Beyond talk

By Todd Cohen

Society cannot predict when or where the worst in nature or human nature will strike, but we need to prepare to deal with disaster and to right social wrongs.

Disasters trigger calls for better planning, yet government cannot move beyond talking about planning, and we avoid the tough decisions and serious investment that planning requires.

The 9/11 commission documented countless acts of individual heroism that saved thousands of lives in the terrorist attacks, and the communication breakdown that likely failed to save thousands more from death and injury.

The attacks did trigger new national, state and local emergency plans, but we still are not prepared.

If an inch of snow can paralyze a community like it did in North Carolina in January, imagine the impact of a terrorist attack at a hospital or shopping mall, or on systems that control telecommunications, electric power, water and traffic.

For all its talk, government leadership has been missing in action. Unprepared and poorly led, we are prey to the crushing social problems that afflict us, and to disasters that await us.

Until we confront and create plans to fix what is wrong, and invest in needed remedies, social progress will remain a dream.

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