Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Furlough - and how it should elevate people's opinions of the government.

Before I start, I guess I'd better kind of apologize.  I haven't published anything here for over a week.  Yeah, I've been furloughed, but that didn't give me more time - less, if you can believe it.  But approaching the reality of missing a paycheck - and as a senior government employee, that paycheck isn't hay - has put me in a kind of funk.  Missing that check will hurt, big time.  The worst part is not knowing how long until they do decide to give me one - whether a replacement or one for work done after we go back to work isn't clear at this point.

But that's about my personal troubles, which isn't what I wanted to talk about today.  Federal workers are just pawns here, and our troubles aren't the worst of what is hurting this country.

Sure, some of it starts with us - since I've been off work, I've curtailed a number of what would be normal activities - many of which involve spending money.  The vendors I would have spent that money with didn't get it, and in my area - they're probably missing money from my friends and neighbors who are also Federal workers, too!  So there's that.

But what really sparked this post tonight was Rachael Maddow (and Ed Schultz).  She made some remarks on a segment where she was talking about how the popularity of the Republican Party is suffering a major historical loss of popularity - because of the shutdown, specifically.  Much of that is the result of a lot of folks in this country who either have been or will soon start missing government checks they have been used to getting.

Seniors, single mothers, small business owners, disabled vets, families of vets killed in action, the list goes on.  People are beginning to realize the sheer scope and size of a government that many had taken as an abstract concept - one their party has been telling them for a long time is bad for them and too intrusive.

The problem is, they never realized that the "intrusiveness" was masking something valuable - support in the form of government money.  Or perhaps government inspectors ensuring that their food is safe to eat, their drugs safe to take, the air they are breathing is clean enough to not make them sick.

In the abstract, 800,000 government workers sounds like a lot of tax money - and if nothing else, right wingers have been taught that taxes are THEIRS, and anything that it is spent on is negative.

Unless it comes back to them.  Now that the checks aren't or are threatened to not come, a lot of folks are beginning to take this seriously.  They are beginning to understand that this government is not an abstract concept, not a pie in the sky kind of thing to be spoken of as if it's something that affects others but not them.

This government is food stamps.
This government is aid to local school districts.
This government is national parks that attract customers to local businesses.
This government is food safety.
This government is aid to single mothers and their children.
This government is aid to disabled vets.
This government is safety in the skies.
This government is maintenance money for our national highways.
This government is scientific and medical research into human diseases.
This government is clean air and water.
This government is inspections of EVERY oil pipeline in the country to prevent oil spills.
This government is water safety along the entire coastline.
This government is border patrols.
This government is weather safety and prediction.
This government is emergency response to natural disaster.
This government is emergency response to transportation disasters.
This government is control of the economic system to prevent another Great Depression.
This government is control of interstate commerce.
This government is a safety net for seniors, the disabled and the poor.
This government is law enforcement.

This government is all these things and a thousand other items I could have gone on about for thousands and thousands of lines.

Some decades ago, two people, a man and a women, embarked on a crime spree across the central US. They robbed banks, shot people and raised general hell.  You remember Bonnie and Clyde, right?  In some circles, they were almost Robin Hood style heroes.

But to a lot of folks, they were true villains.  You see, in those days, there was no FDIC.  If a bank were robbed - either by gun or by pen, the money was gone.  Not recoverable, unless the robbers were caught before they spent it.  So, all those banks they robbed lost money, and it was the little folks at the bottom who lost - sometimes everything they'd saved for a lifetime.

That was one problem.

Another was law enforcement.  In the roaring twenties, on into the thirties and forties, law enforcement didn't do much information exchange.  States didn't do much to assist each other in catching criminals, and it was often easy for a bad guy to slip across State lines to avoid arrest.

Gangs like the Bonnie and Clyde gang changed all that, and it was the power of the Federal Government, able to reach across State lines with national reach and authority, that enabled us to begin to get a handle on that kind of crime.

Safeguarding our lives, our prosperity.  Both the FBI and the FDIC helped to stop bank robbery as a major source of crime.

Yeah, that "government" everybody on the right seems to think intrudes into our lives too much.

You know, the one that built the InterState Highway System.  The one that rocketed our economy into the stratosphere after WWII, by enabling people and goods to cross the country in just weeks instead of months.  The highway system that every major Corporation today depends on to get its goods to market - inside the country or out - yet whines to high heaven if asked to pay their fair share to maintain it!

Yeah, that government.

The one I work for.  The one that works for YOU.

I have a message for the Democrats.  Yes, me, little old me.  The message?

Get off your asses and start pushing Progressive ideas and ideals!  For Obama's entire tenure as President, he has tried reaching across the isle to deal with Republicans, even going so far as to bring Republicans and Republican policies into his Administration to show a willingness to compromise.

I say, enough is enough.  If the last two weeks haven't shown you how unwilling the Republicans are to compromise, I don't know what it would take.  The only thing today that is getting their attention is the fact that they are now polling at the lowest level they've ever polled, since that poll was started!

Yeah, now that it has been banged into their thick skulls that they are f'ing LOSING this fight, NOW they want to begin talking seriously.

Well, I say fuck 'em.  I'm already a paycheck down, as of tomorrow.  I say let the bastards sweat.  Make them come clean, and I mean clean.

But don't stop there.  Rub it in. Show the bastards that their tactics have not only made them lose, but that they've pissed off the wrong set of people.  Force them to raise the debt ceiling for a year, but make THEM make serious concessions in some of their most important talking points before giving an inch.  Make the bastards agree to bringing back the budget to pre-sequester levels.

Mr. President, Mr. Reid, Ms. Pelosi, please.

Support, push and FORCE more progressive policies and do it in the next year.  Do it BEFORE the next election, and I guarantee you that you can bring out your base for the 2014 elections, and we will be ENTHUSIASTIC!

But you've got to give us a reason to be passionate.  We HAVE to see, indeed, we have to KNOW that you three have OUR backs and care about the things WE do.

Trust me, you do NOT want us to get discouraged and stay home in a year.

None of us do.


Melissa said...

Bravo Robert! This was worth waiting a week for. I agree, a year minimum and absolutely pre- sequestration.

Robert Ahrens said...