Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hurricanes Blow in Mary Poppins Nanny State


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

I have noticed that the Deep South which often votes against socialistic solutions suddenly clamors for Miss Nanny State whenever a hurricane hits. Meanwhile, we are scolded by these same people for trying to build a social safety net for other times.

My family and I lived in a tent complex for ten years. It is snowing outside tonight. Brrr. I used to say, the refrigerator has turned on when this happened in the past. I had no ice, no matter how hot it was outside in summer, we just lived with it. The airconditioner turned on in January. With a vengence. No one gave us heat, we had to cut up our firewood, split it, stack it, unstack it, set it on fire in the fireplace, jiggle it around until it burned, etc. No one did this for us. We ate fresh veggies from the garden in summer and had meat in the winter when the refrigerator outside turned on. Once, to celebrate New Year's, Van put a bottle of champagne in our outdoor refrigerator by dropping the bottle into a snowbank. We forgot about it until midnight when I remembered to dig it out again. It was nearly frozen since it was -10 degrees outside. Frozen champagne doesn't bubble. We chewed on it instead and laughed.

We weathered terrible storms in that tent complex. Shrieking winds, falling trees, a lightning bolt hit us inside, even! Water ran through it in floods. We lived cheek and jowl with Mother Nature and She was absolutely ferocious with us.

It was also wonderful. We had a toad live inside with us, I made him his own little door. We had wood rats and chickadees live with us. We saw many rainbows and played in mountains of snow, sledding off the roof in winter, down the mountainside.

The main thing is, it wasn't all that terribly hard, living this way. Watching the people screaming for ice in Florida amazes me, frankly. They can't exist for even three days without ice. I have existed without it often. Once, in NYC, we lost electricity for over three days. My neighborhood burned down in the looting riots. I had shopped for two week's worth of food when it happened and what we didn't eat the first 24 hrs, we shared with whoever didn't have food, it was all gone and we just ate unrefrigerated foods and this wasn't a hurricane that took over a week to arrive! After all, then one can plan ahead, no? And store dry food in waterproof containers, right? And store some damn water! Gads!

For ten years, my water was drawn far away and brought home by hand, we lugged water around. "Running water" was rain or someone going fast while carrying a bucket! No one from FEMA brought me a drop of water. I had to plan ahead, how much water to fetch and how to use it. Duh.

When we had no electricity that hot summer in NYC, no one came with ice. FEMA didn't exist and the gov. of NY didn't give one hoot about us, we were in a slum so they just stood there and watched our homes burn. No one replaced my food which was a hardship for me but I copped.

I happen to believe we need a nanny state precisely because I don't need one. But if I were frail or infirm, you bet, I would need one! Young and strong, no. But why do so many people vote to kill the nanny state and then scream like babies when it doesn't come immediately to comfort and coddle them? And further, this refusal to support a nanny state leads right wingers and Bush voters to refuse to pay taxes so that this infantile behavior has to be put on our national credit card which is now over $8 trillion in the red.

Southerners who can't live in the south because it is hot, screaming for ice and water disturbs me greatly for I lived there in my youth and deliberately did without airconditioners because I didn't want to become soft. I deliberately trained myself to live without water for 24 hrs to make my body adapt to hot conditions. I learned to cope with nature down there so I could function in the heat in emergencies. Ditto up north. In winter, when it comes, I deliberately don't wear much, I expose my skin to the bitter cold to habituate it so my body adjusts to the coming cold. By January, I can run around in subzero weather with a medium weight coat and warm boots. If it rises to 25 degrees, I wear a tee shirt, it is so warm to me.

So what is going on here?

All my life, if my roof is ruined, I fixed it myself. Because roofs can get ruined, I always keep a tarp in storage just in case. Any idiot living in hurricane land who doesn't do this deserves to have a leaky roof. Yet I see my tax dollars being used to not only hand out free tarps down there, FEMA is even putting them on roofs at my expense because evidently, southerners are incapable of doing their own work, eh? Never ever no matter how terrible the storm, and I have been hit by tornadoes!--has any government come riding into town to fix my roof for me. Period. Not once.

And lord knows, my tent needed tarps after vicious storms! Heh. It was always tarp city! But never did anyone give me one for free. I had to scrape together my pennies when I was poor and buy one.

So tell me, why are we doing this for free at my expense for people who hate having a helping government do this for me some day? Huh? Now is time for Jeb Bush to call for his brother to raise taxes on the rich so FEMA can buy ice for people in vacationland Florida.

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