My mom called me the other day to ask whether I thought the “government shutdown” would impact some state program or other. I can see how the thought arose, given that there are hardly any independent “state programs” any more (most having fallen victim to the siren call of “supplemental federal funding,” which leaves them about as independent as if they were accepting short-term loans from your local Mafia.)
“Mom,” I asked, “there’s a federal prison not that far from you, in Danbury. Are you worried about all those federal prisoners wandering the streets, now that they’ve let them out?”
“Of course you’re not worried about federal prisoners roaming the streets.” (Not that anyone WOULD worry, since federal prisoners don’t tend to be violent rapists or robbers or murderers, most of those guys being handled by the state court systems. Federal prisoners, rather, are mainly people caught up in the web of arcane, unpredictable, largely unconstitutional federal “regulations,” like that guy down in Georgia who got convicted of “conspiracy to manufacture marijuana” because he sold light bulbs at his light bulb store that some of his customers used to grow marijuana at home) “That’s because none of that has happened.
“And what about that announcement that we don’t have to send in our taxes any more — including employers and self-employed guys who would normally send in quarterly returns on Oct. 15 — since they’ve laid off all the IRS workers and there’s no one there to open the envelopes?”
“You haven’t heard about that either, mom, because the federal government ISN’T SHUT DOWN. It has never shut down; it never will. The government of Rome never shut down until the place got looted by the Vandals or the Visigoths or whoever finally put the place to the torch. What you’re seeing this week is a ‘selective labor action,’ a strike authorized at the highest level.”
Why is it these “shutdowns” — which are really just public relations ploys spoon-fed to the smiling newsreaders on TV — seem to get engineered only when a Democrat is in the White House? Because putting a Democrat in the White House is the equivalent of letting the union shop steward sit in the chair of the company CEO and write memos on his letterhead.
When the school board cuts the school budget, does the superintendent call together his principals and come up with a plan to cut some bureaucratic compliance officers, free breakfasts for the offspring of illegal Mexicans, full-service health and welfare programs for pregnant or nursing schoolgirls? Of course not. That wouldn’t cause the taxpayers any immediate PAIN.
Instead, he cuts the basketball team and music and art classes. Parents descend on the school board with pitchforks and torches, and the spending cuts are magically restored. That’s what a “government shutdown” is all about. Someone threatened the federal employee unions and regulatory bureaucrats with some actual LIMITS ON THE RATE OF GROWTH of their empires? We’ll show them! The park is closed!
Barack Obama is the perfect Democratic president for such a game. He is, after all, not a man who ever gained any repute as a military commander, as a pruner or reformer of bad laws, as a negotiator of any lasting peace treaty, as the manager of a profitable corporation or even some complex government project. No, he is a “community organizer” without portfolio, a Chicago rabble-rounder who “defeated” his early opponents by getting them thrown off the ballot on technicalities or embroiled in scandal by breaching court security to get their divorce case testimony made public — a worthy student of the playbook of that doctrinaire commie agitator, Saul Alinsky.
What does a “community organizer” do? He organizes the recipients of government handouts to militate, march, demand, confront, to dump pails of garbage in the City Council chambers, whatever it takes until the shocked and frightened elected officials, accustomed to playing in a more white-glove league, cave in and agree to give them what they want, which is (always) more free stuff, with whipped cream and a cherry on top, funded by ever more tax looting of businesses already on life support, world without end.
‘WHAT IF WE WAS TO CUT OFF THE AIR? You like to BREATHE, don’t you?’
What was the image, in the past, of the successful “union job action?” Goons with hunks of lead pipe, bashing the cars (and sometimes the skulls) of anyone who threatened to cross the picket line. Faced with bloodied customers and replacement workers — and the destruction of a business they’d worked decades to build — management would usually cave and give the agitators the wages and benefits they demanded . . . even if the result was that Detroit eventually became a ghost town, with most of the automobiles in once-proud America instead coming from Japan.
What is the image of the “federal government shutdown”? Why, it’s the same thing, only in uniform. Union bully-boys — this time dressed in government khaki, sporting badges and bulletproof vests, standing in front of their massive patrol vehicles with the flashing red-and-blue lights, guns on their hips, just daring that young mom to try and bust through their locked gate and take her kid to the park.
