Tag Archives: Congress

The Forgotten Victims of the US Government Shutdown

4 Oct

404 ShutdownWe’re a few days into the US Government shutdown, and quite frankly it’s a wonder there are any Americans still alive at this point.

The shutdown is no joke, people. It’s not for me to say who is to blame for the situation (it’s the Republicans), but every day that it continues, the more bad shit that’s coming America’s way. NBC estimates that the shutdown costs $12.5 million an hour. That’s a brilliant way to solve budget disputes, isn’t it? No wonder the rest of the world thinks Americans don’t understand irony!

It’s not just a vague disgrace that’s going on — it’s one that affects many Americans in very real ways. Hundreds of thousands of government employees have been furloughed and are not receiving paychecks. Services like food programs for low income pregnant women and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention flu program aren’t running. National parks are closed; even the National Zoo is affected. Animals can’t even vote yet they’re feeling the pain of the GOP’s childish behaviour.

However, when talking about groups of people (or pandas) affected by the shutdown, we can’t ignore the individuals — the ones who don’t get mentioned in the papers — whose lives are being tragically altered forever.

I’m talking about the children who just a few short days ago saw politics as a high calling, a career path for those who care about and want to help others. Who will explain to the little ones how terribly, terribly American politics has gone wrong?

I’m also talking about the nail technicians, telemarketers and tabloid journalists around the country. They wake up in the morning eager to get started on their life’s work and read that the government has deemed so many of its employees “non-essential.” If working for education or the environment isn’t seen as an essential task, well, that really puts other jobs into perspective, doesn’t it? It wouldn’t surprise me if people started topping themselves left and right. Sadly, this will only lead to more problems since the Federal Department of Suicide Clean Up is currently running on a skeleton staff.

And, of course, I’m talking about all those Americans out there who were taught in elementary school to look towards elected officials as models of responsibility. Those models of responsibility have decided that if they don’t get to play their way, they’re shutting the whole operation down (while still collecting their pay, natch). Why should Lenny over at the liquor store have to pull three late night shifts in a row; why shouldn’t he just lock up early and head home? Steve in an accounting might just up and say screw it and his company will be powerless to conduct business. Who will sponsor the t-shirts for Jerry’s daughter’s softball team then, I ask you? All of these little effects have roll on effects which could, quite frankly, bring the world’s most powerful nation to its knees.

Which would be a shame. Because I’m American and I hate to see this happening to my country.

Let America Be America Again

8 Apr

These words start a poem published by Langston Hughes in 1938. As I write this post, we are hours away from a possible shutdown of the American government, because politicians cannot decide on a budget.

The budget fight is premised on the deficit that the country has. Now ideally, no one should ever have a budget deficit: not a government and not an individual. It’s really a matter of being fiscally responsible, a lesson that most of us should have learned when we were four-years-old and asked our parents for a pony. In a perfect world, no one would spend money they do not have. Take me, for example—as you know I’m not short of a bob or two, but I still stick to a budget. If it’s a Friday night and I’ve only got £1000 left of my weekly budget, I’ll have to limit my spending: say, if I’m tempted to wage a war in Afghanistan or fund a religious maniac’s diploma mill to the tune of $445 million, I won’t, I’ll just say no. It’s not always fun to say no, but sometimes it’s the only responsible thing to do.

But okay, the US government’s got a deficit, so what’s the best way to get out of it? Clearly, you’ve only got three options when you’re out of cash: bring more in, take less out, or a combination of the two. As any bisexual will tell you, a bit of both is always best.

One obvious way to increase the money a government brings in is to raise taxes. Duh. Now no one wants to pay taxes, we all know that, so anyone who feels compelled to make the point that taxes aren’t fun should just zip it right now. There’s lots of things in life we don’t want to do, but sometimes have to do. If a fun solution had been an option, we wouldn’t have gotten to this crisis point. We’ve got to find the least not-fun solution available.

So we’re in the middle of a financial crisis, we’re all struggling, and now I’m suggesting raising taxes?  Before I go any further, just think about this for a minute.






Because you know what? A lot of us, we’re not struggling; we just have less money than we used to have. That isn’t the same thing as struggling (especially if part of the reason why we have less is because we neglected to follow a budget, as outlined in paragraph 2.)

So bumping up taxes (particularly on the rich) is an option. Or is it? No, because Obama extended the Bush tax cuts, a measure that costs more than his stimulus package Republicans are always banging on about, even though evidence shows the cuts neither hurt small business nor help grow the economy.

As the government’s given up on bringing in more, by default, they’re choosing to spend less. The government spends a lot of money on a lot of stuff. Big stuff, little stuff, good stuff, bad stuff, useful stuff, useless stuff. The argument now is what to spend less on?

I am not going to propose what should and shouldn’t be cut here. I could go on about my personal opinions and interests and the way they reflect my own upbringing, background, morals. But I won’t. And here’s why.

Because the truth is most Americans know the difference between right and wrong.

Leviticus 23:22 When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

The Prophet Muhammad: He who sleeps on a full stomach whilst his neighbour goes hungry is not one of us.

The Upanishads: Like in a well the more you fetch, more water oozes . . the more you give the more you get. This generosity is mandatory to every individual.  Hurry to promise or pledge to help. It is one thing—glorious and divine—to strive for getting an occasion for that.

The Buddha: Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

Guru Granth Sahib: The poor and the rich are both brothers. This is Lord’s immutable design.

The Talmud: Whoever destroys a single life is as guilty as though he had destroyed the entire world; and whoever rescues a single life earns as much merit as though he had rescued the entire world.

My Grandmother Boots (one for the atheists): If you turn your back on the needy, you are a real shit.

All Americans should realise that however this crisis ends, the final budget will have effects across the globe. When people around the world look at what America does, they don’t look at it as Republican choices or Democrat actions.

What do we want the world to think is important to Americans?