From a commentary by former D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz on WAMU radio July 16:

Several winters ago, a snowplow arrived on my street for the first time in years. Although it was midnight and freezing outside, I threw on a coat and ran outside to say thank you to the driver. I felt that a gift had been delivered to my doorstep. The next morning as I was speaking to a friend who lives in Montgomery County, I expressed excitement at my plowed street. Her response was, "What in the hell do you pay taxes for?" A good question -- but I, like many other citizens in D.C., have been so beaten down by mediocre services that I was grateful every time government worked the way it should.

You hear and read about that gratefulness all the time. . . .

In story after story about Marion Barry, citizens are quoted saying such things as, "He's a good man; I live in public housing because of him." "He's a great mayor; he gave me job training." I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but that's his job. He's paid over $90,000 a year and has a paid staff of over 47,000 people to do just that -- provide public housing for those who need it, job training and snow removal.

And the money to pay for those services does not come out of Marion Barry's pocket. That money comes from us -- the taxpayers, who, by the way, pay the second highest taxes in the country.

Good legislation and governmental services are a right -- not a gift -- and we shouldn't have to write a thank you note when we receive them. It's about time we stopped appreciating them and started demanding that which is rightfully ours.