So two weeks ago our proposed Federal budget was so egregious that, rather than vote to approve it, members of both houses, both parties, and the President of the United States shut down 20 percent of the Federal government. Let’s see what our elected representatives accomplished.
First and foremost, I suppose, was the fact that 800,000 non-essential federal employees enjoyed a two-week paid vacation. Yes, paid vacation. I am pretty sure I read that Congress approved a bill to give them their back pay once they returned to work. I am also certain that I read that some furloughed employees were able to collect unemployment during their time away from work — which comes from the states, as I understand it, and will not have to be paid back.
Heck of a deal, there. I wish retirement paid that well. In fact, my friend’s wife was hoping the shutdown would last at least until Thanksgiving because her furloughed husband was making quite a dent in her honey-do list, but the list was long and he wasn’t close to being finished when he was called back to work.
What else? Oh, yes. Certain government agents suddenly began acting like the Gestapo and began randomly and arbitrarily closing national parks and monuments with little regard for the people they were supposed to be serving. There was that big SNAFU, of course, at the World War II Memorial. Workers had to drag in barricades to put up so that people couldn’t approach the magnificent tribute to the fighting men of our greatest generation. Then we had to pay people to make sure the barricades stayed in place. Didn’t make a lick of sense.
People had planned visits to our national parks for months and sometimes years in advance only to be disappointed when they arrived at their respective destinations. We even closed down the American cemetery in Normandy. There is no ground in all the world more symbolically sacred to lovers of liberty than Normandy and most of those who were there over the past two weeks were probably on a once in a lifetime journey to pay their respects to the men who died at beaches with names like Sword and Juno. And they were turned away because a bunch of petty politicians thousands of miles away had their panties in a wad.
I know a guy who had waited seven years — seven years — to get a permit to raft down the Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon. He got to Arizona and was turned away because a few short yards of government road was closed — out of spite. Seven years. Disgraceful.
We’ve all heard the other horror stories. The government goons closed private businesses and there were all sorts of concerns over whether the military would be paid, or when. There was never any concern, however, about whether Congress would be paid or whether the POTUS would be paid.
The government threatened to arrest priests if they performed their duties as chaplains for soldiers serving in the military and the government closed a road leading up to a view of Mt. Rushmore—not to Mt. Rushmore, just to a view of it — lest passers-by snap a picture of the landmark during a rare early season snowstorm. I ain’t making this up, y’all.
Does this sound like the United States of America you know?
The government even tried to barricade the parking lots at Mt. Vernon, home of George Washington, whom I assume is still rolling in his grave over what has become of the government he helped create that was intended to protect the people from tyranny. Turns out Mt. Vernon has been privately owned and maintained for 150 years or so. Oops.
Grocery stores at military bases were shut down. The golf course that the president frequents was not.
In some places barricades were placed at scenic overlooks and an employee at Yellowstone National Park revealed that his staff was instructed, according to the Washington Times, “make life as difficult as possible.”
Wow. Double wow.
I don’t care if you are a Democrat or Republican or Independent or a member of the John Birch Society or the ACLU. We, the people, deserve better. If the budget situation was bad enough two weeks ago for all the aforementioned foolishness to have taken place, the foolishness should still be taken place because nothing has changed. If it was not bad enough, the foolishness should never have taken place.
And please don’t forget that the “compromise” reached by the two parties was merely temporary and we might get to do this all over again in early 2014.
Government of the people and by the people? Yes, because we elected the clowns that did this. Government for the people? I don’t think so, Scooter.
Darrell Huckaby is a local author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/darrellhuckaby.