Greetings and Salutations;
Well, it is now day 9 of the government shut down, and, I, for one, have been affected by this childish game. Specifically, several months ago, my younger sister told me she and family were coming through Knoxpatch on the 3d of this month, and, she was going to throw me into the van and drag me up to Washington D.C. for a few days. There were three main reasons for this trip.
First off, my older sister and her husband are celebrating the 43d anniversary of their wedding this month. Considering the state of relationships in America, this is a minor miracle, and, is a great thing to see. There are just too few people who truly complete each other, and, have a happy marriage even after all these years. No marriage is without conflict of course, but, she and her husband have found positive ways to work it out, and, still care deeply for each other. I freely admit that I have some envy for them, as I am far less socialized and find that happy state to be well out of my reach. With luck, they will have many more years of happiness.
Then, there was the fact that neither my younger sister and her family, nor I, have been to D.C. for about 10 years, and, my younger nephew, Tim (AKA Tennessee), has never been there, so, it is high time we get re-acquainted with the city, and, he get some exposure to the amazing treasures of the Smithsonian, and, to see the complexities of the Federal Government. The timing was good, too, as he was out of school for a time, thanks to a “spring break” of sorts, and, my brother-in-law had hit a point at work where the flood of IT problems had subsided a bit, so he could get away too.
Finally, my younger sister, being a mother several times over, is sometimes slightly too concerned about the level of stress in my life, and, wanted to do something to help me escape from it for a bit. It is certainly true that I have been through some dark times recently, but, I was surviving….However, she was quite insistent, and, when a Red-haired woman of German/Engish descent makes up her mind that something needs to happen, it is just safer and easier to go along with it.
So…that was the theory, when this was arranged, several weeks ago – well before the foolishness going on in the Congress right now. Then, the Republicans, in yet another attempt to get the Affordable Care Act repealed, dug in their heels and shut down the government, furloughed 800,000 workers, got the doors of every museum owned by the Feds locked up tight, and, had the Park Service, as their last act before going home and trying to figure out how to feed their kids for the rest of the month, put up barricades around all the national parks and monuments that they could find. Now, I may not be the brightest star in the sky, but, even I would have figured out by at MOST the 20th failed attempt to repeal the act, that I was not being particularly productive. I certainly would not have pushed on to more than 40 failed attempts, and, I certainly would not have decided to screw over hundreds of thousands of moderate to low income government workers just to make a point. They claim they are trying to “Save” us from the ACA. Who is going to save us from THEM?
As of today (October 10th), the emergency measures that various governmental agencies had taken to try and shuffle money around to keep going for a while are starting to fail. Perhaps the most outrageous example is that the bodies of five Servicemen, killed in Afghanistan a week or so ago, finally made it to America yesterday. The Veteran’s Administration normally gives the families a goodly chunk of cash ($100,000 or so), to cover their expenses for travelling to the Air Force Base where the body will arrive, and, to help with funeral costs and that sort of thing. Well, thanks to the shut-down, these families were faced with bearing that expense on their own – which meant that there was a good chance that several of those bodies would arrive with no one from their family to meet them. Luckily, a private agency has picked up the slack, and is, essentially, loaning the government the monies, to be paid back when the shut-down ends. However, the cash that the Veteran’s agency needs to send disability checks, etc, out to our warriors runs out at the end of October. That will mean that hundreds of thousands of veterans will be forced to find other ways to get dinner, keep the lights on, etc. In addition, further inspectors have been released from the DOE, so, for example, the nuclear plants around the country are no longer being monitored for safety. Yesterday, there was a fatal crash on the Red Line Metro in D.C. THis will not be investigated because the DOT inspectors have been furloughed. While it may not be that important to a lot of people, I, personally, find it sad that 97% of NASA’s employees have been laid off, so, many, many programs have ground to a halt. There are likely going to be some that never start back up, because that equipment is time-sensitive. I could go on, but, it is trivial to find a train-load of stories talking about governmental services and programs that are shut down. While I am sure that all of us have one or two programs that we can look at and say “good riddance”. However, there are a small number of Members of Congress who seem to believe that ANY government or governmental program is bad. They want to to destroy everything, apparantly with the attitude that somehow, by a miracle, some other private organization, or church will pick up the slack, or, all those slackers and parasites who are draining money from the government will go get real jobs and become productive citizens! It is amazing to me that it seems to be the very well off, nay, very rich cats in Congress, who could live comfortably off their bank accounts and not raise a finger for the rest of their lives, who seem to feel this way. They do not seem to have any idea of what a challenge life can be for us ordinary mortals today! They want to get rid of the ACA – and allow the insurance companies to go back to cherry-picking only the most healthy folks to sell policies to – which did a great job of making huge profits for them, but, left millions of Americans with little or no insurance against catastrophy. They want to allow the insurance companies to put caps on how much they pay out…so if you happen to get an aggressive cancer in your 30s, by your 50s, you will have gotten all the treatment for it they will pay for, and, there is little left for you to do but die. They want to attempt to turn America into a Theocracy, where, as long as you are a fundamentalist, and go to THEIR denomination, you will be “ok”, but, if you stray, or believe anything else, you will be subject to many penalties. In short, it looks to me as if there is a small percentage of Congress who want to turn America into a live version of “The Andy of Mayberry” show, or “Leave It To Beaver”. It seems to me that sometimes they do not realize these were television shows and NOT documentaries about reality. It is impossible for America to go there, because it has never BEEN there, no matter what they say.
The final bit of amazement for me is that the Republican Party, which my parents were proud members of, has been taken over by these extremists, and has almost totally given up the idea of fact based arguments, and, relies only on lies, anecdotes, and ad-hominum attacks on President Obama and the Democrats to try and push their agenda. It is a terribly sad thing, because many Republicans I know are very intelligent and wise folks, but, are trying as hard as they can to swallow the jagged bits that the party puts out now.
Bee Man Dave