Monday, October 07, 2013

Extortion theater

Update (Oct 8, 2013): Here's a more comprehensive list of the many spiteful examples of punishing the public to get the administration's way.

Much is being said about the Great Government Shutdown of 2013.  Most of which misses the point.

First, the government isn't "shut down."  Not by a long shot:
"Based on estimates drawn from CBO and OMB data, 83 percent of government operations will continue. This figure assumes that the government pays amounts due on appropriations obligated before the shutdown ($512 billion), spends $225 billion on exempted military and civilian personnel, pays entitlement benefits for those found eligible before the shutdown (about $2 trillion), and pays interest costs when due ($237 billion). This is about 83 percent of projected 2014 spending of $3.6 trillion."
So the government shutdown, at least as measured by money spent, is really a 17 percent government shutdown. 

Second, the actual tangible results of the legislative impasse--which are largely at the direction of the Executive--have shown a level of pettiness and dictatorial attitude that is intolerable in a representative government:
* The National Park Service placed cones along highway viewing areas outside Mount Rushmore this week, barring visitors from pulling over and taking pictures of the famed monument.

* The Spencers never expected to be forced out of their Lake Mead home, which they've owned since the 70s, but on Thursday, a park ranger said they had 24 hours to get out.  The Stewart's Point home sits on federal land, so even though the Spencers own their cabin outright, they're not allowed in until the government reopens.

* To close the WW II memorial and other such monuments on the Mall makes absolutely no sense since it ultimately costs more money to post printed signs, set up barricades, and security personnel to enforce the closures.

Finally, this whole business is symptomatic of the nation reaching a culmination point of several negative trends.  First is runaway spending, which is causing a need once again to raise the so-called 'debt limit.'  Even as this parabola gets steeper, roughly half the country (and half the government) appears to want Uncle Sam to take on even more, becoming the overseer of health care.  One has to question the wisdom of asking an already insolvent organization to manage such a large and intimate role.

In fact, the petulant antics of the past couple weeks should cause anyone to wonder if they want such an organization to have ANY role in and over their life.  Time to rediscover the beauty of the idea "that government is best which governs least."  Very little needs to be a Federal matter.

By the way, don't forget to NIP the whole thing in 2014!

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