Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Straws in the Wind

The two massive power-outages in northern India, last Monday and Tuesday, initially affecting 300, then 600, and yesterday 680 million people for a day, ought to be seen as straws in the wind; and in this day and age, repeating that in other words, thus saying that these are “signs of things to come,” seems appropriate.

People like me are labeled Chicken Little, the chick famed for crying that the sky is falling. But the point is not so much to engage in doom and gloom but, rather, to suggest how the global and local environments are shaping. Aesop has a fable that applies with equal force. It is about the Grasshopper and the Ant. Now I looked high and low in folk tale archives, and I cannot there discover any allegory about the King Who Was Too Fat to Die—nor one about a deeply caring Mother Nature who sheltered darling little Capitalism under her shielding wing.

India is the second-largest nation in the world—and only partially developed. When things fail there, vast masses are involved. When Chicken Little grows up, it worries about physical maintenance, alternative forms of energy, and ways of husbanding what fuel resources remain. An example of that is to replace, to the extent possible, private with public transportation. Which reminds me to look up some data about railroads.

Okay. So people sat about in trains with gloomy faces. Okay. Some barbers cut hair by candle light. These two events lasted about, say, 30 hours in the aggregate. From the peaks of the United States of Grasshopper, the Indians are far away and tiny. Useful outsourcing targets, they, especially those in the big cities. Don’t worry your little feathery head, Chicken Little. Mighty Technology will come to rescue us—and them. When, finally, they get with the program and cut those evil taxes.

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