Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Yes, Government Matters

With our nation a week deep into the government shutdown, portions of the conservative chattering classes have joined in chorus to condemn the lack of social services provided by the state.

Yes, you heard that correctly.

Sadly, they just haven’t linked their antagonism and their ideological predisposition.

My local conservative radio hosts have dubbed the closing of public spaces, parks, and government programs as “theater.” Activists demanded to know why public parks and memorials are now closed to the populace. Rand Paul called workers who locked up said government spaces due to the Republican led shutdown “goons” for doing their job. All the while, the politicians most responsible for a shutdown in government claim to be “winning” the battle (as they compare their cause to another notable “winner”), and the conservative establishment argues that they should not be blamed for any disservice caused by the very shutdown their party has advocated for.

It seems the conservative wing has come to see that the government as necessary, but only when they start to feel its absence. The state does more than provided services to the poor or maintain its basic infrastructure, it also maintains parks and locations large portions of our society enjoy going to. Even when these public spaces are not indoors, they require public funding to construct and maintain. Yes, they could let these spaces go uncared for during the government shutdown. Hell, countless intuitions and locations could be left open when not in working hours throughout the year. Yet, you rarely see conservative pundits arguing for an end to the security required to run communal spaces.

Some Republicans have pointed out that the closing of public parks during the government shutdown is a coordinated effort to deny citizens of the benefits of government in a way previous shutdowns have not. That, my conservative comrades, is the precise problem. It is the very fact that previous shutdowns have not caused unpleasantness that portions of society are just now realizing that the closure of the state creates a disservice in their lives.  

Surely, we can engage in a debate as to what type of nation we wish to live. We elect representatives to push our goals and objectives on a local and national level. But we also must live with the decisions our representatives make. When demagogues are celebrated for obstructionism, and we are told that the shutdown will be good for America, the reality of that sabotage needs to be extended to every aspect of the state. If being locked out of a public park is what puts you in a furry, know that it could be worse.

If the shutdown doesn't end soon, the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department won't be able to ensure that checks go out on Nov. 1 for 5.18 million beneficiaries, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki told House Veterans' Affairs Committee. That amounts to $6.25 billion in payments that VA beneficiaries are expecting. 
Already the VA has furloughed more than 7,800 employees, Shinseki, half of whom are veterans. While the VA has in the last six months made progress on reducing its disability claims backlog, the shutdown has reversed that progress, with the number of backlogged claims increasing by 2,000 since Oct. 1.”

If you believe that government is a bad thing and that a shutdown is little more than “theater,” than rejoice in the consequences of that position. Just don’t bother crying foul when the populace turns on your libertarian zeal.

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