Digger Cartwright

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A collaboration between Digger Cartwright and Thinking Outside The Boxe: What are your thoughts on the partial government shutdown and the situation in Washington?

Anyone who knows me or who has read some of my comments and posts will know that I have tremendous disdain for the politicians in Washington and the dysfunctional way they behave.  They’re like a bunch of little kids arguing on the playground.  I think they forget that they’re there to do the work of the American citizens and taxpayers who elected them to serve us.  Unfortunately, it’s got to the point that they’re just looking out for themselves.  They’ve created this entire political elite class who live in the increasingly isolated world of Washington where everything is ok.  They don’t know what it’s like back in their constituencies and the problems that the people face every day.  It’s like going to Disney World and escaping from reality for the day, except Washington is permanently detached from reality. 

The government shutdown is a non-issue.  This is just a little political game that the Congress and the President play every so often.  The media acts like this is the end of the world and the partial shutdown is unprecedented.  What they fail to tell everyone is that we’ve had seventeen shutdowns since 1976.  And sadly, they aren’t asking the basic question:  if the 800,000 federal workers furloughed were deemed “non-essential,” then by the very definition of “non-essential” why do we need them in government in the first place?  Isn’t this just evidence that the federal government has become bloated with bureaucrats and could use some slimming down?  I would really like people and particularly the media to start talking about this and maybe we can actually cut the size of government and make it more efficient.  You know, during the recession and financial crisis, a lot of companies trimmed their payrolls and made their organizations more efficient.  Did Uncle Sam do this?  No.  How can anyone object to saving the taxpayers’ money by making the federal government more efficient?

Very few people actually get hurt in the partial government shutdown.  This isn’t like private industry where when the factory shutdowns for a month because the company doesn’t have any money the workers go home and don’t get paid.  With the partial government shutdown, the federal workers who are furloughed end up getting their back pay, so effectively the taxpayers have given them a couple week paid vacation.  It may be a bit of an inconvenience for a small number of people who are relying on certain government departments or agencies for approval or paperwork.  And of course, the media likes to show the pictures of the people standing outside the gates of the national parks or museums, looking sad.  That really gets to some people and makes them feel terrible about this whole thing.  However, the majority of the people in this country haven’t even noticed the shutdown or felt the effects of the shutdown.  Welfare checks have gone out.  Social Security checks have gone out.  People are still able to go to the doctor or get their mail or fill up their gas tanks and get on the road.  Las Vegas, Disney World, and the beaches are booming with tourists.  The reality is that people who aren’t directly affected by the shutdown don’t really care about the shutdown. 

This is about leadership.  Someone needs to step up to the plate and work things out, and that’s the President’s job.  Good leaders bring the parties together, listen to what both sides have to say and then help bridge the gap between the two through compromise.  Sadly, that’s not how this is working out.  A lot of people are saying the shutdown shows that our government has failed.  Actually, the system is working; it’s just the players are dysfunctional.  Our Founding Fathers gave control of the federal government’s finance to the Congress.  There are some who think the President should be able to spend whatever he wants whenever he wants.  That’s not how it works in this country.  This isn’t a monarchy.  Our Founding Fathers vested the power of budgeting the federal government with the Congress for the very purpose of preventing a monarchy or dictatorship.  The House and Senate haven’t been able to agree on a budget deal, so we have the partial government shutdown.  This is where the President should step in and broker a deal between the two sides.  It’s called compromise.  Everyone has to give up a little bit of what they want and find a middle ground.  It’s just give and take, but that’s a concept this President doesn’t like.  He wants everything his way.  The Democratic leadership in the Senate wants everything their way, and the Republicans in the House want everything their way.  Until someone gives a little, the government is going to stay shutdown.      

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