My wife and I live pretty close to the “inside the beltway” crowd. The Washington Post is delivered bright and early every morning and I read it from cover to cover every day. I try to balance the news intake by listening to Fox news. I have lived here all of my life. Every part of my professional life is either on hold or in limbo. The Government is shutdown.
This weekend, we planned to visit the mountains in Southwest Virginia so she could take photographs and we could have a mini-vacation. These sort of trips have to be scheduled, planned and paid for weeks in advance. We were able to drive around the mountains. We were able to drive below the mountains. We were able to drive by the mountains. We could not use the road that went through the mountains. It was shut down. Skyline Drive has become Skyline Don’t Drive.
I remember DC before home rule. I remember when Montgomery County Maryland kept electing Representative Gil Gude and Connie Morella and the Senator Mac Mathias (all of them members of the Republican party). The names, faces and parties have changed, but the game of political brinkmanship remains the same. I have lived through “oil embargoes”, “Cuban missile crisis” and a few “shut downs”. Every crisis has passed and the only ones that suffered were the everyday folks all across America. We are shut down again.
While I have some understanding of the magnitude of the calamity the House and Senate are trying to resolve, I have joined the ranks of those that are ready to “throw the bums out”. Sure, there are more zeroes on the end of the National Debt and yes Healthcare Reform is the law. Those facts can not be denied.
Not one elected official, not one Senator or Congressman has the right to pull the plug on the entire country and refuse to come up with a meaningful compromise. Not one.
The absurdity of this action can not be lost on millions. The US Government is closed down except for essential folks. (Essential determined by various yardsticks). The large part of Government employees had to pack up their plants and go home. Within days, the House and Senate began working on a bill to retroactively pay those employees. Contractors (vital to the operation of the Government) would see payments stop, so those working for them became unemployed overnight. They will not receive lost pay. Everyone is on a forced to be paid or never be paid vacation.
The check’s in the mail. Of course, until the House and Senate do their job and resolve the problem, that mail is not being delivered. Nothing is happening. The IRS is not verifying information for Mortgage providers, fewer people are checking our food supplies, not many are available to investigate public safety problems and it is illegal to visit monuments and most National Parks. Work is piling up on every empty desk. Efficiency is not like electricity. You just don’t flip and switch and all things are back to normal. The impact of the shutdown lasts well beyond the time when grownups sit down and agree to get things back on track. Second grade math reveals that if 10 items needing action come in every day and it takes one day to resolve them, the back up will last for years. The impact will be felt forever.
Of course, I am concerned about our ability to function as a nation. Most Americans would prefer that our elected officials grasped the concept of one nation and found some way to work together. I would venture a guess that most Americans are not happy with the fact that the Congress is still being paid during the shutdown. They still work about 4 days a week and spend way too much time posturing sharing sound bites for the news media. They still seem quite removed from the reality everyday folks face. Default is on the horizon. We are shutdown.
Shutdown? Shut up and fix it !!!!