It’s been dubbed the Upside-down Winter: more snow to the south; less to the north. And there’s more on the way—about a foot more for the city of Philadelphia. Most of my work is done in isolation, so thankfully it doesn’t affect me as much, unless the bad weather comes on a show-face day. It does not in this particular case, but I cannot imagine what commuters have been going through this year.
Before settling in for the night, I bought more food-in-a-box—I’m a bachelor after all—and made sure there was sufficient caffeine to get me through the worst of the storm and then some. Last time I got exactly as much as I needed to deal with what was forecast, and then awoke to find out that the weathermen had underestimated by a good eight inches. Ah, well. If I had to predict the future I wouldn’t be so great either.
At a recent meeting of the Philadelphia Anarcho-Capitalists, one person observed that Philadelphia is a failed State. Anyone who didn’t believe him then must certainly believe him now, two-and-a-half snowstorms later. Earlier this month it took days to get side streets plowed out. In these situations the city constantly pleads its case that the workers are doing the best they can. Maybe they are, but if they are, that doesn’t speak well for the public ownership of road resources.
Some citizen complaints, too, were misplaced. Many erroneously believed that their street was not plowed properly, if at all. Often, however, the case was that the plows came, did the best job they could, and in the ensuing days deep icy ruts nonetheless formed, making safe driving impossible even at very slow speeds. This comes from people throwing snow back into the streets. I personally witnessed this, though anyone that lives in a place where snow is common will not have a hard time believing the story. Of course, all the officials—the mayor, the police commissioner, Santa Claus, and maybe even the Cardinal Archbishop—went on television to beg people not to throw snow back into the streets, but they did anyhow. The uniformed are chagrined at this. Why won’t people just listen to us? I have a theory: since the streets are owned by everyone, they’re effectively owned by no one; therefore, there is no incentive to take good care of them. The public ownership of the streets creates an animalistic world in which it is every man for himself, and oftentimes the most efficient solution for Johnny Q shoveling out his Hyundai is to throw the snow out into the driving lane. To hell with everyone who has to drive through this mess for the next week while we wait for temperatures to struggle their way back to forty degrees.
During one of the recent snowstorms I jokingly mused whether or not Locke’s theory of homesteading applied to digging a car out from two feet of snow, and if, therefore, people “owned” the parking spaces they had dug out. Does that much fluff render a parcel of land “previously unused?” Probably not—and please don’t take all this too seriously. But I suppose it’s a more fun way to get at the idea that only privately held property is conducive to order and peaceful cooperation. Tempers flared more than once in the past few weeks over parking spaces, and even public officials came to embrace an attitude that the space a resident dug out for himself should be respected.
In the wake of these storms, I did most of my traveling as a pedestrian or as a runner. Guess which sidewalks were in the worst shape. If you guessed the sidewalks adjacent to city and federal property, you would be correct. Private property: 3; public management of necessary resources: 0. Garbage pickup is also way behind schedule. Make it 4-0.
I am in the process of resting a weary Achilles tendon, so if it is going to snow, I say go ahead and get it over with. February already sucks anyhow. Being disappointed in February weather is like being put out with a politician. Surely we must know better.