Joe’s Journal

Problems and solutions

Ramblings from an old scribbler
Wed, 09/08/2021 - 7:15am

The tail end of Hurricane Ida deposited 1.8 inches of rain in the rain gauge hanging off my back deck.

That is a lot of rain in a day, but it was nothing compared to the deluge that Mother Nature dumped on New York City, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee, or New Orleans. After the rains ended, I measured the rainfall and dumped the rain gauge in a flower pot, and picked up a few sticks.

For the rest of the nation, it was not so easy. Many lost family members. The latest count is 60-plus. We mourn with their relatives and friends.

Some of those who survived saw their homes ground into toothpicks as the winds scattered pots and pans, tables and chairs, TV sets and dirty socks all over the neighborhood. Some pets just disappeared.

Insurance companies, who gleefully collected premiums and bragged of their good claim service, will be hard-pressed to follow up. I hope they will do the right thing. I fear they may not.

From the Big Apple to tiny country towns, our fellow Americans woke up to the task of rebuilding their homes, streets, villages, subways and electrical service. Oh, yes, they have to figure out how to pay the bills. Some who painted Uncle Sam as an oppressor and joked of his ineptitude may be forced to swallow their pride and ask for help from Congress, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the rest of the evil federal government.

When I think of New Orleans, I think of Mardi Gras and jazz music. I think of fun times, silly parades and a sort of Disneyland for grown-ups.

But Hurricane Ida slammed into one of the biggest oil and chemical production complexes in the world. We will soon feel the effects of the storm at our local gas stations. In the days after Ida, and before, after  Hurricane Katrina, we heard cries from people arguing the industrial complex should be moved. They said it should be sent to a place where there was no chance of industrial pollution.

But, Pilgrim, it ain’t that easy. It is a complex situation with lots of competing interests, ranging from the big industry to the little guy who runs a coffee shop outside the back gate.

You have factory executives, boards of directors, managers, foremen, craftsmen, union workers, non-union workers and freelancers depending on industrial paychecks. You have suppliers and truck drivers selling goods and bringing them in from all over the country. Yes, it is a long list of stakeholders. You have fishermen who fear their livelihood is threatened by pollution, not to mention the little guys who live in cottages or homes in a coastal town.

They all acknowledge the problem. But none of them has a magic wand. No one can yell “Shazam,” and make it go away.

No one can solve a complex problem by shouting a slogan, an insult, or picking up a ball bat and slamming some sense into this guy or that special interest group. Folks have to come together and figure out a solution that will be accepted by all.

Note, I used the word accepted. No one will win. No one will lose. The word is compromise. That is how grown-ups tackle complex problems. That is why I was puzzled last week when the federal government imposed a new set of regulations on our local lobstermen. The feds claim they are needed to slow the declining population of right whales, humpback whales and minke whales.

To do that, they are imposing strict regulations on the 8,500 American lobstermen.

And, you can check this for yourself, the greatest number of American lobstermen catch the bulk of the American lobsters from the waters off the coast of Maine. We know them. They are our friends, neighbors and relatives.

Everybody loves whales. Fishermen love them, too. Lots of folks from away come up here to buy a ticket on a tour boat just to spot a whale.

The only person I know who is not so fond of whales, especially humpback whales, owns an island off the tip of Southport Island that once was decorated with what was left of a very dead whale after a winter storm. But that is another story.

Back on point, no one wants to harm whales. But our lobstermen say the decline is not their fault. They have rights, too, in addition to families to feed and bills to pay.

Seems to me it is time for all sides to sit down and tackle a complex problem that all want to be solved. It will involve work and compromise.

But, in our current political climate, is this a novel idea?