by michael on December 30, 2010

Moments ago I read about the substandard snow removal efforts by the New York City Sanitation Department during the blizzard of a few days ago. Lessons can be learned by those willing to learn them. This is from an article published in the New York Post,
Sanitation Department’s slow snow cleanup was a budget protest

“Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts — a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned.”

“They sent a message to the rest of the city that these particular labor issues are more important,”(budget cuts and layoffs) said City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens), who was visited yesterday by a group of guilt-ridden sanitation workers who confessed the shameless plot.”

An article in the December 29 issue of the New York Daily News stated that a baby was born – and died – in the lobby of a Brooklyn apartment building after its mother waited nine hours for police and fire personnel to respond to the mother’s emergency call.

The Daily News article was titled: Death of newborn baby among several blizzard tragedies as city is accused of ‘dropping the ball’ It is interesting—and dismaying—to ponder the ethics of the rhetoric used by the writer for and/or the editor of The Daily News.

The News uses tepid exculpatory language—dropping the ball—to describe what is in fact a methodical systematic conspiracy to deliver substandard performance during a blizzard, that is, during an event where it is known that the number of emergencies will increase and where it is known that the severity of an emergency will increase.

The phrase “dropping the ball” generally means an error, as in baseball, or refers to an oversight, but an oversight not done with malice or motivated by self-interested gain. The phrase is also often used when someone wants to avoid accountability—well, I guess I just dropped the ball, with the implication that everyone drops a ball from time to time.

The “dropping the ball” phrase is used similarly as is that offensive phrase, ‘falling through the cracks,’ whatever that means, which is also employed when someone wants to avoid responsibility. In this blizzard example, however, no ball was dropped by these sanitation workers or by their bosses or by the politicians that aid and abet them and who profit from them. This action was intentional. And the exonerating rhetoric used by the Daily News is repulsive.

I find it difficult to see how ethics and character training would have a beneficial influence on these city workers. These people did not act out of ignorance; they acted out of pernicious self-interest.

There is much cause for worry when the government that can take almost everything from you won’t even clean your streets. And, perhaps, a baby dies as a consequence.
More later

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