Snow plows. Examples of bloated government?

photo by Eric Bond

I was planning to write about politics this month, but all I can think about is snow.  As I write this, filthy piles of it still line the road, trickling away at a pace that suggests that it may not be gone by June.

Maybe some people enjoyed our Snowcation, Snowpocalypse, Snowmageddon, but for most of us, it was much more like a hurricane or other natural disaster than a delightful winter treat.  Even if we didn’t lose power–I didn’t–the fear that it would go out and leave us desperately trying to stay warm while marooned by giant drifts gave some of us terrible claus-snow-phobia. 

When we finally hacked our way out of our igloos, we emerged with snow stories to tell our associates in warmer climates and, if we had any sense, a renewed respect for the power of Mother Nature.  (Remember that 1970s commercial for Chiffon margarine?)

My husband spent days with a rusty shovel, tunneling through the walls
of ice that the snow plows created every time they came through.  When
he finished tunneling, the plow would inevitably return and wall us in
again.  On one of his successful forays, he emerged on our street to
find some pedestrians trudging by, having a lively conversation that he
couldn’t help overhearing.

“Global warming!” one of them said. “Ha!”

“Yeah,” said the other, adding, “Al Gore.”  They both burst out laughing.

My husband interjected, “But when you have a fever, you shiver, don’t you?” 

looked back at him, scratched their heads, and continued down the
street, no doubt wondering who that strange hooded character making
inscrutable, Yoda-like remarks was.  For the next several days, my
husband thought of wittier, more accessible things he might have said
to them, but by that time they were long gone.

As the snow began to melt, articles, such as one in Time magazine (“Another Blizzard?  What Happened to Global Warming?”
began to emerge pointing out that the term “global warming” actually
denotes “climate change,” and that suddenly having 80 inches of snow in
a region that has received rather light snowfalls in recent years could
be construed as a strange deviation from the norm, but by that time,
the idea that global warming was a myth concocted by crooked British
scientists had taken hold of the popular imagination (if my rightwing
Facebook friends’ posts are any indication), and the snow had set
environmental causes back at least a decade. 

But wait, I’m not writing about politics.  I’m writing about snow.
I mentioned, not only did my power stay on during the worst of the
snowstorm, but my internet, too, functioned beautifully, enabling me
not only to continue teaching my online classes but also to play
endless games of Wordscraper and to randomly Google when the fancy
One person I couldn’t help Googling during the Snowpocalypse
was Grover Norquist, the anti-tax, anti-government conservative who
famously said, “I don’t want to abolish government.  I simply want to
reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown
it in the bathtub.” 

The organization he heads, the advocacy
group Americans for Tax Reform, opposes taxes and government, as well
as “cap and trade,” the legislative method designed to reduce carbon
emissions and thus halt climate change.  Because of his desire to
reduce the size of government by half and then by half again, he favors
the “starve-the-beast” strategy in which tax cuts and budget deficits
cripple the power of the government, thereby drowning it in a bathtub.
(Those generous Bush-era tax cuts were a key facet of this approach.)
Americans for Tax Reform has its offices on 12th St., N.W., in DC, I
figured Norquist must live in the Washington metro area.  How was he
faring during the Snowmageddon? I wondered as I read his Wikipedia
entry.  Was he out there shoveling every hour the way we were? 

to the District Department of Transportation website, the average
annual snowfall in the District is 15 inches, which this year’s
snowfall has already far exceeded.  DC had spent 2/3 of its annual snow
budget in December, thinking that was going to be it.  I had heard on
the radio that they were having serious snow-budget issues. 

looked up Grover Norquist in the online White Pages and found several
DC addresses that seemed to be his various workplaces.  I wondered if
he was fighting his way down K Street every day, Dr. Zhivago-like,
through enormous snowdrifts.  I wondered if when the municipal
snowplows came to his street, he turned them away, waving his arms and
shouting, “Go away!  Go drown yourselves in a bathtub!”

These are the kinds of things being snowbound for a week will cause to caper through one’s mind.

don’t know how long we were trapped in the house–maybe a week, though
it seemed like years.  But finally, we got out, and life went back to
normal, more or less.

But I’m left pondering the fate of Grover
.  Grover, if you’re reading this, please write and tell me how
you got out of your driveway.  I’m assuming you grabbed a shovel and
dug your whole street out by yourself.
Next month, back to politics.

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About the Author

Abby Bardi
Takoma Park expatriate Abby Bardi explores the wickedness of modern life in her Voice column, "Sin of the Month." Born and raised in Chicago, Abby has worked as a singing waitress in Washington, D.C., an English teacher in Japan and England, a performer on England’s country and western circuit, and, most recently, as a professor at Prince George’s Community College. Author of "The Book of Fred," (Washington Square Press: Simon & Schuster 2001), she is married with two children and lives in Ellicott City, Maryland.