Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Snownership Society

Stifle this talk of "ownership" and "privatizing," and how the private sector does the job better than government. Allow me to share something the rest of the nation can learn from Chicago before throwing Social Security to the dogs.

Walk a few Chicago blocks in the days following a snowstorm. You'll notice a big difference between city and public property in the level of safe and easy travel.

Park sidewalks, city property and streets: shoveled and plowed. Always? Almost. Promptly? Usually. Done well? Surprisingly often.

Stores and private businesses: icy and poorly shoveled. Always? No. Often? Yes. Incompletely cleared? Oh, yes.

The reasons for this slippery schism, which came to me in hot mental vomit after I nearly threw my dick out on a patch of storefront ice, are simple and twofold.

One. The city budgets money for snow removal. Men and women who do snow removal are paid decently (too well, some might say) and it is their JOB. Likely to have protected jobs, they probably feel more secure in their jobs, knowing exactly the boundaries they'd have to cross in order to lose it. Their job, for which they are paid and have time to do, is removing snow.

Whereas, one would imagine, the UPS Store employee opening the store alone at 0800 probably has precious little time to also run outside and shove a pile of wet heart attack around, while the SUV throng stands around shrieking to see a manager if their returns don't go out this hot fucking minute.

Two. There is a reason that cities budget money for snow removal. Political patronage jobs to throw around, you say. Absolutely. No argument there. But shut up anyway.

Snow clearing is not only necessary to a city's operation, but a city doesn't like to see old folks slip and kill themselves. It makes the city look bad. People would stop moving there. Then they wouldn't be buying things like ridiculous permits allowing you to park the car you own.

More than that, buried beneath all that, there's a vestigial reason that cities send out the shovels and plows. People of the burgh Expect and Demand it.

Businesses' primary motivation to shovel and plow (make products safe, emit less waste, not kill people) is to Keep From Getting Sued.

We used to live in an E&D society. Bit by bit, we're being trained to accept substitutes who give us only enough to KFGS.

Today's FOCR: "Gotta' Plow That Snow," James Coffey, Lots & Lots of Trucks

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