Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Of Governments and Problems

One of the touchstones of conservative Republican dogma is summed up in the famous quote from Saint Ronald Reagan: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Although the full quote, heard in context, was a response to the poor economic conditions of the late 1970's and early 1980's, and Reagan's belief that misguided government policies were responsible for those conditions, only part of his comment is remembered and has been adopted as dogma by the Cut Government/Eliminate Regulations/Slash Taxes Right:

"government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

I think the recent Petulant Trump Shutdown™ of parts of the federal government showed pretty clearly that the government, for good or ill, is an essential part of our lives, and that recklessly closing it down causes vast damage to the nation. Consider that the preamble to the Constitution - the document piously invoked by elected officials who seldom seem to have actually read and comprehended it - states that the Constitution was "ordained and established" to

"...establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty..."

So, how well did the Petulant Trump Shutdown™ align with the intent of the Constitution? Let's see ...

1. "Establish Justice." Federal courts nearly ran out of money. Guards in dangerous federal prisons were forced to work without pay*.  

2. "Insure domestic Tranquility." There was no tranquility for the families of furloughed federal workers, federal workers forced to work without pay, federal contractors (who, unlike federal workers, are unlikely to be paid after the standoff), and millions of business owners whose livelihood depends upon the business provided by government workers.

3. "Provide for the common defence." TSA workers, responsible for securing our air travel against criminal and terroristic threats, were forced to work without pay. Members of the Coast Guard - the men and women who rescue those in danger at sea, and our first line of defense against drugs imported by sea - were forced to work without pay. Border Patrol agents - who defend the Trump Sacred Borders against vast, surging armies of illegal immigrants, drug smugglers, and vicious gangs that drag helpless, duct-taped women across the border and into sex slavery** - were forced to work without pay. FBI agents - who protect us from organized crime, espionage, and terrorism and who are unfairly and stupidly maligned and undercut at every opportunity by Trump and his loyalists and enablers, were forced to work without pay.

4. "Promote the general Welfare." It would be difficult to argue that the "general welfare" was promoted by the Petulant Trump Shutdown™ that cost the nation an estimated $11 billion - of which an estimated $3 billion is irretrievably lost. 

5. "Secure the Blessings of Liberty." I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anything secured by the Petulant Trump Shutdown™ ... except the reputation of an administration stacked with billionaires as being out of touch with the experiences and needs of average Americans.

If the Petulant Trump Shutdown™ proved anything, it proved that government is an essential part of modern America, and that it needs to work and work well. I don't like paying taxes any more than anyone else, but I appreciate that the taxes I pay ensure my air travel is safe, that my food and medicine are wholesome and safe, and that criminals are pursued, arrested, and punished***.

If, in mid-February, we endure a second Petulant Trump Shutdown™, the lesson will be that the problem is not the government, but a childish and incompetent president and his enablers who all need to be replaced by people willing to rise to the challenge of actually governing. One can only hope that Congress ... which has hitherto shown a complete lack of spine ... will rise to the occasion and do its Constitutionally-mandated job.

But I'm not holding my breath, and neither should you.

Have a good day. Expect better. More thoughts coming.


* "Forced to work without pay" is what we used to call "slavery."

** Just ask Trump. And consider where he may have gotten the story.

*** Unless, of course, they are wealthy and well-connected and able to hire the very best lawyers.


John Hill said...

The Petulant Trump Shutdown (PTSd) may be the cause of PTSD for many federal workers!

Mike said...

If there is a next time, all the air traffic controllers should call in sick on the first day. It will be over quickly.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

All of them collectively would screw up a wet dream.

allenwoodhaven said...

A very interesting analysis; extremely well said!