April 12, 2011

Crisis Averted

For the past few weeks - especially Thursday and Friday - my professional life was consumed by dealing with what was then the threat of a looming government shutdown. Those hours were time-consuming, anxiety-ridden and chaotic which I guess makes a certain amount of sense since something like this happens so rarely. Now that the crisis has been averted, I'm sure people will quickly forget about it. Move along. Nothing to see here. Business as usual.

What almost happened this weekend - the shutdown of an entire government, the most powerful democracy in the world - is absolutely inexcusable. There is no way in which one can justify what nearly happened or how close we came.

It would be a shame to walk away without what we in the industry call lessons learned. Yet that's exactly what's going to happen. You seize the meth lab, everyone thinks you've solved the problem. But what you haven't dealt with is the underlying socioeconomic issues that built that meth lab in the first place. You integrate schools but you don't deal with racism. You improve test scores but you teach to the test not improve the lesson plans. You shut down an abortion clinic without dealing with reproductive issues. We're all about quick fixes and the problem with quick fixes is that they don't last.

There's only one thing I can think of to fix the issue of Congress. And it's not quick. It'll take a few years and it's going to require some difficult choices. Vote all 535 members of congress out of office the next time they're up for election. I know that's painting with a pretty broad brush. There are probably some voices of calm and reason who would get lost in the process. And that would be a shame. But we'd also lose the egotistical asshats who care only about their agendas, not the people they were sent to serve or the job they were sent to do.

Posted by Chris at April 12, 2011 6:38 AM

Amen, brother!

Posted by: Nancy at April 12, 2011 7:22 AM

I know there must be countless funded programs that are not doing anyone any good that could be cut. Why don't they stop delivering mail on Saturdays? No one would have to be laid off and would save millions. No, instead they threaten soldiers. You know my son is a Lt. in the Army, stationed in Germany, preparing to deploy to Afghanistan in July. He told me that if it shut down he has guys in his platoon making about $1500/month and sending the money home to support family. As he said, these guys cannot go without a paycheck. I knew that we could give my son and his family money, if need be. But, few others have that luxury. They are the primary income. Here's a good idea, let's stop the pay of everyone voting on the budget and see what happens then. Honestly Chris, I have lost all hope of good sense ever prevailing in Washington.

Posted by: Debbie at April 12, 2011 7:40 AM

Nancy took the word right out of my mouth!

Posted by: Elizabeth at April 12, 2011 7:54 AM

Where's the like button?

I agree, if it was the asshats who are holding things up that were going without a paycheck, things would get resolved a whole lot faster. How DARE they take away paychecks for our soldiers?!?! I you can't pay them, bring them home. Where is all the outrage? I don;t get it, it seems like our country has rolled over in defeat and is just accepting whatever happens...

Posted by: Lisa at April 12, 2011 8:00 AM


Posted by: linda at April 12, 2011 8:30 AM

Are you sure you are a liberal, Chris? Voting out Congress has been advocated in our house for all the time my husband and I have been married. Also, term limits. If you can't get done what you went to Washington for in 12 years, you don't need to be there. It used to be that congressmen and senators went to Washington, served their time and then went back to the private sector. Now, people just die in office, or retire at 80. A major overhaul is long overdue.
I hope both your kids are feeling better.

Posted by: Tess at April 12, 2011 8:43 AM

That was the thinking in 2010 and we can see how well that worked. I continue to hope that the fanatics will finally overreach. We're seeing hopeful signs in the States at least. Perhaps it will spread by 2012 and we can undo some of the damage before the schools close and babies starve.

Speaking of babies, why do these people love babies right up to the minute they're born. And, of course, rant about death panels as they're busily creating them.

Posted by: Ann Elizabeth Adams at April 12, 2011 10:05 AM

Asshats indeed. I am a federal worker who was deemed nonessential last week. Now, I understand that not every employee is essential to protect life and property, but that classification made me feel very undervalued. My office spent three solid days in meetings trying to figure out what the shutdown would mean for us. It seemed that no one in my chain of comand knew what to do, who to send home, and when. I work weekends. I did not find out until 9pm on Friday night that I was to report to work on Saturday morning at 7am regardless of the shutdown because furlough papers are not issued on the weekend. No one could tell me if I would be paid for this work. I am overjoyed that the government did not shut down, but lordy, last week was a clusterfuck that makes me wonder who really runs this country. I think a bunch of 3rd graders could reach a compromise faster than Congress.

