Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy, The Media, and Personal Responsibility

This morning I am watching Fox News to get the headlines.   I really don't like the mainstream media.  As a former journalist, with a Master's Degree in the field, I find the blatant bias on display at the national level glaringly obvious,  almost to the point of absurdity.

Case in point:   This morning, the discussion centered around the lack of fuel for cars and generators in New England.   Most of the gas stations are either out of fuel for the pumps or the power is out to the pumps.   People are standing in line for hours for gasoline to run generators.   Aid is slowly trickling in.

At one point a guest commentator sitting in for Brian Kilmeade says, "Why can't they just get generators and bring them to the gas stations?"

 Not a bad idea, actually.  This would allow commerce to resume and allow people to get the fuel they need.

 "Or why can't they just bring in filled gas cans and hand them out to people?"

You have got to be freaking kidding me.  Why should FEMA be responsible for giving everyone fuel for their generators?  What kind of crap is that?

New Jersey residents fill a gas can.  Just one.
There are legitimate needs in New England.  Rescuers are still fishing bodies out of the water.  People are without food, power, water and sanitation.   Communications are down.  The infrastructure took a real hit, and it's not going to come back overnight.  It never does.  The region needs help to recover from the storm, and that help is coming.  Repair crews, prepositioned, have been swarming into the area.   Water is being pumped out of the low-lying areas of New York City.  Medical aid is coming in to help the swamped health care system.

But it's NEW ENGLAND.  You get bad storms EVERY winter.  If you have the forethought to purchase a generator, why would you not purchase and store fuel as well?

On June 29, 2012, a massive storm called a derecho swept through my state and left most of it without power.  We were caught off guard.  There was little or no warning of the storm.   People went for up to two weeks without power.  We learned, and we knew what we needed to do if something like this happened again.
Much of this preparation by myself and others paid off when Sandy came ashore and the rain and flood event in the Northeast became a snow event in our area.   Areas of my state saw over 30 inches of snow.  But unlike the derecho in June, residents had warning and were prepared this time.   And our power grid, much of which had to be replaced in June, suffered much less damage and is being repaired much more quickly, because the power company learned lessons as well.

Preparedness is, at its core, the personification of the concept of personal responsibility.   If Hurricane Katrina showed us anything in 2005, it was that if you are waiting for someone to come rescue you, you are going to be waiting for some time.   You need to take responsibility for your own wellbeing and safety.  The people at the New Orleans convention center discovered this.  So did the people at the Superdome.  Remember all those wonderful tearjerker news pieces showing starving babies in those places?

Which gets me to what really infuriates me about Fox News.  STOP.  Stop jumping up and down like an organ grinder's monkey and doing the same garbage the left-wing media did to George W. Bush.   We get it.  You don't like Barack Obama.  I'm not a fan either.  Now STOP IT.  You aren't helping.  You are either for individual freedom and the responsibility that comes with it or you aren't.  Your principles and what you tolerate should not change depending on who's occupying the White House.

Keep in mind that everyone knew this storm was coming, just like Katrina in 2005.  There was time for people to get out or be transported out if they did not have the means.  After all, it is the Northeast,  and many people, especially in New York, do not have cars and depend on public transit.  Some even chose not to evacuate when ordered to do so.  They should be the last in line when it comes to getting aid, and not one rescue worker should not be put at risk saving them.  You have a God-given right to be stupid.   Don't expect the rest of us to bail you out when you act stupidly.

Then there are towns that won't accept help from out-of-state electrical crews because the workers don't belong to a union.  That isn't a joke.  Read all about it here.

I really hope the people in the towns that turned down help wise up and vote those jokers out of office.  If you can't fix it yourself, you'd better be willing to accept the help you're offered.  Perhaps the media will cover that, but probably not.   After all, bashing local politicians and their short-sightedness and mismanagement of a crisis is not as sexy as bashing a sitting president.  Ray Nagin, anyone?

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