The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Paralyzed by Snow and Political Choices

Feb 1, 2016

Area schools have been shut down for a week, fire trucks have gotten stuck on snow-covered streets while houses burn. Federal government offices were closed for three days. Metro was shut down totally for four days and is still running on limited service. Road capacity, severely reduced, caused huge traffic jams. We are told this is because of a historic snow storm. News flash: winter comes around every year and snow is not some new, strange element. Yet, every time it snows, the Baltimore and D.C. area lets this happen.

Yes, it was a lot of snow. But, the National Weather Service was predicting this storm with high confidence on Monday. So authorities had an unprecedented amount of time to prepare. Instead, they told us to prepare. Prepare to lose power, prepare to be stuck in our homes for days on end. In other words, the governors and mayors were admitting, in advance, that they were not choosing to dig us out for days.

They made a choice of where and how to spend taxpayer money and that choice had nothing to do with our lives and livelihoods. Could they have made different decisions? Yes. They could have. Is it possible to recover more quickly from a snow storm? Yes. But it would require society being organized on a totally different basis than it is right now.

Digging out from under the snow is not an individual problem. Clearing hundreds of miles of roads – this a social problem. It requires a social solution. Asking individuals to dig themselves out or prepare to be stuck in their homes for days on end is crazy. This country has lots of resource but they are used to defend and promote the profits of corporations. One major resource, the military and National Guard, is scattered around the globe defending the interests of big money.

What would it have meant if those resources had been enlisted in combating the snow, for example? Choices are made every day by government officials, choices that affect every aspect of our lives. Their choices are not made in favor of ordinary people.