America: Land of the mindless by Mustang
I recently read an article by David Abel in the Boston Globe that spoke in sympathetic terms about Mr. Victor Ruiz, a 64-year old retired bartender in Puerto Rico, who was forced to wait 35 hours for gasoline. Ruiz, father of six, is well known for his skill in making Pina Coladas and playing dominos. Abel writes that Ruiz was a patient man and one who would rather do things for himself and not rely on the help of others. His four-bedroom home was destroyed by Hurricane Maria, forcing Mr. and Mrs. Ruiz to stay with a daughter. There is no power or running water, which placed the Ruiz family in the same predicament as everyone else on the island of Corozal.
At some point, Victor noted that their cars (e.g., more than one) began to run low on fuel, which was crucial because without power, Victor needed the use of his car battery to power the machine he uses to treat his emphysema. So, one morning about a week after the hurricane, Victor took his gasoline canister and walked to a gasoline station a half-mile from his daughter’s house. There, he waited with others also attempting to get gasoline. Well, with no power, there won’t be any pumping of gasoline and so Victor and other neighbors waited in the hot sun, in a growing line. They waited until nightfall, passing the time by playing cards, and eating rice and beans. Mrs. Ruiz came to relieve him for about a half-hour while Victor took a power nap.
Not long after that, a worker at a nearby propane plant opened a valve that had been damaged by the hurricane, sparking a fire that sent a dark cloud of smoke over the town. Police ordered Ruiz and others waiting for gas to evacuate the area.
Ruiz lumbered to his wife’s SUV and drove back to his daughter’s house, but upon arrival Victor lost consciousness. His wife found him dead sitting half inside the vehicle, still wearing his inhaler.
So, okay, what we have here is a tragedy, but not an unforeseen one. Who doesn’t know that hurricanes are a destructive force of nature? Who living in Puerto Rico, or anywhere else where hurricanes are known to visit, doesn’t understand that the aftermath of a terrible storm brings weeks of challenges and discomforts? Who living in such places doesn’t know that preparation for a hurricane is the key to survival? If you are living along the beach, you must evacuate. If you are living up to several tens of miles inland, you need to prepare your property for strong winds, heavy rain, and flying debris. Some of us even have to be watchful for tornadoes. If we rely on gasoline for power, then we stock up on gasoline; we store it in a safe place. Or, if we are on breathing apparatus, then we need to evacuate to a community shelter where medical personnel are always nearby.
In the aftermath of a hurricane, or any other natural disaster, there is no magic wand to wave to make everything better again. Life isn’t like that … so, as I mentioned earlier, preparation is the key. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Why didn’t Mr. Ruiz prepare for himself and his family in advance of Maria’s arrival? My guess is that Mr. Ruiz has become mentally dependent upon the government. The aftermath of a large storm isn’t his problem, it’s the government’s problem —except that we can now see that it was Mr. Ruiz’ problem and no one contributed more to his own demise than he did.
Now let’s extrapolate. Suppose thoroughly bad people have been able to hack into America’s several electrical grids and let’s say that they are able to shut down the power supply over huge areas of the United States. Without power, there will be no gasoline for anyone; no one will be able to go to the grocery store and buy food, or water. Under these circumstances, we can say that it would be the fault of the United States government for the government has done nothing at all to prevent such shenanigans. Huge populations could be affected and it is my guess that, failing the opportunity to secure cash from an ATM, or obtain gasoline, or food and water, it would not take more than a few days for anarchy to reign … and it wouldn’t be pretty.
So, here are my two points: first, understanding how incompetent the government is, isn’t it time for Americans to stop relying on the government for their total wellbeing? Second, if Americans aren’t willing to prepare for the worst-case scenario, whether that be terrible storms or enemies of the United States, they have no one to blame for their suffering but themselves. If we persist in relying on the government to feed us, water us, provide us with power to generate the things we value most, then we are simply mind-numbing stupid.
Where am I wrong about this?