Sunday, October 13, 2013

Government shut down thoughts.

So, I have been following the matters of the government shut down here in the USA with some interest. There has been several crazy memes flying around on Facebook. I won't dignify them with reposting but I can summarize them pretty quickly.
  1. It is a vast plot to overthrow the government.
  2. It is because of some sort of conspiracy to defraud the people.
  3. It is because President Obama is ... [fill in racial/politically oriented slur]
Now, some people, like the local media big shot Bob Lonsberry have been very 'hey the government shut down is a good thing!' and they treat the whole affair like it is some kind of joke. I think his position on it all can be summarized really well with one statement he made about this business. "All people M-16 qualified are essential [government] personnel." Some people are deeply troubled by it all and have expressed their distress over the fact that important programs are not getting funding.

I think it's reckless of people like Mr. Lonsberry to make this thing out to be a joke. After the first day or two, it stopped being funny. We're at the beginning of the third week. I thought that somebody was going to blink last week. I was wrong. I'm now hoping that my Anam Cara was not prophetic about this not being resolved by the 17th.

I know that this mess is getting taken seriously when I see people on food stamps doing what they can to stock up for possibly going without food for a period of time. When I was in Wegmans today, I was in line behind two men who were pooling their resources (I had heard them discussing how to divide their respective purchases between themselves) to buy big packages of meat. At first, I didn't think much of it. Then I happened to overhear the discussion as to if they had enough funds left on their EBT cards to pick up vegetables.

One man had a minor panic over the cost of the package of meat he was getting until the cashier explained to him the effect of his Wegmans' card on the purchase. Some people may just scoff at these two men. Some people may say that they're some how bottom feeders and that they deserve to have their funds cut off. (I'm looking at you, Mr. Lonsberry.) It's hard for me to believe that attitude. These men looked like people who worked hard everyday. I could tell that they do some sort of manual labor. I think they were probably farmhands judging by the fact that one of them was wearing a John Deere hat and neither of them seemed to have roofing tar on them.

You see, programs like food stamps don't go strictly to the 'welfare queens' that people like Mr. Lonsberry like to crow about and insist are a blight against society. They also help out people like poor working folks who are having a hard time making enough money to feed themselves. They help out people who are disabled and can't work due to the severity of their disability. This government shut down is going to hurt a lot of people if it goes on much longer.

It's not just the 'superfluous' government workers that are losing money here. I would also go so far as to argue that these jobs are not 'superfluous'. If they were, then they wouldn't exist. Somebody needs to cut the grass at the national parks. Somebody needs to clean the bathrooms at the Smithsonian. Somebody needs to make sure that tax fraud is getting handled. Somebody needs to run the printing presses at the mint.

And each of these people who are not working right now, they're not able to put money into the economy. People want to crow about how much money is getting 'saved' by these 'non-essential' government workers not being at work. What about how much money is not going into the economy on this basis? The government shut down is not a good thing.

I don't know if this is the beginning of an ugly chapter in the history of the US. I just know that my gut is telling me that the winds are shifting and not in a good way. So, I do what I can to prepare for possible problems and hope that this doesn't turn into a disaster.

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