Ignorance is not bliss
One of the most endearing qualities of
Americans is their ability to take virtually everything in life for granted.
Then come the inevitable days of
reckoning, such as last week’s electricity blackout that nearly paralyzed 50
million people in the Northeast and upper Midwest and transformed their
lifestyle from kilowatt power to candle power.
"What happened?" they gasped with stunned
disbelief, assuming that electricity would always be there for lights,
appliances, cell phones, offices and whatnot while casually flicking a switch.
If average Americans wallow in blissful
ignorance, the same can be said of those responsible for guarding and
maintaining the nation’s infrastructure.
Intelligent, thorough studies have exposed
a national scandal of rotting bridges, cracked dams and highways, inadequate
airports, deteriorating air and water quality, unguarded transcontinental
petroleum pipelines, and, yes, a decrepit electric transmission grid—worthwhile
studies duly consigned to dusty shelves to be promptly ignored until the next
Americans also assumed their nation’s
commercial and technological supremacy was invincible—only to watch millions of
jobs vanish to overseas plants while household names of U.S. products were
eclipsed by brands made in Japan and Germany and China.
The world’s most envied lifestyle cannot
be regarded with this casual indifference or taken for granted. Americans must
take a greater interest in public policy decisions, even dull as they often are,
and demand the same greater attention and responsible management by those who
now are inclined to ignore warnings until the lights literally go out.