Mona Charen

But not everyone. There is a loud minority of Americans who are spoiled and whiny. Why did Fairfax County not have a back-up generator at its water treatment plants, they demanded. The county's website asserts that this was impractical. But let's assume it was because they decided not to spend the money. Is that so odd?

This is the worst storm Fairfax County has endured in decades. We almost never get hurricanes this close. Is Fairfax County supposed to plan for every conceivable emergency no matter how remote? It costs something to build and maintain generators. There are tradeoffs. You balance the cost against the likelihood that it will be needed. It isn't as if we were without potable water for weeks.

The boil water order lasted only three days. Is it so unbearable for a bunch of coddled and pampered suburbanites to brush their teeth with bottled or boiled water for a few days? This was an emergency, for heaven's sake. Life throws a few curves. You're extraordinarily lucky if you avoid tragedy -- you can't expect to waltz through life avoiding even minor difficulties.

This identical frame of mind is evident in the lawsuit filed by relatives of the Sept. 11 victims. If something terrible happens, someone should be made to pay. They're suing the airlines and others for negligence. So the twin towers ought to have been designed to withstand two jet-fuel-laden passenger planes purposely crashing into them? The airlines should have made their cockpits more terrorist-proof? The first is ridiculous. The second may be sound in hindsight, but hardly amounts to negligence.

There is a wonderful camaraderie, ingenuity and simple generosity that surfaces in times of adversity. It's just too bad the whiners insert their discordant note.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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