In South Pasadena, Calif., a traffic light went out at a major intersection Thursday morning. Traffic was backed up more than a mile and getting through the intersection took more than half an hour — until a private citizen stepped up to direct traffic.
Alan Ehrlich put on a bright orange shirt and grabbed a couple of orange safety flags and started directing traffic. He had the traffic unsnarled and moving within about 10 minutes. Then police showed up.
They weren’t there to take over directing traffic, because the police chief says this particular traffic light isn’t a priority. They also weren’t there to thank Ehrlich for helping fix the problem. No, they were there to issue him a ticket for interfering. The police chief told an LA television station that it’s safer to allow traffic to back up than to allow someone to direct traffic.
And this is one of the big problems with modern government in microcosm. The state is more concerned with its rules and procedures than it is with the reality of life for real people. Governments create problems, but don’t like it when we try to solve those problems for ourselves. Politicians and bureaucrats expect us to be passive and wait for everything to be done for us. It’s a serious illness that comes from living in a society where everything is increasingly driven from the top.
We’ve become a nation of sheep. The rare remaining part of the flock that doesn’t follow meekly in line with whatever it’s told to do is beaten down. It’s just another sign of a society that’s beginning to die.