Saturday, 10 November 2012

Power points I’m a bit late catching up with this, but it’s too good to pass over. Atlantic cities ran a piece by Will Doig about how New Yorkers got access to electricity to power their portable devices in the wake of hurricane Sandy: ‘In Midtown Manhattan, where the lights are still on, residents have strung extension cords out to their stoops.’ I’m surprised there weren’t more examples of civic mutual aid and self-help; perhaps they just remain undiscovered. The article goes on to ask whether city councils might not do more, hurricane or no, to facilitate access to power sources – crediting New York, in passing, with having installed ‘42 electrical outlets throughout Bryant Park, making it the first fully-wired public park in America’. So let’s turn to the comments, one or two of which reveal the tortuous brainlessness of the anti-public-service, Don’t-Tax-Me mentality. Some respondents feel the idea that a city’s authorities might help citizens to help themselves, by sorting access to electricity in a crisis, as unacceptable. No doubt they will reach for their guns in defence of the freedom not to help or share. These are real human beings, it seems, and probably have been educated: ‘Free fuel for our cars next?? Hell, let's be BOLD and just make EVERYTHING free, and available to everyone, all the time, without limits of any sort. Yeah, that's the ticket. Utopia, baby!’ According to one link provided in the comments section, it costs just 38 cents per year to charge an iPhone. Their convenience as devices for people to support one another in time of crisis is obvious. America’s real crisis is the proportion of people who do not understand collective value, being quite possibly in denial about state provision from which they have benefited. I witnessed this quite graphically in New York once with friends, when we saw a fire engine jammed in traffic, siren blaring: no one made the slightest effort to move out of the way, presumably determined that a publicly funded service meant for someone who was just unlucky wasn't going to delay them in their individual progress.

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