Here in Las Vegas, no one squawked loud enough when the Bureau of Land Management moved in some years ago to take over the scenic drive through Red Rock Canyon a few miles west of town, turning it into a “fee area” where drivers have to stop and hand money to federal clerks in a multi-million-dollar toll gate for the privilege of driving through and enjoying the scenery in a canyon full of their own rocks. (Thanks, Harry Reid!)
How did the federals come to own or control this real estate? The Constitution says they can own land within the several states for “arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings” only by “purchasing” same “by the consent of the Legislature of the State in which the same shall be.” When did the state Legislature in Carson City agree to sell Red Rock Canyon to the federals? Can we see their bill of sale?
Oh, wait: The federals now claim (in a brazen unsupported court ruling in the case that seeks to evict Cliven Bundy, the last cattle rancher in Clark County, from his spread) to own nearly all the land in Nevada, asserting they acquired it under the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo, back in the days before we even had cell phones.
Are the residents of Arkansas and Missouri and Iowa paying attention? Did you think that land was yours? Are you sure Uncle Sam won’t soon assert he acquired your front lawn via the Louisiana Purchase? What will he then charge you to enter through his new gate?
Driving out past Red Rock Canyon last week we noticed a new flashing sign warning “GOVT SHUTDOWN / RED ROCKS CLOSED.” Approaching the turn-off to the canyon road — a road Las Vegans could traverse for free for more than a century — there hove into view giant all-terrain federal police cruisers with their strobe lights flashing, parked in front of locked metal gates, and fronted in turn by paunchy uniformed federal bureaucrats with badges, sidearms, and (I strongly suspect) bulletproof vests. That’ll show those radical Tea Party Republicans, threatening to let us borrow and spend only as much as we did last year! Radicals!
The most insulting thing here is knowing this propaganda is being spooned out like Gerber’s seedless pulped bananas on the assumption the American populace will happily sit up in our high chairs and swallow as much as we can keep from dribbling down our chins. Is the Red Rock Canyon — or the Grand Canyon, or Yosemite, or any other federal “protectorate” — like some movie, where the screen goes dark if the government projectionist pulls the plug and goes home? The red rocks have been there for millions of years. Surely if the federal government were truly “shut down,” the default setting would be to send all the bureaucrats home and leave the gates OPEN (just as the only humane thing to do at abandoned federal prisons would be to leave the cell doors open), allowing the same kind of free, “at-your-own risk” access that worked out fine for hundreds of years before the federals showed up to install their gates.
At the simplest level, if the government is “shut down,” who’s paying all these bully boys time-and-a-half to stand around with their handcuffs and their ticket books, daring that young mom to just try and get her kid into the park?
The irony, of course, is that a government shutdown — a real one — is just what we need. Had the Founders been able to envision the kind of massive parasitic infection of regulators, bureaucrats and taxmen now swelling on the Potomac, eating out our substance as chronic systemic unemployment and stagflation turn us into a nation of desperate panhandlers, they would surely have made provision that every 50 years or so, allowance having been made to keep some minimal navy at sea to protect us from pirates and foreign invasion, the government in Washington should close its doors for two years, retaining only a few might watchmen to report fires and otherwise keep the doors locked, just as banks financing car dealerships traditionally require those car dealers to “stand clear” for one day a year, just to demonstrate they can still do so — that they have not become mere sucking wounds on the bank’s balance sheet.
Two years without the federal government would make it wondrously clear how little we really need it — particularly as Americans (the productive ones, anyway) came to see how much better their financial prospects would look if they were allowed to keep all they earned, with no obligation to test each planned investment or expenditure against the current standard: “What will be the tax consequences — would I be better off moving these funds offshore?”
HOW I LEARNED OT STOP WORRYING AND LOVE DE FAULT
Of course the welfare recipients would squawk, loudest among them the elderly who revel in the “free” Medicare benefits they have “earned.”
But this is only because so little of the costs (on the one hand) and funding mechanism (on the other) of such a massive entitlement boondoggle are ever fully grasped.
If our doctors could get rid of the 65 percent of their staffs now devoted to checking with Medicare and other insurers to see “what’s covered” and what arbitrary rate they can expect for each service, they could obviously drop their prices by more than half . . . and would have to, to keep their cash customers, which would now be ALL their customers. (As a bonus, given time to talk to their patients, they might even come to enjoy practicing medicine again.)
