Thursday, October 3, 2013

Read this Blog!

Each week for the past 3 plus years I’ve aimed to headline each blog in a way that both captured the essence of the subject I would be addressing, while being an ironic or wry twist on a well known phrase or idea.  It’s not particularly unique approach and sometimes it’s more successful than others – but my goal is to grab the reader’s attention and describe what is to follow.  The first paragraph usually is a more personal hook that ends with an interesting or provocative statement, designed to have people click through or continue reading.  “Read this Blog!” is different – much more direct, no salesmanship, no gimmicks, it’s exactly what I want the reader to do.  This week I’m totally over the trickery – and that’s because the “Government Shutdown” is anything but, and that each side of the political spectrum and the major media has bought hook, line and sinker into this faux description, it’s time to deal in facts.

The history of calling a piece of legislation or a government program something that the public can easily and quickly understand probably goes back a long way.  Social Security.  It could easily have been called Mandatory Savings and Redistribution. But Social Security is a much nicer sounding description of the program.  And, of course, both the real title and my make-believe one each accurately describe the program.  Then there’s the array of freedom-loving military exercises that obfuscate the brutal violence and death that surrounds war.

When I hear “Government Shutdown” – I tend to take the term relatively literally, as do millions of others:  the U.S. Government operations will stop.  If there’s no money to pay for government services, then they wouldn’t continue, right?  Ending all constituent services: that’s the pressure that’s supposed to drive the opposing sides together.  It emulates a strike at a company:  when the workers walk off the job – management or others might be able to do a few things, but the base operations of the company stop.  That’s the incentive to get the opposing sides to sit down and figure something out – as they’re each losing.
In this instance, what’s being lost is still important and impactful, but not a majority of Government services.  “Essential” services have been declared so that much of the core functions of government will continue.  FAA, Food Inspectors, IRS collection agents, lawyers at the Justice Department and, of course, Congress itself and its staffers. Areas that are important and impact people in a less direct way – parks, museums, etc. are somehow less “essential.”  I have friends who have been furloughed, and friends who haven’t.  It’s a terrible way to treat people, and certainly no way to manage a large complex organization that is designed to serve the public.
I guarantee that if airports shut down, meat wasn’t processed and safety checked and money wasn’t collected – it’s a pretty sure bet that the United States wouldn’t be in the current predicament, or if it had happened, it’d be over in a nano-second.  But it’s in both the Democrats and the Republicans best interest to have the narrative out there about a Government Shutdown.  It’s all politics and not policy.
Congress: Enough with the political theatre, it's time for an intermission.  Shut it down fully, or open it up fully.

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