BUZ LIVINGSTON: Location, location, location and good government

Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 05:18 PM.

As luck would have it we missed what will be forever known as the Great Fourth of July Deluge. Rarely does Houston, Texas, in July beat 30A, but anyone who ventured from the Bayou City to our environs should have stayed home. Like Meade at Gettysburg and being a survivor of the Great Flint River Flood of 1994 I made a point to choose high ground in Blue Mountain Beach.

Floods often change landscapes and uncover things hidden just below the surface — for better or worse. After Flint River waters receded in 1994, city workers discovered an old skeleton dating back to the late 1800s. For decades some poor bloke lay alone in a shallow grave, a lead slug testimony to his demise.   

The Great Fourth of July Deluge eroded standard libertarian dogma also.

The torrential downpour caused a dike on the Intercoastal Waterway connecting North Bay and Choctawhatchee Bay to fail. Ink was still drying on the Constitution when Congress passed and George Washington signed the Northwest Ordinance defining future use of the natural navigation, transportation and communication routes. This far-sighted legislation recognized the benefits federally supported navigation projects bring to an economy. 

Thus all repairs to the waterway will be tasked to the United States Coast Guard and The Corps of Engineers. I am from the government and I’m here to help, hahahaha.

To this day, no tolls are charged on Intercoastal Waterway barges but in 1980 Congress enacted barge fuel surcharges to minimize taxpayer costs.  The current 20 cents per gallon levy has remained unchanged for eighteen years or the 1995 equivalent of less than twelve cents. Taxpayers pick up the balance and not adjusting the barge tax subsidizes large corporations. 

The holiday weekend saw another hole poked in standard small government meme. Pesky regulations played a role in minimizing fatalities when the Asiana Airlines flight tragically crashed in San Francisco. According to Steve Wallace, former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) accident investigation chief, many people survived crashes 30 years ago but died in the post-crash fire. Regulations were tightened so passengers could exit planes quicker. Even if half the exits are blocked, planes are designed for passengers to escape within 90 seconds.  Per FAA guidelines, plane interiors now consist of less flammable material.

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