The trouble with mitigation

Henry Hill: [voice over] Now he's got Paulie as a partner. Any problems, he goes to Paulie. Trouble with a bill, to Paulie. Trouble with cops, deliveries, Tommy, he calls Paulie. But now he has to pay Paulie every week no matter what. "Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Oh, had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. The place got hit by lightning? Fuck you, pay me."

 

So tomorrow morning-if all goes as I expect it to. I will go into work, put my files in order, write a snarky "out of office" e-mail message, bemoaning the inability of Congress to do its Constitutionally appointed duty and passing along my sincere hope that every Republican member of Congress dies tomorrow night in a fire- and then I will shut down my computers, lock my files in the safe and head out the door to my car. And thus will begin the long lonely countdown to see if I can my next month's rent-and the house payment on the house in Shopping Mall.

No one, even the worst hater of Obama,  should be rooting for a government shutdown. And yet- I have read some pretty messed up people advocating exactly that. "Shut the damn thing down for year!". These morons actually believe that a government shutdown would not affect them at all. I weep when I think that some of the stupid people saying this, also wear the ring. They may wear the ring all right-but they long ago forgot what it stood for, or the real basis for the concept of the "citizen soldier". These people make me ashamed sometimes to be an American and a graduate of my alma mater. Notice I said sometimes-before anyone lays into me. My alma mater has also produced many fine men-but some folks do lose their way.

I wonder if some of that blase' ignorance is caused by the fact that we do during shutdowns what we always do. We muddle through it. Consider this, all you nay sayers. Hard working men like Maurice will go to work tomorrow-with no guarantee of getting paid back for his work, because what he does is necessary to the safety of his community. He does not agree with me in the least about the administration-but he will still get screwed by the shutdown.  The place I work at will have a military population doing twice the work it normally does. That will be repeated over 100's of locations.

Now to me-these things kind of miss the point. These mitigations allow shutdowns to happen. I keep thinking to myself, "Why not do the damn thing right? Have the government shutdown for real-all of it."

Air traffic would have to stop for lack of air traffic controllers.

Store shelves would rapidly become empty for lack of deliveries-or lack of safe products on its shelves.

Navy ships should just steam to the nearest port-and go cold iron.

Declare it open season for Mexicans to come streaming into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California-because the border patrol would not be on duty.

Watch the markets freeze up because of lack of federal funds. Or better yet, watch creditor nations  sell just a small proportion of their American assets, they could send Wall Street into a tailspin, with unpleasant implications for the net worth of many Republicans and Democrats.

Watch literally thousands of Americans die on highways, and other venues for lack of safety inspections. If it went on long enough-some folks would die from tainted food.

Deny any guards at any government facility. Just leave the gates open and walk away. Open house for terrorists! 

And lots lots more.

Now that would be a shutdown. It might actually put the fear of God in both Congress and the hapless tea party dimwits who encourage this kind of irresponsibility. I think it would ensure that any shutdown would be short.

"You are talking nonsense!", you say. Sure I am-but its no more or less nonsensical than the idea that a small group of privileged Americans get to hold the country hostage. These assholes think they have nothing to lose.  Thanks to Republican legislatures back home they all have gerrymandered districts that protect them from any Democratic challenges.

And,  I might add, some dedicated Federal workers- who contrary to the popular caricature of them as lazy moochers-have a strong sense of duty.

What we have in America when Congress screws the pooch tonight is not an immediate Armageddon.  Rather its more like a slow stiffening of our country's body with rigor mortis. The country is dying all right-but instead of blowing up in an instant it just dies slowly.

Which gives the terrorists in Congress more time to play with matches in a dynamite magazine.

“Shut down” doesn’t really capture the impact of what’s more like a spending freeze that will gradually spread through the government like ice forming in water. That means its effects may creep up on citizens who don’t interact with the bureaucracy daily. Initially, a shutdown will be little more than a symbol of US dysfunction, but each passing day will make its economic impact more tangible, especially if prolonged squabbling spooks consumer and business confidence.

The shutdown is essentially a legal problem: Republicans in Congress refused to endorse a spending bill unless it delayed the Affordable Care Act, the law delivering health insurance to poorer Americans, which starts to take effect on Oct. 1. Now, when the new fiscal year starts, government officials won’t have the authority to spend new money.

The government doesn’t shut down “essential” services that protect life or would be more costly to suspend than keep going. That means soldiers stay on duty (though their pay is delayed) and nuclear reactors stay open, but most financial regulators  and trade negotiators are sent home without pay. Medicare and Social Security will keep paying out, since they are paid for out of trust funds, though the checks may be late arriving. Many departments and contracts will be able to continue using money that is already appropriated before that, too runs out.

The longest shutdown was 21 days. I have reason to think that this one may be longer. Because we have never had a Congress this full of lunatics before. I hope I am wrong.

You can call this a lot of things, but "gridlock" should not be one of them. And you can fault many aspects of the President's response — when it comes to debt-default, I think he has to stick to the "no negotiations with terrorists" hard line. But you shouldn't pretend that if he had been more "reasonable" or charming he could placate a group whose goal is the undoing of his time in office.

The real question now is what Boehner, McConnell, et al. can do about their hard-liners. A lot depends, for Americans and many others, on their success or failure.

So I have one message to Congress, courtesy of Henry Hill: 

Fuck you, pay me. 

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It's not easy being me-but the adventures I get to have- make it totally worth it. "One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny."- Bertrand Russell

One thought on “The trouble with mitigation

  1. Skippy – I sympathize and agree with you. We need to march on the Mall with torches and pitchforks in numbers large enough  to make them wet their pants pay attention. In the meantime, set up a PayPay link on your site and I'll send you enough to buy a liter or so of good German beer to keep you going……

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