It Wasn't Two Inches Of Snow That Crippled The South

Nov 2012
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Article: An Austerity Storm Hammers Georgia | OpEdNews





Americans are surrounded by examples of the extent to which the austerity compulsion has twisted the thinking of elected officials.

December's budget "compromise" failed to extend unemployment benefits, not just Republicans but many Democrats just voted for a Farm Bill that cuts aid for the hungry, states across the country are proposing to spend revenue surpluses on tax breaks for the rich and Detroit is trying to come up with a plan to avoid having to sell off its art museum.

But there will be no better example of how the austerity mindset warps the understanding of what government can and should be doing than the explanations Georgia officials are peddling for their failure to respond in a rational manner to warnings that their state was about to experience a winter storm.

Instead of taking reasonable precautions such as closing schools, preparing major thoroughfares and highways, ordering truckers to use tire chains and imposing basic traffic-control measures, they allowed a nightmare scenario to play out.

With reports of deaths, thousands of stranded motorists, children stuck on school buses and trapped in schools, and commerce ground to a halt, the Associated Press was describing the Atlanta metro area as "Exhibit A for how a Southern city could be sent reeling by winter weather that, in the North, might be no more than an inconvenience."

But what happened in Atlanta has more to do with the austerity mindset than snow and ice.

Weather forecasters did their job; the National Weather Service warned a day before the storm that snow on Atlanta-area roads "will make travel difficult." And at 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, the weather service issued a winter storm warning that cautioned against travel except in emergencies.

Yet Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed took few of the precautionary steps that might be expected. Instead, they both attended a Tuesday afternoon event honoring Reed as the "2014 Georgian of the Year."

At the same time the politicians were celebrating, the roads were beginning to gridlock into a mess that would eventually bring the region -- "home to major corporations and the world's busiest airport" -- to a standstill.

Why? Deal first attempted to blame the forecasters, suggesting that it was unclear where exactly the "unexpected storm" would hit. But the storm wasn't unexpected or unpredicted. It is almost always unclear precisely where storms will hit. The job of officials is to err on the side of caution, as lives and livelihoods are at stake.

Unless, of course, those officials are operating with an austerity mindset in which their biggest fear is not chaos but accusations that they might expend dollars that do not need to be spent -- or that the officials are somehow failing to make the service of big business their highest priority.

"I would have acted sooner, and I think we learn from that and then we will act sooner the next time," announced Deal, who made a similar promise after failing to prepare for a 2011 storm. "But," the governor added, "...we don't want to be accused of crying wolf.

Because if we had been wrong, y'all would have all been in here saying, 'Do you know how many millions of dollars you cost the economies of the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia by shutting down businesses all over this city and this state?'"

Reasonable people can, and do, disagree about the role of government. But when we have politicians like Deal, who is up for re-election this year, "explaining" a failure to make basic emergency preparations by saying they didn't want to be accused of harming commerce, the austerity mindset has taken hold.

And it is not just trumping common sense, it is failing citizens, communities and the very businesses that misguided politicians like Nathan Deal say that they seek to serve.
 

RNG

Forum Staff
Apr 2013
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La La Land North
How in the hubs of hell is the incompetence of the elected officials in any way connected to austerity. What a totally ridiculous pile of stinking, festering crap.

If they had more tax revenue to piss away they'd be able to make better decisions? How much do you need to increase taxes to tell the schools to close?
 
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Jun 2012
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Barsoom
What a stupid article. Skews is scraping bottom for relevance.

This had nothing to do with austerity, Republicans, the south, etc. This was a very rare storm for this area of the country. Southern states are not equipped for the very rare winter storms such as this, and only a left wing, liberal, communist would blame it on not spending millions of dollars on equipment that might be used once every decade.

Go burn an American flag, burn a Bible, and punch a pregnant woman in the stomach you apparatchik weirdo.
 
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Dec 2013
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Beware of watermelons
Go burn an American flag, burn a Bible, and punch a pregnant woman in the stomach .
As I finished my bonfire of religious documents and nationalist memrabilia cleaning the tears from the faces of abused mothers in waiting I think to myself "how could this have helped anything?"

They had 24 hours notice and it was under six inches of snow. Are we to feel bad for these people?

"I'm not saying kill all the stupid people, just remove the warning labels and let things sort themselves out"
- anonymous
 
Jun 2013
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Ohio
I can't agree with you on this skews. It would be foolish to spend millions to buy equipment that is only needed one day every 5 years. They should have closed schools and government offices the night before and urge businesses to do the same. They also should have had a plan in place to empty various parts of the city in one hour increments instead of everyone hitting the streets at the same time. It was a lack of preparation and not austerity that created that mess.
 
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Barsoom
As I finished my bonfire of religious documents and nationalist memrabilia cleaning the tears from the faces of abused mothers in waiting I think to myself "how could this have helped anything?"

They had 24 hours notice and it was under six inches of snow. Are we to feel bad for these people?

"I'm not saying kill all the stupid people, just remove the warning labels and let things sort themselves out"
- anonymous
No, but it only has political value to idiots.
 
Nov 2006
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Wilmette. Illinois
I cannot agree with this, either. People in many southern states have about as much experience and knowledge of dealing with snow and ice storms as those people in Hawaii . Yes, what happened in Atlanta was a travesty- no argument there. Yes, goverment officials should have closed schools at the very least.
But that is just inexperience; not austerity that caused that. Like many issues in life; we learn by experience- the good as well as the bad.
I'd be willing to bet that that should another snow and ice storm come forecast for Georgia or any such southern state; government officials will be willing to close schools, government offices, and the like! This is not a political party issue; just a geograhical issue and a preparedness plan issue. Yes, I agree fully that a couple of inches of snow and ice here in the North is nothing more than an inconvenience- we're used to it!
 
Dec 2013
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19,372
Beware of watermelons
I cannot agree with this, either. People in many southern states have about as much experience and knowledge of dealing with snow and ice storms as those people in Hawaii . Yes, what happened in Atlanta was a travesty- no argument there. Yes, goverment officials should have closed schools at the very least.
But that is just inexperience; not austerity that caused that. Like many issues in life; we learn by experience- the good as well as the bad.
I'd be willing to bet that that should another snow and ice storm come forecast for Georgia or any such southern state; government officials will be willing to close schools, government offices, and the like! This is not a political party issue; just a geograhical issue and a preparedness plan issue. Yes, I agree fully that a couple of inches of snow and ice here in the North is nothing more than an inconvenience- we're used to it!
It's not like it's 1920 tho. A phone call or an Internet search could have answered any questions they may have had on how to deal with this "storm" I'm not on with the fact that they should just have a snowplow team on call for the off chance that they may be needed but someone please explain what the job of the government is. They cannot handle money or act instead of react. This is not a red/blue thing it's a government not having the ability to govern.
 
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Jun 2012
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It's not like it's 1920 tho. A phone call or an Internet search could have answered any questions they may have had on how to deal with this "storm" I'm not on with the fact that they should just have a snowplow team on call for the off chance that they may be needed but someone please explain what the job of the government is. They cannot handle money or act instead of react. This is not a red/blue thing it's a government not having the ability to govern.
You should run for office on this platform: never held public office; never worked in disaster; never worked in logistics; but in the event of a natural or man-made disaster, rest assured I will immediately make an Internet search or make a phone call to save the day.

I think the biggest problem with Hurrican Sandy was the governor not making that call or an Internet search.