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Government Fail


Here’s something I posted over at Book View Cafe last week during the crisis. It’s old news now, but something to think about nonetheless.

As I write this partisan politics is still holding sway and holding the government hostage. There is a bright spot. According to Forbes, “More red states are affected by the government’s relentless shutdown than blue states.” So if the red states are starting to get pissed, I can only imagine a few Republicans may be rethinking their positions. Small businesses are hurting too. They usually go red. Maybe with pressure on at least one side of the argument a compromise can be reached.

Meanwhile, what exactly does it mean that the government is shut down?

I was traveling last weekend by plane and the TSA was in full force as evidenced by them spot checking at midnight at the South Bend airport.  This was a tiny airport, hardly significant in the spin of things, but the TSA was there ransacking our underwear and other unmentionables in search of guns, cocaine, and Burmese pythons.

My mail is coming to me regularly. It hasn’t even been late.

It makes me wonder how exactly the man in the street is touched when the government is shut down.

According to CNN, a lot of offices are only partially closed or even  fully open. Most offices you’ve heard of are partially open: Treasury, Commerce, Education. The unlucky, non-essential agencies that are totally closed include the Election Assistance Commission, Export-Import Bank, FDIC, EEOC, FCC, Smithsonian. The big one that’s got everyone’s panties in a bunch is the national park system. They’re all closed. Sounds silly that we’re upset. But because America doesn’t make anything anymore, a lot of us depend on tourism. So closing our parks is not just a quality of life problem. It’s the economy, stupid.

Of course shutting the FCC down can’t be all bad. Maybe we’ll be able to pirate some bandwidth now. Redistribute it to people with taste and overpower all that damn classic rock that’s polluting the airwaves.

What worries me is the offices that are currently partially closed but will be totally closed if the impasse is not solved. This includes such things as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. That’s scary. There’s so little oversight now. Not much more than Officer Obie and Deputy Fife stuffing hardcopy into filing cabinets no one will ever bother to look through. What will happen on the exchanges when it’s total anarchy?

I’m thinking this whole government shutdown is a plot hatched by the banks. They can’t stand all that mean-spirited regulation. They’d like to play even faster and looser with our money than they have been. I wouldn’t put it past them to orchestrate something like this. They’ve got all the power, right?

The NRC and OSHA are already closed down. Not that they make such a big difference in the day to day operations of anyone’s life. But they do make the huge corporations that run those big scary power plants and factories (what few there are)  safe. And if you live by a nuclear plant (which almost everybody does, considering the nature of the atmosphere, the jetstream, and prevailing winds) that’s something to think about. Do we really want those things operating without someone occasionally checking their crossed t’s and dotted i’s on the official reports? These things are run by the  whatever-you-can-get-away-with crowd and that worries me. Have you seen the power that exists inside a radioactive atom? Me neither and I don’t want to.

That’s just a start. Take a look at all the agencies and government people getting our backs or conducting research on our behalf. You may think that cutting these employees loose is not going to have much of an effect. What’s a few more hundred thousand unemployed? It’s a big country and we always need more chambermaids. But it’s not just the hungry mouths added to the mix that makes a difference to you and me. It’s the fact that they are, or were, providing services. I’m not talking about just arts and daycare for single mothers either. There are major operations involved. Immunization, cancer research, homeland security, tax collection.

Okay, forget I said that last one.

Of course it might be fun to go all anarchic. We can loot the Smithsonian and steal stamps from the post office. Then again, how much will a stamp be worth once we’ve reverted to Pony Express?

Still, I can’t wait.

Sue Lange

Find more of Sue Lange’s scathing satire in her latest novel, The Perpetual Motion Club.


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