Saturday, June 12, 2010

The wealthy risk, we pay

So...if you're wealthy enough to teach your kids to sail--actually, not just sail, but sail solo, is it fair to the rest of us to allow them to risk something like sailing around the world just to set a record?

Abby Sunderland and her older brother both attempted (he completed) the feat. Abby's boat got caught in the Indian Ocean under sixty foot swells when her mast broke and the Coast Guards of multiple countries had to go out and save her. There were planes sent out and helicopters, boats and media, all to find out if the sixteen year old was alive.

But why? What was she planning to accomplish? Was it for the betterment of the world somehow, or just personal glory? I argue it was personal glory. And she failed. Not only did she fail, but numerous men and women had to risk their lives to go save her. Countries had to use resources better directed toward helping their own than toward helping a wealthy fame seeker who should never have been in those waters to begin with.

But, the wealthy will always take such risks, and we, as a collective whole, will continue to pay for their missteps and calculated fame grabs because that's how it works. They (those who have the wealth but not the integrity or intelligence) will continue to do as they like, and the rest of us will look on in awe and pay to clean up after them.


Anonymous Lee said...

I read that fancy personal GPS emergency-transponders have recently become a real problem as people are venturing into increasingly treacherous mountain hikes and relying on rescue workers to save them when they get stuck. So that's similar.

But actually, I disagree with your main point here: surely the girl's yacht-owning family has more than covered the costs incurred by the emergency services through the payment of their income taxes over the years, to say nothing of the benefits we all derive from their apparent productivity in the marketplace (presuming they came by their money honestly).

You are on stronger ground when you criticize their frivolous consumption, but I would shy away from saying some classes of citizens are not pulling their weight. Usually you hear that kind of talk used to criticize the very worst off, such as immigrants using emergency services without paying the taxes most other people do.

5:30 PM  

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