VOL. 10 | NO. 23 | Saturday, June 3, 2017
The Memphis News Editorial
Editorial: Memphis Storm Shows Power Encompasses More Than Lights
For about half of us the lights never went out and the air conditioning kept us constantly cool during the Memorial Day weekend. The food in the refrigerator didn’t go bad. We may not have even known there was more than a really strong thunderstorm until we saw the downed trees the next day.
At times like this, we are reminded how far technology has brought us from days when summers were just as hot but there was no air conditioning, and from nights when neighborhoods, even in urban areas, grew dark after the sun went down.
When our technology is working the way it should, we rarely think about it. And maybe we look back at those times before climate control, icemakers (crushed and cubed) and Wi-Fi in a nostalgic way. That vanishes like an ice cube in a skillet once we find ourselves uncomfortably close to the actual conditions of those times.
However, that is the time when we should remember and act on the best necessities of those times – like the need to know your neighbors and to help them, if for no other reason than the fact you could find yourself in the same situation at any moment.
Sometimes we forget that technology doesn’t control us. We control it – or at least we have the ability to do so. When we choose to not exercise that control, we lose sight of the enduring aspects of our society that transcend the advances we make technologically.
In an age of preventive maintenance as an operating philosophy, any downtime in the workplace is seen as a loss in productivity. Let’s use some of that downtime to consider needs that will remain long after the circuits are restored and the mountain of tree limbs has been mulched.
The response from officialdom is always going to be after the fact; that’s just the physics of these kinds of emergencies. And paperwork is a factor for the federal money that will come as a reimbursement for local money that has to be spent on the front end.
Here, too, the storm is a reminder that local government reserves aren’t just stacks of money accumulated because the number looks good on paper. Their purpose is occasions just like this, when cash flow means a rapid response for taxpayers.
In the interim, local leaders need to continue working through the paperwork and red tape it takes to mobilize the help only government can provide on this broad of a scale. The problem with SNAP benefits for those whose food went bad in the power outage should never have gotten to the point where there was a line wrapped around one of the local offices of the state Department of Human Services.
See what we mean about forgetting that our technology doesn’t control us? Neither should government red tape.