February 10, 2011

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if we were more like the ant and less like the grasshopper? Thus far, Scotland County has escaped the worst blizzard in the past quarter century virtually unscathed, and that can be chalked up in large part due to being prepared.

Unfortunately, it seems like we are being weaned away from vigilance and forethought by an ever expanding bureaucracy that looks to be there at every single misstep we voters make. What better way to insure your continued allegiance than to further our growing dependence upon them.

Unless you buy into Al Gore's used car salesmen bit about Global Warming, aren't we to expect a winter storm or two? Granted it is not feasible to stockpile the heavy equipment in the quantities it would take to immediately dig out from underneath two feet of snow. Still, how can any community in Missouri feel it is right to sit back on its laurels and expect someone to come to its rescue? We saw how well that worked in New Orleans.

We in the Show-Me State take pride in the belief we can rescue ourselves. Still, we jump in the relief line whenever the federal government offers to bail us out.

If you water a tree every single day, it will never exert the effort to grow its roots into the ground to search for a drink on its own. Then, the first stiff wind you get, the tree is on its side and someone is screaming for a national emergency declaration and FEMA is rushing in with temporary housing for the displaced squirrels.

Instead of learning to stand on its own, building the support system it needs to sustain itself in less than perfect conditions, the tree becomes dependent upon the hand that waters it.

I guess my philosophy on insurance spills over into my viewpoints on government bailouts. If we took all the money we wasted on premiums to cover co-pays and cheap deductibles and saved it for a rainy day, couldn't we all be money ahead? Instead we grow dependent upon the crutch instead of choosing to be prepared to take care of ourselves.

I believe in having a high-deductible policy that protects me from extreme situations. The day-to-day stuff is just something we have to plan for financially.

The same can be said for "natural disasters". Sure, there are some things that strike, which simply cannot be overcome without aid. That's why we have the catastrophic disaster policy.

Unfortunately, it seems like our federal government, and now more and more so, even our state leadership, feels like they have to be there each step of the way, holding our hand through every storm like an overpriced set of training wheels.

It snowed a bunch. Yes, it was inconvenient for a day or two. Sure, our state, county and municipal street crews were taxed with long hours and added stress of reopening our transportation systems. Agreed, that will cost more money than a normal work week and takes away from the regularly scheduled programming. But does that constitute a "disaster"? Granted that is added pressure on the budgets of all those entities, but shouldn't we be building in some financial cushion for just such emergencies? I know, much easier said than done. That means tightening the belt, trimming the fat, or worse yet, asking taxpayers for more.

Whatever happened to maintaining a reserve fund? I know the Scotland County R-I School District is currently weathering the difficult state education funding times because of sensible spending and prudent building of a financial nest egg.

The City of Memphis maintains a strong reserve in the electric fund in case a tornado or a major ice storm were to cause significant damage, not to mention the looming costs of replacements and upgrades that every piece of infrastructure in this world ultimately faces.

If we could just get state and federal government officials to do the same.

Ants are constantly bombarded with public encouragement to either increase spending to provide additional services or to cut taxes and price rates and live off the reserve under the belief that if anything bad ever happened big brother will be there to bail us out.

One of these days, the ants are going to get tired of taking care of us. Or they simply will not have anything left to give, as we have begged their cupboards bare. Then again, if we keep electing anteaters to lead the country, there won't be any workers left to take care of all the grasshoppers the current system is creating.

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