Power Outage 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Readers of this column will know that last week my wife and I, thank God,
married off our eldest child. What they may not know are the conditions we
endured for several days prior to the wedding when a freak snow storm caused a
power outage in our home town of Englewood, New Jersey, and much of the
We were preparing for a wedding with a house filled with
relatives from around the world who, freezing with no heat, light, or phones,
thought America was a third world country. Compounding that feeling were the
dilapidated roads, like Interstate 95 – one of the America’s premier highways –
that passes near our home and that is so full of potholes and is perennially
under construction so it is reminiscent a war zone like Kandahar. Add to that
the staggering traffic in New York City, where it can take 30 minutes just to go
around a city block, and my Australian, European and Israeli relatives came to
the conclusion that America is teetering on the brink.
We were fortunate
that, although the beautiful Rockleigh Country Club where the wedding was held
itself lost power, internal generators allowed us to proceed with a magnificent
wedding. But a few relatives who were supposed to stay for the seven days of
celebration that traditionally follow a Jewish wedding left in the morning hours
after the ceremony swearing they could no longer endure the freezing conditions
to which our area of the country subjected them. They were right.
freak snow storm in October is a challenge.
But this is the third
multi-day power outage we’ve had in about half a year. These could have been
easily avoided if our town had made the investment to run the power lines under
ground where they belong, where trees can’t knock them out of commission and
where they can’t dangle and kill small children, as tragically happened in our
area in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.
But although we have nearly the
highest property taxes in America, our town can barely afford to fix its own
streets, let alone move power lines underground. Most New York and New Jersey
municipalities spend upwards of $23,000 per public school student and are locked
into such expensive union contracts that they simply don’t have the funds to
upgrade infrastructure. The roads in the New York metropolitan area are a
disaster zone and will remain that way indefinitely.
While the world
reads daily about America’s high unemployment rate and a staggering national
debt that just about equals its GDP, what they don’t see is the dilapidated
state of America’s infrastructure or the nightmare traffic jams in all its big
cities. But government has spent so much money on so many wasteful and
ineffective social programs that the funds to stop America from crumbling simply
Truth be told, we should by now all be sick of just
complaining about the problems. The last thing America needs is more armchair
pundits or television talking heads. It’s time we all did something about
WHEN I was a guest on the Glenn Beck Program a few weeks ago, he gave
his version of the Ten Commandments, one of which was the obligation to run for
elective office if you see your country suffering and more worthy candidates
than yourself do not exist. This is probably what America most needs:
courageous, principled, visionary and determined citizens unseating the
do-nothing class of politicians who watch America crumble by the day yet
continue to waste our hard-earned money on efforts that yield few
But anyone who has watched what has happened to Herman Cain the
past few days will understand why few choose to run and we continue to see
mediocrity in the political classes. We’re all human and fallible and most
people have things in their past of which they’re not proud. The last thing they
want is to be crucified by the media for previous mistakes.
Cain harassed women of course it should not be overlooked. These are serious
allegations and the American people deserve to know that they are electing
dependable, good and honest people.
But if we lived in a society that had
proper values, including that of forgiveness, then Cain and many like him – if
the allegations against them are true – could get up in front of the public,
admit their mistakes, request forgiveness, change their ways and run for office.
The fear, however, is that the political climate is so fractured, the public so
polarized, the media so hungry for blood, that anyone courageous enough to tell
the truth and ask to be pardoned for past sins so that they could serve their
country would be dragged through the mud and humiliated.
Bill Clinton – seen as flawed yet effective – remain highly popular, as does the
memory of other seriously blemished men like Thomas Jefferson, Franklyn
Roosevelt and John Kennedy.
America has to make a decision. Does it want
the “perfection” of a Barack Obama, who rarely stumbles but lacks the grit to
get American out of the morass of crushing debt and joblessness, or does it want
men and women who can dig us out of the muck but who have dirt under their
fingernails? The weekly Torah portion cycle is currently in the book of Genesis.
It is a fascinating narrative of incredible men and women who achieved great
things while simultaneously guilty of serious error, from Adam and Eve’s eating
of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden to Jacob favoring Joseph over his
other children and the tragic consequences that followed. Yet, these were men
and women who built whole nations, serving as patriarchs and matriarchs. The
moral of the story: righteousness is defined not by perfection but by wrestling
with one’s nature to serve the public good amid one’s undeniable
defects.The writer has just published
Ten Conversations You Need to Have
with Yourself and will shortly publish