'Snow-cialism' Rears Its Head in Baltimore

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There is a silver lining to every snowstorm — getting to know your neighbors, both good and bad. With 40 inches on my block last month, I’ve learned a lot about my neighbors — and, strangely enough, socialism.

My corner of Baltimore, Mount Vernon, seems like a good place to ride out a storm. After all, innumerable cars are plastered with Obama bumper stickers, and windows display signs like "Universal Healthcare Now." In essence, it’s a very liberal neighborhood in an extremely liberal state. What better neighborhood to be in times of need, right?

The architecture ranges from early 19th to early 20th century row homes, which as a result demands parallel parking. This isn’t a great inconvenience most of the time, but with the snow, it’s an absolute nightmare. First the clouds drop 40 inches. Then the city snow plow piles another mountain from the street onto your car.

Successfully liberating the vehicle from its icy prison can take hours. After leaving the spot, anyone can take the laboriously freed space. Restoring regular parking conditions quickly requires everyone chipping in for the common good.

During this street clearing process, my neighbors sorted themselves into four groups, according to my highly unscientific observation:

  • The Saint (1 percent of the neighborhood). Every couple of blocks resides a truly amazing human being, living to serve others. He’s shoveling out his neighbors’ cars, dumping bags of rock salt down the whole street, and passing out shovels like he owns a hardware store.
  • The Good Citizen (15 percent of the neighborhood). A caring person doesn’t just shovel enough snow to drive away. He carves out the front and back. After leaving his spot, someone else can parallel park without digging. If everyone did this, normal parking would resume in a day — if not less.

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Vedran Vuk [send him mail] has a bachelor degree of economics from Loyola University of New Orleans, and was a 2006 Summer Fellow at the Mises Institute. He is an analyst with Casey Reserach and lives and works in the D.C. area.

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