HART: The Washington Monument syndrome
OAKMONT, PENN. — We are more than a week into the government shutdown; shouldn’t we be looting Target for a flat screen TV by now? Why haven’t you joined a marauding street gang?
Two things have become apparent: how little we need most of government, and how spiteful public servants can be when they do not get their funding.
A turning point in this game of government shutdown brinksmanship happened last week when “our” petulant government went to great lengths to shut down open air memorials in order to intimidate us from ever cutting off funding.
During the sequester, the government shut down White House tours. Now it closes open air monuments and parks. Tourism is the second largest reason people go to D.C. Number one is to beg for a government handout.
This is a vengeful regime. It has no problem bullying and extorting from the people it was elected to serve.
The privately-funded World War II Veterans Memorial was blocked with barricades; it took more effort to barricade it than to staff it. When a busload of “Greatest Generation” veterans from Mississippi and Iowa showed up, the barricades didn't stop them. They did the right thing — again. The World War II vets, self-reliant and with little tolerance for petty politics, came in anyway. They made the administration in D.C. look like exactly what it is: a bunch of heavy-handed, union-like goons.
This government tactic is called the "Washington Monument Syndrome," and is a well-worn ploy. It got its name in 1969 when the then-director of the National Park Service contrived a plot to pressure Congress into not cutting its funding by being defiant.
We have a $17 trillion debt, up from $10 trillion when Obama took office; much of it is owed to China. All the while, Congress ping-pongs various spending bills back and forth between the House and the Senate. If we know anything about ping pong, we know it happens every four years and the Chinese always win.
Do we need a Commerce Department? Commerce just sort of happens anyway. Do we need to pay farmers not to plant crops? Has the Education Department improved education (which is the role of municipalities and states)?
Even though we cut the workforce at home, during this shutdown Obama continues to fund foreign aid. The NSA continues to spy on us. One would think we could save money by spying on ourselves during the shutdown.
60 Minutes did a great piece on how getting Social Security disability payments has become a TV lawyer-driven scam. Payments have increased 20 percent in six years. They now cost us $120 billion a year, more than the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Labor — combined.
In an interview this past weekend, Nancy Pelosi said that the government cannot cut any more. Pelosi also said she will not rest until Obamacare is fully implemented or until she captures all 101 Dalmatians.
Why not require every government agency to appear before Congress and define what it does, why it does it, how much it costs, and why the private sector can’t do it? We will then decide if we want to keep it.
Now these “non-essential” government employees know they will be paid for sitting at home, which must not be dissimilar to what they do at their government job, if no one notices.
The shutdown is a cold-blooded, political calculation by Obama. He knows the GOP will be blamed for it by the mainstream media, which is the echo chamber of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. If you believe them and Carney, everything is the Republicans’ fault. And if you can respect the veracity of anyone, it’s a carney.
This Washington standoff has no easy off ramps for either side. Neither wants to be the first to blink. The advantage is decidedly with the Democrats; Nancy Pelosi has not blinked since the sequester.
The average American Democrat does not have the bandwidth to understand this situation and does not care unless they try to close down the Twinkie factory.
The tactic of government throwing a temper tantrum when denied massive funding has run its course. Is the $3.7 trillion a year it spends not enough to make do? We are left with a swollen government morass that intimidates its funders, the taxpayers. It is structurally incapable of spending just a little less than it did the year before, and it seeks revenge when we ask it to live within its means.
Ron Hart, a syndicated libertarian op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator can be reached at Ron@RonaldHart.com or visit www.RonaldHart.com.