Great civilizations seldom fall to foreign invaders. Because it’s not a simple matter to walk in and take over a great nation. And especially one like ours which is bounded by two oceans and has more guns than citizens.

On the other hand, there’s plenty of proof – from San Bernardino to Fort Hood — that a combination of our porous border and an enemy like ISIS has wreaked havoc. We have the power to defeat Isis but we also have two problems: 1) Obama, and 2) a government so big, bloated, and strength-sapping that on an average day it can’t whip much of anyone.

And I’m not just talking about government in Washington. After spending the last few years in the General Assembly, I have to admit government foibles aren’t limited to our nation’s capital. Here’s an example:

14 years ago, during a big storm in Hickory, the biggest sinkhole in North Carolina opened up beside U.S. Highway 70 and swallowed some fellow’s new Corvette. Which made national news – for about 15 minutes.

A decade and a half later the reporters are long gone. But the sinkhole is still there.

Which is creating a couple of problems: First, the sinkhole’s blocking the storm drainage system which simple engineering says will result in floods during big storms. And, second, eventually those blockages and floods will destroy the area’s entire storm sewer system.

Now if that sinkhole was in some out of the way cow pasture somewhere, it would be one thing. But when it floods a 5-lane U.S. highway through a major commercial corridor that problem is a little more serious.

Over the last 14 years, state government and local governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to give incentives to private corporations, to pay for public recreation facilities, and to build parking lots.

But at the same time the State of NC, with a $22 billion budget, and the City of Hickory, with a $100 million budget, have been unable to find $3 million to fix that sinkhole – and $3 million is roughly the damages suffered by a local business due to floods during the last big storm in Hickory in July.

Private business can build their own parking lots. And they can provide recreation facilities galore. And, for years, businesses in North Carolina prospered without government incentives.  But what the private sector cannot do is build and maintain an entire community’s basic infrastructure. That’s government’s responsibility.

I’m not sure how we fix all the political problems in Washington. Or in Raleigh. Or Hickory. But one way to start would be by asking a simple question: Why, after fourteen years, is that sinkhole still there?


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