The Problem With Atlanta

Speaking as someone who has lived in both cold weather and warm weather environments (including Atlanta), and speaking only for myself, I have to say I’m rather enjoying watching Atlantans cope, or more precisely, not cope, with the little snowstorm that paralyzed the Atlanta metro area a couple of days ago. To me, though, it has nothing to do with an inability to drive in harsh conditions: in my time in Atlanta as a professional driver I had to deal with some of the most selfish drivers in the country, I can say for a fact that their inability to drive has nothing to do with weather conditions. The truth is, no one in any city can drive on ice no matter how good or bad a driver you are. Not changing your driving habits, well, that just comes with the territory.

No, the reason I’m enjoying watching them collapse under a couple of inches of snow is because it’s something they could have easily avoided if the entire philosophy of the Atlanta metro area wasn’t “you’re on your own”. Also “fuck everyone else”. What happened in Atlanta this week, writes Rebecca Burns, is not a matter of Southerners blindsided by unpredictable weather. More than any event I’ve witnessed in two decades of living in and writing about this city, this snowstorm underscores the horrible history of suburban sprawl in the United States and the bad political decisions that drive it.

And those bad political decisions are based on the policies of pridefully ignorant, selfish, and self-centered people whose wealth still comes from the taxes of people they disdain. I would make more mention of racism as well, but why bother?: since it would be belaboring the obvious even above and beyond the supposed subject of this entire blog. The residents don’t call MARTA “Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta” for nothing, you know. That’s why the Braves are moving out to the suburbs.

This is about more than just roads, or bad driving. It’s about a mindset that rejects the idea that people should work together for their own benefit, or that we are a self-governed nation seeking common goals, or that there is a world that exists beyond their own little bubble. It’s not just Atlanta, it’s the whole country, and if the US is in decline, this is why. It’s not the politicians, the politicians are only the symptoms. The disease is us.

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