Monday 26 Sep 2016

Proper Proportion
AJ Robinson

Years ago, I was a civil engineer and, for a time, I specialized in coastal engineering. This was quite interesting, as it was not your typical type of work, and it allowed me to go to the beach quite often. Talk about a great job! For that work, much of what I did was obtaining permits from the state of Florida and various counties in the southwest region of the state. This entailed writing a report, which engineers do not do well. Let’s face it; we’re more logical and number-oriented. I lucked out, as I was also a writer, so I rather enjoyed writing the reports.

People wanted permits to build a home, build a swimming pool, or maybe renovate an old Florida home and modernize it. The thing was, the reports had to be reasonable. Sometimes, these people would tell me that it was vital that their new home be right on the beach or their pool had to be right outside their living room door, or… you get the point. I had to explain to them that the state had very strict regulations regarding what people could build on the beach, where they could build it, and even how.

The clients would insist that I put in my report that they had to have things exactly the way they wanted – no negotiations. It fell to me to put in plain words the reality of the state permitting process, how the counties did things, and even the fact that some counties prohibited some construction on the beach. Yet, as I worked for them, all I could do was advise them, and then do as they told me. The reviewers at the state and county agencies would review my requests, and then write a reply. After that, it was time to place a call, and talk to them. At first, they were incredulous at some of the things I’d said in the report. Then, after I explained the situation, they were much more understanding.

I became very good at explaining things to clients, and with negotiating with the agencies. I never got everything my clients wanted, but I usually got most of what they wanted. Sometimes it was as simple as moving a pool away from the beach by a few feet, and thus putting it outside the area of state jurisdiction.

It seems to me, the politicians, of today, could take a lesson from me, no boasting intended. I hear so many of them howling in extremes: no raising taxes; Obama is a communist; no birth control, women are [I won’t say it]; healthcare reform will lead to death panels and so on. Are these honestly the views of most Americans? I hear people calling for reasonable taxes on the rich and corporations; not high, not huge, merely reasonable.

I doubt the current crop of politicians will follow my suggestion. So, my idea: let’s toss them out, all of them! People hate Congress, but they always seem to return their own politician to Washington. Again, that doesn’t make sense to me – they’re all bad, people, toss them out; elect the man or woman from down the street.

What, could they possibly do a worse job?

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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