Meantime, customers aware of what each test and service really cost would immediately become more discriminating, challenging the 50 percent (or more) of medical practice which now consists of stuff done either to keep the patient on the test-and-treat carousel or else to cover the doctor’s ass against malpractice filings.
Most importantly, the senior citizens now driving to their twice-monthly medical testing session, shaking their heads as they drive by the darkened storefronts in the half-empty mini-malls all festooned with “For rent” signs, today see no relationship between this permanent economic “slump” and the “free” tax-funded medical merry-go-rounds on which they’re strapped. Nor can they see the causal relationship between the ongoing looting of the productive class — the business owners and job creators — by the bureaucrats who operate such massive boondoggles as Medicare, and the fact that Junior has been “downsized” out of his job and moved back into the basement, that he fights endlessly with his young wife about their money problems as the marriage collapses, resulting in the grandchildren progressively turning into sullen dope-smoking layabouts who can’t spell or count change.
(And never forget the inflation caused by endless money printing is also a hidden tax, sapping the value of the savings of the productive class — assuming the banks will even let us withdraw our own money, except in small daily stipends, much longer.)
If given a chance to strike an informed balance between their desire for affordable medical care and what the massive tax-sucking welfare state is doing to our young families — especially young fathers in search of work — most of our elders would choose a wiser balance.
After two years of No Federal Government, we could gradually restore those parts that we find we actually miss . . . if any . . . after a frank discussion of what each one costs. This would work providing no one could again say, “Oh, just make the rich guys pay for it.” Direct taxes must be capitated, as called for in the Constitution (a requirement never amended or altered), so that if an aircraft carrier costs one dollar for every American it “protects,” then each American — from the corporate CEO to the guy sleeping under the bridge — would pay precisely that same, single dollar.
Anything else is redistribution, which is socialism. Go back and read any platform of the Socialist Workers Party from a century or more ago: Who do you THINK thought up and demanded the “sharply graduated income tax”?
Did you hear the cheerful news readers announce the “impasse” causing the “government shutdown” was over? “The government can now borrow again as usual!” they cheered, as the Dow bounced up by hundreds of points. Yay!
This is good news?
The Republicans caved — as they always do, in this endless Punch-and-Judy re-run — when Messrs. Obama and Harry Reid started warning that “If this goes on, the government could default!”
Oh, fat chance.
Though in fact (again), a default is just what we need.
After all, it has to happen eventually. Paying down the debt would mean paying much higher taxes for fewer — far, far fewer — “services.” What politician is going to fall on his sword to try and sell that deal? Just as a homeowner short-selling an upside-down house, sadder but wiser, gets a chance to make a fresh start, hopefully on a pay-as-he-goes basis, so America would be far better off to tell those who invested in the U.S. government bonds proffered by generations of Washington hucksters that they’re out of luck sooner, rather than later.
Not only would an economy freed from the stifling burden of this debt service roar back to life, but this would have the wonderful additional benefit that no one would be stupid enough to loan any more money to Washington for at least a full generation.
The government unions and the welfare beggars they support — the ones in the fancy $100 sneakers, whether they be welfare moms or those anointed by the National Endowment for the Arts — are a massive parasitic organism, eating out the strength of this nation. America now stands like a proud old bull, still impressive from the outside, but ravaged within by parasites which his immune system can no longer reject. Our immune system was supposed to be our Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights, with its 9th and 10th Amendments instructing the federal government it has no authority to own and manage parks and recreation sites within the several states; no delegated power to regulate the traffic in plant extracts, let alone subject thousands to prison sentences of biblical proportion for growing, consuming, or transporting herbs more beneficial and less dangerous than the stuff handed out at the local pharmacy (I have in mind the entheogens, in particular); no delegated authority to mandate and fund bike lanes, to regulate carbon dioxide emissions or block development to “protect” “threatened” weeds or bugs, or any of the millions of other things on which the elite class of tax-fattened federal bureaucrats currently squander what remains of the wealth built up through centuries of hard work by everyday Americans.
The problem is that the bull, still standing tall, gives a false impression of invulnerability, making it easy for the go-go money printers to ridicule the warnings of a few bleating Cassandras.
So that — when he finally does fall — the riddled corpse of this former symbol of strength through freedom will likely be dead before he hits the ground.
May you live in interesting times.