SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Drainage (and the purpose of government)
By Dustin Hofeling


July 28, 2010

Living in a rain forest, drainage is a problem we all have to face sooner or later. I live on Deer Mountain Court, which is a road that has been forever plagued by drainage problems. I plan to put to fix the drainage issue on my property - what home owner wouldn't want to do this? But it will do no good unless the city fixes the drainage issue on the street that they built and paved.

During the "summer," huge puddles of water form on the street, and the pot holes grow to nearly a foot deep. During the "winter," huge ice sheets develop which make it impossible to walk down the street. There are a lot of kids in the neighborhood. I've seen many people fall and get hurt. Now that I have a pregnant wife and a little one coming, I am more concerned than ever.

The City of Ketchikan's two excuses are 1) it's not in the budget and 2) the road was built poorly. I will address the first item shortly. Per the second item, if I used the excuse at work that I couldn't fix something that I poorly built, I wouldn't last long. Why did the city permit and build this road in the first place? I am not perfect, but I believe in the principle of doing something right the first time. If you make a mistake, fix it. Now on to the first item.

When our country was founded there was extensive debate over the role of government. The Federalist and Republicans came quickly came into being. The debate over the purpose (and size) of government has been boiling ever since. I was recently in Washington, DC, and it was such a pleasure visiting all of the museums on the mall. My grandmother was very happy that all of the museums and bathrooms were free to the public. I was of a different mind. The government's job is not to entertain us. We should have been charged to enter all of those wonderful museums. By charging us, the government could free up tax dollars for other purposes, and collect needed revenue to make the museums even nicer.

Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence that our unalienable rights are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Governments are instituted to "secure" these rights, not provide them. The same argument applies to the city. Infrastructure and safety needs come before wants and aesthetics. Now what I am about to say may cause a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. But shouldn't the city put infrastructure that promotes safety before such expenditures as a new library, pool or skate park? Sure, I would love to see a dog park, my dog is begging for one as I type. However, as Maslow's Hierarchy no doubt demonstrates, basic and safety needs come before psychological and self-actualized needs.

I implore the city to do the right thing and fix the drainage issue on this road. If it can't be done now, plan for it in the future. If the city refuses to keep public property safe, then what purpose does the city government serve? Keeping one street safe while not another reminds me very much of the neglect for grievances by the crown to the colonies. Maybe Jefferson was right when he said that governments should be cast off after "a long train of abuses and usurpations" prove their worthlessness?

Dustin Hofeling
Ketchikan, AK


Received July 27, 2010 - Published July 28, 2010



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