A blackout IS a big deal, Kos

I usually agree with Kos; his political insight, along with the cogency of argument presented by his guest bloggers and commenters makes him one of my “must-reads” each day. But today, in his piece entitled “Blackout? What’s the big deal?“, Kos is way off the mark.

He argues that growing up in El Salvador in the middle of that country’s civil war during the late 70s, blackouts were common and no big deal. During the recent blackout, he says,

[e]ssential services (like hospitals) were on generators, and for everything else, about the worse that could happen was food spoiling in the refrigerator…

There’s a certain amount of truth in there, but its mainly because the 50 million people affected by the blackout were lucky. As MickeyinCT, one of Kos’ commenters, points out:

What if there was a thunderstorm (gawd knows we’ve had a bunch this year), and thousands of people are exposed outside and get sick? What if this was a transit strike in February or a terrorist event in December, and we were stuck out in the cold?

We all saw the pictures yesterday morning of the hundreds of people sleeping on the steps of the Post Office, or on the sidewalks in front of the hotels they’d paid for. Where would the city have put the million or so people who come into Manhattan every day for work or play if it had been a typical winter’s night with icy winds blowing down the urban canyons? What if it had gone on for two weeks like the recent Memphis blackout? What would have happened if the blackout occurred during a massive heatwave like the one which has killed at least 3000 people in France?

Just because the power situation is worse elsewhere, doesn’t mean the people affected by Thursday’s blackout are “soft” whiners. My parents, my sister, many of my friends and in-laws were affected by the blackout, and most of them agreed that it was more an inconvenience than anything else. They didn’t whine, but my father, who lived through the ’65 blackout, wants to know how this once-in-a-lifetime event just happened again.