Posted by: Ashley K at April 12, 2011 10:13 AM


Posted by: Heather at April 12, 2011 11:15 AM

You are nuts. By voting out everyone, you are not changing the underlying conditions at all. Namely, district gerrymandering which narrows a congressperson's constituency so s/he doesn't have to compromise; the overwhelming need to fund raise; the influence of lobbyists; I could go on. All these problems would still be there, but exerting pressure on a green, inexperienced Congress.

This is lazy thinking and it won't work. It's exactly the kind of quick fix you say you don't want.

Posted by: Laura Gato at April 12, 2011 11:55 AM

Term limits means throwing out the good guys along with the egotistical asshats and replacing them with a collection of egotistical asshats who have no experience and are therefor 100% beholden on staff and advisors -- ie, lobbyists. IE, evil asshats.

Posted by: Aaron at April 12, 2011 12:36 PM

I agree with so many who have commented before me. Why pick on our soldiers? Why not stop Congressional pay when they shut down? Why do our Legislators get special rules (different retirement rules, different healthcare rules, different pay rules) when the people out in our Country are working hard every day to just get by?

Inexcusable. Asshats indeed.

Posted by: 3jaysmom at April 12, 2011 12:56 PM

If our so-called "leaders" would spend less time on Fox and Friends, maybe they could get their jobs done. All the political grandstanding does nothing. Meanwhile, as another "non-essential" government employee, I am very disillusioned with the whole budget nightmare. If it took this long to compromise on the 2011 budget (which technically started in October, 2010), is there any hope of passing a budget for 2012? Looks like we'll be right back to making contingency plans and wasting valuable resources in order to shut down the government again at the end of September.

Posted by: pegnandy at April 12, 2011 1:17 PM

It just infuriates me that these people make Congress of the Senate their "Life Work"! Ha! Throw them all out!

Posted by: Maribeth at April 12, 2011 1:57 PM

You do know the United States of America is a republic - NOT a democracy. Remember the Pledge of Allegiance? http://www.thisnation.com/question/011.html

Maybe remind the folks you work with too. You voted for these folks who make the decisions. My suggestion is - vote wiser next time.

Posted by: Julie at April 12, 2011 2:01 PM

I work in the financial aid office at a college, and have been doing this work for 21 years. Back in the 90's the government DID shut down. For something like 2 weeks. Not surprisingly, the republicans were in charge in congress then too. You would think that this wouldn't happen again but we never seem to learn from our own history. Or we rewrite it to suite our own needs. And I would comment to one of your commentors that not everyone serving in congress was voted in by Chris. He only gets one vote. And his guy/gal may not have won.

Posted by: MidLyfeMama at April 12, 2011 3:17 PM

preach it! i am so disgusted with it all :(

Posted by: kati at April 12, 2011 4:53 PM

A friend of mine in another country that is known for bribery to the government was actually honestly confused. Apparently, given what happens with lobbyists, lobbying is considered U.S. bribery. They don't know why we don't just 'fess up.

Posted by: alektra at April 12, 2011 8:43 PM

Actually, you've only got it half right. While getting rid of the current crop of asshats would definitely be a step in the right direction, the more important half of the equation would be the people with whom we replace them. To find non-asshats, we'd have to forgo ALL of the career politicians, and therein lies the rub. Given that only career politicians (OK, and maybe a handful of the independently wealthy) have the money and organizations behind them to get their name out to a wide enough audience that they have a chance of being elected, we would have a tough time finding any non-asshat candidates. Still, just voting the ENTIRE current crop out might send a strong enough message that the new folks we install might listen to their constituents. At least for a couple of years.

It also might not hurt if we could change the way the folks in congress are paid so that their own paychecks depend upon these spending bills. However, they themselves would undoubtedly have to legislate that change, so it probably has a snowball's chance of actually occurring. *sigh*

Posted by: michelle at April 15, 2011 8:44 AM