Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, March 21, 2014

View from the Cheap Seats

A slippery slope

Nobody hates winter weather more than me. I truly believe that. I have said it before, and I will say it again: Snow and ice serve no purpose in my life other than to stifle my business and allow those that work for my firm on a salary a paid day off. Like an electricity meter on the side of a house in the middle of the summer spinning as fast as it can, my overhead runs at full blast whether anyone is working or not. When winter weather hits, I go up to the office when I can, but I stay home when the roads are bad. It just seems like common sense.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a winter blast that brought our communities to their knees, if only for a couple of days. It was one of those storms that you knew was going to hit northern Arkansas and the bulk of Tennessee. The question was how far south the ice would get. The storm came and covered the top half of Arkansas. The roads became very treacherous, and they did so quickly. Most stayed home and off the streets; a few decided to brave the roads, and those on the interstate in northeast Arkansas were met with gridlock and an extended stay.

While we would all perform better with the benefit of hindsight, it amuses me that, in a time where politicians win elections by making promises of limiting the size of government, everyone gets upset when government is either not big enough or does not deploy sufficient resources to fix a problem as soon as they would like. It’s kind of like the idea that no one really wants an officer or a lawyer around unless he needs one. No one wants the government in his business until it suits his purpose.

I figure that, truth be told, when the weather is that bad, people should probably be staying at home or parked somewhere safely rather than risking the trip unless it is an emergency. Arkansas was on the southern tip of the storm, and no one knew it was going to hit exactly like it did.  Missouri and Tennessee knew they were going to get hit no matter what. Both of those states have much more winter weather than Arkansas, and are therefore better suited to handle the roads.  Winter weather hits in Arkansas, but not as often as up north. Unless we liberally spend money to make sure we never have bad roads when there’s a threat of bad weather, we’ll simply have to suffer through occasional traffic jams when Mother Nature fools us. Maybe the large trucks should be the first to stay off the roads when the weather is bad since they pose the most danger and are more likely to mess up the traffic.

There’s no question that I have limited expertise in this area, and would probably complain if I’d been stuck for hours on the interstate. However, I was not, and will not be unless I have something really important to do. Maybe those folks had an emergency, and had to risk the trip.  

If you venture out in that type of weather, you certainly have to accept the risk of such a thing happening.

If you want government to work for you, you have to remember that it costs money, and sometimes, the money that’s spent isn’t spent to help you individually. We have to be responsible, but we’re all in this together. I think that remembering that government is here to help people and is not automatically the enemy, while also recognizing that government cannot solve every problem, could go a long way to stopping the log jam that’s our American political system.

Now that the winter is surely past us, I can start looking for something else to complain about with regard to the weather. Although, it is Arkansas. As everyone that lives in Arkansas knows, if you don’t like the weather today, that’s okay – it’ll be different tomorrow. That’s especially true for those of us way up in the CHEAP SEATS!

Bill James is a co-founder of the James Law Firm with offices in Little Rock, Conway and Fayetteville, Arkansas. His primary area of practice is criminal defense.  He can be contacted at  Bill@JamesFirm.com