The Great American Government Fail


I’m hoping that by the time this post goes up our government will be back on track. If that’s the case ignore the remainder of this.

As I write this, though, partisan politics is still holding sway. 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. I mean 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.




The Great American Government Fail — 6 Comments

  1. People dislike it when meat inspectors are laid off. Nothing like salmonella to brighten up your day. Also, the National Weather Service is a perk — unless there’s a tornado coming your way.

    • Having watched a friend go through salmonella this week, and also having bad weather and trouble finding radar to check the storm path, I can say that there are a lot of different opinions on what is essential in our government system.

      Let’s close congress for a few months (unfunded, of course) and hire a few extra inspectors.

  2. You forgot EPA. While some of our elected officials here in Texas would like to forget them permanently, I want someone besides industry making sure we’ve got clean air and water.

    And I heard today that they reopened in time for the research in Antarctica to go forward this season.

  3. There’s always the more subtle stuff. BIA was shut down, for instance. That’s not just a matter of not being able to go to a park or complete a vacation. That’s real people, already at risk, not receiving the services and support the government has promised.

    I had family caught up in the shut-down–but not government employees. Contractors of a government agency. So while one of us was facing layoff next Monday if things didn’t change, the other of us was essentially laid off.

    Unlike gov’t employees, that lost time won’t be paid back. The layoff was real enough so the contractor cut a check for leave time, which everyone then used to live on. So now they’re back at work (rehired!) and lo, all those people are canceling their vacation plans. For us, it’ll mean the difference in some critical savings recovery after a long private sector lay-off on top of a previous similar lay-off (hey, the private sector is tough, too!). So…maybe we’ll be able to replace the vehicle before it dies and we can do it smart, or maybe not.

    Now multiply.

    It could be that hotels, vacation spots, and retailers can’t single out the effect on their businesses, but I bet it’s happening. For one thing, with the ongoing “ruling by blackmail and crisis” mentality, we all know better by now than to think this was a blip on the radar. No one here is going about business as usual, that’s for sure.

  4. I am sure that we can all agree that the entire thing was moronic, and should never be repeated. How to ensure this? Judy, do people with puppies still whackl them with rolled-up newspapers?