Two weeks ago we traveled to Colorado for a family wedding. The wedding was beautiful and I also appreciated the fact that this was an academic love story in every way. The bride (my niece) who holds a Master’s in Math and the groom who has a Ph.D. in Math fell in love in graduate school and their love of math was an important catalyst. What a beautiful story and it all added up to a wedding to be followed now by an increasing number of anniversaries.
While the wedding was beautiful, the weather was memorable. After we arrived, picked up our rental car, and began the journey from Denver to Greeley, lightening appeared in the distant sky. Relatively muted at first, it quickly evolved into very prominent cloud to cloud and cloud to ground lightening. The effect was highlighted by a series of unlit roads and dark open fields. And then it happened. The lightening continued but now was accompanied by heavy hail. Yes, summertime hail, which became noisier and noisier and heavier and heavier. In those few times in the past when I was driving in a winter hail storm in the New York area, I never remember any storm that had the intensity of this one. My older daughter was sitting next to me in the front seat following the navigation system which was clearly our lifeline since the visibility for almost 30 minutes was at most a few feet. And all of us in the car were very tense and apprehensive as we drove to our destination and we did keep driving since there were very few and very far between places on these rural roads where you could safely stop. Even when we got to the hotel, we still stayed in the car for an additional 15 minutes just to give the lightening time to move away and then allow us to safely enter the hotel.
The next day, Friday, there was a rehearsal and a dinner and on Saturday the wedding took place. The weather was clear, hot and very dry. Not comfortable but nothing to worry about. Except we could see from the wedding site, what appeared to be a fire far in the distance. On Sunday, our last day in the Denver area, we decided to drive to Fort Collins to spend time in a nice college town. As we drove closer to Fort Collins, we could see the fire more clearly and the smoke and smell were now permeating the entire area. When I was able to see the flames first hand, I could see the enormity of the event and get a clear sense of the toll it was enacting on the area. The fire was caused, according to the news reports by lightening that struck during the Thursday night storm.
Today, a little over a week since the fire began, it continues and the devastation it causes continues as well. On the news this morning, a story on the fire noted that more than 180 homes were lost and also noted, unfortunately, that the fire was continuing.
As I think about the hail storm and the resulting fire, I also think about the November elections which are now less than 5 months away. So many candidates are talking about cutting spending and cutting taxes. The candidates seem very specific on how and they would cut taxes for everyone and much less specific on how spending would be cut. There is no question that some government inefficiency exists, but not nearly enough to compensate for the tax cuts being proposed by some office seekers. Let the candidates talk openly about how they will cut costs—will it be a reduction in spending for weather related research, for fire prevention and firefighting, for national defense, for education, for cancer research etc. And let them talk precisely about why taxes need to be cut for everyone. Give the public the specifics and let’s see whether they think the math adds up to what best serves our country.