La Conchita

mudThe tragedy of La Conchita has dominated just about everybody’s thoughts in Ventura County the last few days, and it’s also been the subject of much discussion in the blogosphere.

There is nothing more tragic in these parts than the story of Jimmy Wallet, who lost his wife and three of his children to the massive mudslide while he went to the store to get ice cream. Wallet can be seen in this video trying desperately to find his family.

The blog takes on the disaster range from sympathy and curiosity to playing the blame game, and sometimes it’s the residents who get blamed:

The only person you can blame is you, yourself and no one else. So call Dial-A-Lawsuit and take God to court for putting you in the wrong line when brains were handed out. Just make sure that you spell check the word “idiot” before you file it or God won’t be the only one laughing.
And sometimes it’s the government:
I will bet that responsibility for these mudslides will be shirked. Which makes me wonder, why is there a disconnect between the responsibilities of the State and that of land developers. I think these fines levied against developers are a money-making racket for the State and cities, and that they only use environmental conservation as an excuse.

Must there always be somebody to blame?

The residents of La Conchita may or may not have taken fully into account the dangers they faced by living in the shadow of what is basically an overgrown sand dune, but I figure that’s their business. Now, you can argue, I suppose, that it’s our business, too, because taxpayers ultimately pay the price of rescue and recovery. But that’s what governments do and that’s why we pay taxes — it’s insurance against our own miscalculations as much as it is against acts of nature or the various cruelties of our fellow citizens. We pay taxes first and foremost to be protected. But in paying taxes, we don’t necessarily gain a carte blanche right to tell other people how and where to live.

The vital fact here isn’t that people choose to live in this dangerous place. It’s that ten people are dead, including four members of a man’s family. That’s why we should care.

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