Elaine Meinel Supkis
In the Northeast USA, we have to prepare for winter. I worked very hard to get all the systems ready for this annual event. But even with this, all sorts of things can go wrong. In this case, a lot of things went wrong all at once. My tractor's radiator broke last week and we had to wait for the part to come in to the dealer. Then, right before what was supposed to be a small snow storm, the wiring on the snow plow broke. So yesterday was a real adventure as we had to drive over 70 miles round trip to make various repairs...in the middle of a very nasty, major snow storm.
Naturally, 'when it rains, it pours.' Or in this case, 'when it snows, it dumps.' When I went to bed the night before, the prediction was for less than 3" of snow so I wasn't worried about the snow plow being broken. But when I was in the middle of writing yesterday's complicated story with lots of graphics, my husband came in and said, 'They just said we will get more than 5" of snow.'
So I looked at the weather radar and said, 'Oh no, it is going to pull moisture out of the Atlantic south of us! We are going to have a very bad storm.' Just then, our mechanic called and said, 'If you can bring the plow in by 1 pm, we can fix it today.'
Minutes later, the tractor supply company called to say our part arrived. So I took out the tractor, my husband chained the snow plow to the bucket and very gingerly, we dropped it into the back of the big pick up truck. The first snow flakes began to fall. Off we drove, heading west, into the rapidly worsening storm. By the time we made it over the big ridge, we put the jeep and the truck into 4 wheel drive. We had to drive slower and slower. The visibility dropped. Eventually, we were crawling along as the snow piled up. The roads were very slick because this was sleet/snow which is like ball bearings.
By the time we reached the city of Albany, the place was in chaos as cars began to skid all over the place. Accidents began to happen. Then, all hell broke loose. A man decided to commit suicide from the highway overpass leading to Rennselaer. This tied up traffic for miles, already snarled by the storm. We now had to stop every 15 to 20 minutes to clean ice from the wiper blades. Our speed was now only 5 mph or less. Finally, 5 minutes before 1pm, we rolled into the parking lot of T&T equipment repairs.
The drive home featured cars off the road, all over the place. By now, a foot of snow had fallen and we crawled back home again. When we got back home, the mechanic who said it would take at least 24 hours to fix the snow plow, called to say he was done. But we couldn't spend another 6 hours crawling back, of course.
So we will do this tomorrow morning. Worn out from all this, we went to bed early. But I woke up and decided to write this story about everything going wrong because I won't have any time tomorrow morning to post my usual stories. Oh, we went to the in-laws and the garage door broke and it was icy outside and I fell down three times, trying to push the snow blower around on the ice. My foot still hurts from that little affair.
All this is a metaphor for life: even if we prepare for winter, things happen. Life is all about struggle. And has dangers. And overcoming hazards is part of growing up and working together is how we deal with the inevitable problems which always seems to come in groups rather than one by one. People died in this storm. From accidents, heart attacks while shoveling snow, suicide, etc. The region was paralyzed. The snow removal plans were not immediately operational because they rely on the weather forecasters to decide if school should be cancelled or if the plow people should get the equipment out. Naturally, all the schools had to send children home early and as semi trucks jack knifed on highways [one did this very close to us] and cars were playing demolition derby, armies of children were put onto buses and sent into this mess.
The economy is like this. Smart people notice that winter is coming. They prepare for winter. But even then, when winter actually hits, there is still chaos and death. This is probably why smart people look ahead, plan ahead and have multiple systems set up. This is why living as if there will never be a winter is foolish. And not having several alternatives as well as stocking up on food and other survival materials, matters a lot.
This storm caused terrible problems in the Midwest. It cut power to millions and caused many accidents and some deaths. In places that have far fewer icy storms than we get, tree limbs brought down power lines. Here, we get this less due to work crews who cost money, going about the region all summer long, trimming tree branches that overhand power lines. We also pay for expensive programs to strengthen power lines so they don't fall. Some communities like one I lived in, South Orange, New Jersey, or NYC, bury their power lines entirely. Cheaper systems make fun of the places that are more expensive or which have higher taxes but this is the price we all pay, collectively, so we can weather bad storms!
Many places prefer to ignore the possibility of earthquakes or hurricanes and live each day, heedlessly, hoping nothing will ever happen. Then, when it happens, they run around in a panic. We see this in finances today: total panic. The system has been set up as if there will never be a winter. All the advice given to people presumes winter will never come, there will never be a Great California Earthquake or Big Blow in Florida. We know that the housing crash is hitting both very hard now. But if we get a hurricane or earthquake, it will be even worse. And this probably will happen.
The US government has chosen to spend as if there is no tomorrow. Our ability to cope with looming disasters is collapsing as our ability to run things in the red in GOOD TIMES now cannot cope with even slight problems. It is as if we are planning for a winter of only 3" snow falls even though we know, due to history, we can get 3 foot snow falls. Citizens need to trust the sagacity of their leaders to protect them from harm. If the leaders all say, 'We don't have to balance the budget, we don't have to balance trade and we can have our cake and eat it too,' then we cannot blame the public for rejoicing and doing stupid things.
The media exists to sell stuff. And they can't sell stuff if they tell us, we must save our money for the possibility of winter coming. This is the key to what ails us all: no one is saving much of anything. The US has no sovereign wealth funds. We have no surpluses of any sort except nuclear bombs. We not only did not save, savers have been mocked or the government has conspired to steal savings, outright. With inflation running at least at 7% a year, all systems are set to run well below this. The lack of savings coupled with the refusal to give a realistic rate of return on savings is causing a bank crisis bigger than any I have seen before.
But this was easy to forecast. I put my finger to the wind and sniffed the air and my horse, Sparky, looked nervous while the cats huddled by the woodstove, ignoring the dogs who tried to lay on the same small rug. 'Winter is here,' I said and I took out my down feather coat and wool hat. 'Time for the snow plow to break.'
I said, three years ago, when the US went into negative savings territory for the first time since the Great Depression, 'This is very bad news. The Fed must raise interest rates very high to attract savings and stop wild lending.' But they were too slow. And when the inevitable end to wild lending came, instead of lecturing us about the need to save money and reward savers, they did the exact opposite.
They are trying desperately to give out more loans. We do not need loans. It is as if we are watching the thermometer drop in temperature so Bernanke and the government decide it is time to turn on the air conditioning! Only Ron Paul talked about saving money. Everyone running for President aside from him and Kucinich, talk about cutting taxes or increasing spending. The gigantic military spending bill of nearly $700 billion mirrors our trade deficit. No one is able to stop the wild spending, the wild wars, the wild finances. All systems are set to run in the red, recklessly and to infinity. We should be cutting back on military spending while strengthening world alliances, not driving us all into a brick wall.
Iran does not nor ever has, directly menaced the USA, yet our nation is destroying everything in a futile attempt at destroying Iran. Even as the entire planet is yelling at us about global warming and air pollution, the US refuses to cooperate. Yet we are demanding the world cooperate in our plan to weaken and then destroy, Iran! The world's biggest nuclear power is demanding no nukes no matter what even as we expand our nuclear arsenal. Our allies, uncertain about their own economies, are cutting back on military spending while we are spending more even as our economy is in the worst shape than anyone else.
It is as if we are trying to go surfing when everyone is preparing to go skiing. So I sit here on my mountain, issuing warnings about the weather and the world moves forwards, making history every day. I hope everyone reading this news service is doing well. I pray that sanity returns and we get to work, shoveling the mountains of snow that will fall.