By Nathan Barton
Wow. Two weeks now. What a situation!
(Please tell me, honestly, has this government shutdown REALLY created any problems for you? Really?)
I should point out that the longest government shutdown in the last fifty years was in 1995 and apparently lasted 21 days. Here’s hoping this one sets a new record, but let us continue to talk about now, not the future.
First, what hasn’t happened?
- Our society has not collapsed into chaos because we do not have the FedGov monitoring and helping every day. (Of course, the government hasn’t really shut down completely. See below.)
- The world “society” has not collapsed into chaos (well, any more than usual) because money isn’t flowing out of DC to most of the world (or because the US is supposedly withdrawing from Syria).
- The public (and the electorate) have not panicked, as the Demos and the never-Trumpers in the GOP had hoped. (This might, I suppose, change now that we are out of the Holidays period, but I don’t think it will.)
- The President hasn’t caved. (I think that Pelosi and Schumer and company thought that he would, especially once she’s in charge of the House.)
- The Democrats in and out of Congress (and too many Republicans, unless you really understand the GOP) haven’t bent the knee (their view, not mine) to Trump.
- The Dems in Congress are proceeding with their agenda (which is anti-Trump).
- The stock market has not either boomed or busted due to the “shutdown” (although there are signs).
- Unlike the past, a good many government sites (like National Parks and National Forests) are NOT shut down. In addition, since DoD was already funded, no military facilities and activities are shut down. (Not even the Corps of Engineers’ regulatory offices and recreation areas.)
According to Simon Black, there are 380,000 government employees who have been furloughed. And another 420,000 are working without pay. Supposedly those are currently suing the government because forcing employees to work without pay is illegal. (Clearly, the government employees do not understand or care about the history of the FedGov.)
As a military officer, married to a former government employee, we understand and sympathize. But we don’t agree. Yes, many of these folks are having trouble paying their bills. But one of the major reasons that many FedGov employees WORK for the FedGov is that they valued income security more than being willing to take the risks of private enterprise. So they are (and will be) in shock over this betrayal of a fundamental concept of the world that they live in. (Or have, up to now.) You would like to think that with the salaries they are paid, and a little bit of common sense, that most of the FedGov employees would be able to tide themselves over for a few weeks. And there are people stepping up to the plate (privately and voluntarily) to help. One being Simon Black himself.
And apparently, some of these furloughed federal employees have applied for welfare. Which is administered by tribal, state, and local government.
Trump has made it clear that he is not going to cave, and that the partial shutdown might last for weeks, months, or even years. This is very much proving interesting.
People are responding in various ways. For example, the State of Utah is providing funding for National Parks in Utah, since they figure that they are critical to the state’s tourism industry and economy. Arizona has done the same. But apparently Colorado and other states are just letting things happen. As a result, the usually “ugly American” type of tourist and visitor is doing their usual job of trashing things with litter, human waste, and vandalism, but there is no one there to clean up and repair the damage in places like Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Yosemite National Park in California, and other places. (Although I was very pleasantly surprised to hear that locals have stepped up to volunteer to keep Joshua Tree National Park in California clean, as are people in South Dakota and even east of the Mississippi.)
This points out a major problem. People have gotten so used to having someone else (especially when that someone else is a government agency) clean up their messes, that they either don’t know HOW to not make a really bad mess, or just don’t care because they’ve no responsibility to do things for themselves.
The phrase here is “personal responsibility.” I was taught growing up, and still practice, the idea that when I go someplace, whether it is a national park or a city street, or a rural trail, to “leave no trace,” and to leave the place cleaner than it was when I got there. I just assumed for years that people were all raised that way. (I learned otherwise in high school, in places like Denver’s public schools and along Interstate highways.)
We have become a nation of slugs and grasshoppers. This is not all due to the FedGov or other governments, but a fact of human nature. It isn’t just a matter of being able to vote for payments for ourselves – for handouts. It is also the idea that someone else will do anything that we don’t want to do ourselves. It is a sickness.
And one we have to cure. Ourselves: individuals and families. Not government.