Government Is The Same Everywhere: Slow, Stupid, And Incompetent

Most people who read this story probably finished it thinking, “What a decent and:  : courageous fellow!” While I’d agree with that sentiment, I took something else away from the story entirely:

In nearly 50 years Don Ritchie, 84, has saved at least 160 people at The Gap, a rocky cliff at the entrance to Sydney Harbour – and he is still on suicide watch.

Lost souls who stood atop the cliff, wondering whether to jump, say their salvation was a soft voice breaking the sound of the wind and the waves, asking: “Why don’t you come and have a cup of tea?”

And when they turned to the stranger, they say his smile made them want to live.

Mr Ritchie, who lives across the street from The Gap, is widely regarded as a guardian angel who has shepherded countless people away from the edge.

…Since the 1800s, Australians have flocked to The Gap to end their lives, with little more than a 3ft fence separating them from the edge. Local officials say around one person a week commits suicide there and in January, Woollahra Council applied for nearly :£1.2 million government funding to build a higher fence and tighten security.

In the meantime, Mr Ritchie keeps up his voluntary watch. The council recently named him and his wife of 58 years, Moya, 2010’s Citizens of the Year.

He has saved 160 people, according to the official tally, but that is only an estimate. Mr Ritchie does not keep count but says he has watched far more walk away from the edge than go over it.

…In his younger years, he would occasionally climb the fence to hold people back while his wife called the police. He would help rescue crews haul up the bodies of those who could not be saved and would invite the rescuers back to his house afterwards for a comforting drink.

It nearly cost him his life once. A chilling picture captured decades ago by a local news photographer shows Mr Ritchie struggling with a woman, inches from the edge. The woman is seen trying to launch herself over the side – with Mr Ritchie the only thing between her and the abyss. Had she been successful, he would have gone over too.

These days, he keeps a safer distance. The council installed security cameras this year and the invention of mobile phones means someone often calls for help before he crosses the street.

He’s quite the hero, isn’t he? He reminds me a bit of Reagan even. Many of you may not know this, but in his younger years, the Gipper saved 77 people in his tenure as a lifeguard. Quite naturally, Reagan took tremendous pride in that accomplishment — but even he didn’t personally save as many people as Ritchie:  –:  : although Ritchie, : of course, didn’t free hundreds of millions of people by leading the civilized world to victory over the Evil Empire.

Still, gripping though Mr. Ritchie’s story may be, that’s not the main thing I took away from that story. What was? This,

Since the 1800s, Australians have flocked to The Gap to end their lives, with little more than a 3ft fence separating them from the edge. Local officials say around one person a week commits suicide there and in January, Woollahra Council applied for nearly :£1.2 million government funding to build a higher fence and tighten security.

Yes, : folks, people have been throwing themselves off of this cliff in numbers since the 1800s — and we’re talking about a lot of people. “One person a week” in January. Yet, in over a hundred years, the most significant thing the government has managed to do to solve the problem is to put up a 3ft fence pretty much any able bodied person could get over with ease.

In other words, just in case you were wondering, it’s not just our government that’s slow, stupid, and completely incompetent.

PS: In another 100 years, we’ll probably still be trying to build the fence on our:  southern:  border to keep the illegals, drug dealers, and terrorists out:  of:  the country. So don’t laugh too hard at the Aussies incompetence here.

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