Last month, two big events happened in the North Country. The first was the tax-filing deadline in mid-April, a time of fear and loathing for many people.
The mantra these days is hard-wired into the American psyche, part of our live-free-or-die-DNA: This is our money and the government has no place making our wallets any lighter.
But the second big event was a deluge of rain and snow water that began April 26th.
A week later, it’s still raining and those tax dollars we throw in the kitty have materialized in the form of sandbags, dam and bridge inspectors, and road reconstruction crews.
When I cover stories like this, I’m constantly struck by the break in how we view the government and our relationship to it.
We grumble, we tell pollsters we think the whole affair is too costly and too wasteful. But when storm comes we expect government to be there.
They say there are no atheists in foxholes? Well, there are no libertarians in a crisis.
This schizophrenic attitude extends to the highest levels of politics and to all parties.
When he was in Moriah last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, promised that aid would continue to flow to the region. But when asked how it would be paid for, he didn’t have an answer.
But the simple reality is that every fire truck pumping basements this week and every backhoe shoring up road embankments is paid for either by taxes or borrowed money. It’s really that simple.
And as we begin the massive reconstruction efforts, even more cash will have to come out of someone’s pocket.
The time is long overdue when we should begin to think and talk more honestly about how to pick up the tab for the government services we need and demand.
As always, your thoughts welcome.