrated that their desires and expectations are mutually exclusive. You can't have government services without funding the government that provides them.