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Tuesday, October 01, 2013

A Stupid Situation That Achieves Nothing But Damages Everything

Happy October 1st, everybody!  It is a great day for anarchists, I guess.  Or maybe not.  We still have government, but we don't have leaders - or at least, we don't have good leaders.

I don't generally blog about politics, but today I will break my rule. This is STUPID!  It achieves NO GOALS!!  If it goes two weeks, it will trim 0.3% or so off the 4th quarter GDP growth rate and will have negative effect on employment.  And Obamacare sails ahead.  No one wins, but the losses are felt by about 2 million folks - the  workers that get no paychecks.  And many more folks will be inconvenienced - no National Parks, no issuance of important government data, no Centers for Disease Control......

We have had 17 government shut-downs since the 1970's, all of them pretty short except for the 3-week hissy fit between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich in the mid-1990's.  The economy was experiencing stronger growth in 1995 than it is today, so this shutdown will cause more damage.  With luck, this one will end quickly and we can get down to avoiding the next disaster - a U.S. Government default due to a urination contest over the debt ceiling. 

As a nation, we are pretty equally divided between folks that want the government to do more and folks that want the government to do less.  There is lots of room for constructive disagreement and principled compromise on the huge issues that face us. Our system of taxation is broken - major U.S. corporations are moving their headquarters overseas due to our extremely high corporate tax rates (Aon and Eaton are two examples) and more folks are working "off the books" to flat-out evade taxation.  We have a structural deficit that will get worse without serious action as our country ages and a flood of oldsters like me start slurping up government benefits.  We have insanely high unemployment rates and millions of people are becoming "downwardly mobile" due to the jobless recovery.  The largest mental institution in the United States is Cook County Jail in my home state of Illinois due to the collapse of public mental health services. We really can't afford a bunch of elected officials that refuse to negotiate.

Here is a one guy's story.  My family has a very good friend -  a young fellow named Dustin Cammack.  Dustin led a military police platoon in Baghdad in the worst part of the war (2005-2006) and led 55 combat missions.  He also served in Afghanistan.  He was awarded a Bronze Star for his service. This man is a badass with a heart of gold.  Dustin is now the head of public relations for the Illinois National Guard, which is a surprisingly intense job due to the National Guard's  interaction with so many constitutencies (state and local governments, media, schools, etc.).  President Obama signed an emergency bill guaranteeing that active military personnel will get paid during the shutdown, but Dustin and his colleagues in the National Guard are not covered.  He will get to figure out how to pay his bills without a paycheck.  Dustin and lots of other folks like him are the economic collateral damage of the political bombs our elected leaders are dropping on the government.

So, let's re-cap - the government has shut down, Obamacare is going "live" today, the economic impact of this stupidity will be widespread and nothing positive will be accomplished.  And guys like Dustin Cammack, who have sacrificed to carry out the military policies of this country, end up getting laid off by their government.   Thank you, Congress and Mr. President. 
In the immortal words of Mercutio, "A plague o' both your houses."

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