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Storm

There’s a big wind out of the south this morning, with a foot or so of snow predicted over the coming week.

A few years ago, our kids gave my wife a set of wind chimes. I put them on a post in a protected spot south of the house and their random silvery tones are often the backdrop to my work. This morning it’s a nonstop symphony - one that does not bode well.

Bad weather usually comes from the northwest, and because of my family’s inability to stop planting trees, we have 500 feet of protection and shelter in that direction. We can hear the howling of a hard north wind, but it seldom causes much of a problem in our yard.

But because of our slough and the way the land drops off to the south, we only have about three trees blocking a southeast wind. I’m predicting a mess to clean up in a couple of days.

I’m not the only one that’s nervous. A long queue of birds has been taking turns at the birdfeeder all morning and the squirrels are churning their way through the fallen black walnuts. Everyone’s a little edgy and preparing as best they can.

I’m a fan of modern weather forecasting. When you live in a place where you can die just from going outside, it’s easy to appreciate accuracy in weather predictions. Truthfully, though, today I wouldn’t have needed Doppler radar or precision barometric pressure instruments to be a little anxious about what’s coming. As soon as I finish this, I’m headed out to start shutting various shed doors.

Preparing has me thinking about a presentation I heard about risk management. The speaker referenced The Gray Rhino, a book by Michele Wucker. Her point is that you often hear talk about Black Swan Events, something so random and rare that no one could see them coming. More often, the bad things that happen are not rare and random, but easily seen and avoidable, like a gray rhino charging across the savanna directly toward us. We just choose to ignore them until it’s too late.

I’m contemplating this because I wrote an editorial that I can’t seem to get published. The editorial is about the campaign for Speaker of the House. In case you haven’t been paying attention, the new Speaker of the House will be a Republican and Kevin McCarthy really wants the job. The problem is, to win, he needs basically all the Republicans to vote for him. But not everyone likes him, so he’s promising the moon to...well, to all of them, even the craziest ones. The consensus among the people who analyze these situations is that if McCarthy succeeds, we’ll spend two years until the next election doing nothing but talk about Hunter Biden’s laptop and how to give tax breaks to rich people. And even if those are the two issues you care about the most, with a Democratic Senate and President, nothing that matters will happen.

How is this okay? In what universe is it okay to spend two years NOT doing your job?

A study from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy listed 150 issues in which a majority of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats agree on a path forward. Big stuff - Social Security, Immigration, Police Reform - the list goes on and on. A whole herd of grey rhinos will be charging toward us, and we’ll spend the next two years ignoring them.

I suggested that we forget Kevin McCarthy and instead choose a Republican who believes in bipartisanship. Then some Republicans, and most Democrats, could vote him in and we’d spend two years working through the list of things we agree on while ignoring the crazy people.

A storm is coming our way, people. It may create a mess, but it doesn’t need to be a catastrophe.

Copyright 2022 Brent Olson

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