Monday, January 10, 2011

Tread on me all you want

Since yesterday afternoon, it has been snowing in Springfield. According to local meteorologists, the snowfall hasn't yet peaked. Leaving work last night, my feet crunched over the powdery white blanket that was the parking lot. In the wake of a fresh snowfall, every step and every tire track gets chronicled like a natural, giant Etch-A-Sketch. Fresh, white snow also has a way of lighting up the night sky to where it looks almost like dawn all through the night. Not that I'd ever do or condone it, but you could almost drive without headlights on nights like these.

Then there's road snow. Troublesome enough in its pure form, road snow is even worse when first mixed with the road salt that helps melt it off the road. Try taking a turn in it too fast, or apply your brakes at a normal pace, and you'll discover performance quirks you never knew your car even had. On top of all that, road snow is not even pretty to look at — it most closely resembles a graphite-flavored Slush Puppie that you left out in an igloo for too many years.

Give the process some time, however, the roads look and drive great, with all gross sludge piled aside. After I'd been on the main drag for a while, inching ever so closer to home, a city shovel truck passed in the other direction. And I got to thinking about the recent anti-government movement. And how poorly thought-out it is even among its most fervent adherents.

I don't agree necessarily, but I can see the attraction some people have to the notion of not paying any taxes, or not having federal government oversight over anything but national defense, or not having local government in your backyard and so on. Many of these people will tell you that it's individual genius and private enterprise that make the world go round, and that government only hampers things.

But that's in a vacuum. On the road, I'm glad to see the city at work in the middle of the night. They're most likely saving lives and they're most definitely meeting a need. And they're doing it without demanding exorbitant costs of everyone who drives by. It's one of those little, yet major, machinations of public interest that few think about when calling for drowning government in the bathtub.

But tonight, it's a big, big benefit.

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