Are you tired of the shutdown yet? Were you shocked by the stories of criminal off-roaders in Joshua Tree National Park? Are you terrified at the prospect of FDA inspectors failing to report to their posts? Do you have sympathy for the men and women of the TSA, who are expected to continue groping and harassing travelers despite not receiving a regular paycheck? Perhaps, like me, you know people who are currently facing an unexpected shortage of funds at a time of year when bills loom large anyway; while I don’t currently count any Feds among my circle of friends, I have an ex-girlfriend somewhere out there who probably still works for the FBI and who at this very moment might be contemplating what she’ll be liquidating to pay her mortgage. For that reason alone, I’d like to see this bit of political theater come to an end.
Despite that, however, I think it’s useful to have a situation like this every once in a while. It shines a light on the cockroaches of our American uniparty, which pontificates on both sides about abortion and gun control while tirelessly working behind the scenes on its true goal: transferring wealth from the productive sector to the political sector. Take a look at this list of the wealthiest counties in America. There are just two working-class Midwest entries in the top twenty: Tennessee’s Williamson County, home of the lady once known to my readers as Drama McHourglass, and Ohio’s Delaware County, home of your humble author. The rest of them are either vacation destinations or centers of government. I would also direct your attention to the fall of Oakland County, MI from 7th in the 2010 census to… somewhere in the 2016 survey. That’s what happens when we move from a manufacturing economy to a so-called “FIRE” economy.
It’s also instructive to see how the media reports on the shutdowns. When a Democratic president is in power, it’s the fault of Congress. When a Republican president is in power, it is the fault of the President. To some degree, the media is correct about this; as the Washington Generals of American politics, the Republicans are expected to put up just enough token resistance to legitimize the continued expansion of the American government and its spending habit. Without the Republicans, the uniparty nature of this country would be offensively apparent. Permitting the existence of a Mitt Romney or two continues the fiction that there has been an honest debate on the merits of whatever our Illuminati want to happen next. If you want a real sense of just narrow the uniparty’s Overton window in on the subject of American governance, consider the fact that something like 60% of America is now comfortable using the word “Nazi” to describe Donald Trump, a lifelong Democratic donor who danced with a rainbow flag at his rallies and whose “Nazi” stance on immigration is not that we need to stop it, or that we need to stop increasing the rate at which immigrants enter the country, but that we need to stop increasing the rate of increase in the rate at which immigrants enter the country.
Even I am not immune to the effects of media presentation when it comes to the shutdown. In fact, it took a particularly insightful comment on another blog to set me straight on the matter.
On Vox Day’s site, commenter tz wrote
The difference is the Government will reopen. It is mostly open. When the plant closes and moves to Mexico or China, it will never reopen.
I have zero sympathy. The swamp is getting a SMALL dose of what flyover country has been getting for the last few decades.
My God, he’s right, isn’t he? Here in the Midwest, we’ve been seeing “shutdowns” for thirty years now. Not the kind of temporary shutdown where you get your back pay after the fact, but the kind of shutdown that destroys families, causes suicides, and devastates towns. And where’s the media outrage? Where’s the pressure on the President to resolve the situation? What do our talking heads think about the utter destruction of our working class?
When General Motors announced that Lordstown would be yet another casualty of their “lost weekend” love affair with China, Trump criticized the closure and the media of record just lost their minds about it. HOW DARE HE tell a private company like General Motors how to handle its affairs? Our uniparty combines the moral sense of Aleister Crowley with the fiscal opinions of Scrooge McDuck. It is a tragedy of unparalleled proportions when the TSA has delayed paychecks — but the disappearance of multiple American airplane manufacturers under pressure from the subsidized colossus of Airbus barely rates a back-page mention in the “Money” section.
Perhaps the best way to look at the shutdown is this: We have a ruling class in this country, and it is the political class. They don’t get fired, they don’t get laid off, their plants don’t close. They have guaranteed tenure and guaranteed raises and guaranteed pensions. Their lives are not like yours or mine, subject to the whim of the market or the decisions of an “at will” employer. They can do things like take out a 20-year-loan to buy a Cessna, knowing that their incomes will always rise ahead on inflation and their jobs will never disappear. They can even join unions which then campaign on behalf of the candidates who will promise to pay them more in exchange for their votes.
There’s just one little catch: Every five or ten years, they will have their paychecks delayed briefly. That’s it. And they can rest assured that the media will work night and day on their behalf to make that period of delay as short as possible. Consider my ex-girlfriend from the FBI: She has, as far as I know, about two and a half months in the last fifteen years where her regular check was at risk. In that same time, I’ve worked thirteen full-time contracts and hundreds of freelance gigs. Several times during this period I’ve spent more than a month receiving no income at all because my contracting company, or my client, decided on a whim to move a date or cancel a commitment. At no point did I ever receive back pay from those times. My benefits did not continue during those times. Nobody attempted to pass legislation guaranteeing me a check during those times. I was simply subject to the invisible hand of the free market.
I hope that our federal overlords will look at this “shutdown” as a brief, mostly painless window into the lives of ordinary Americans. I hope that they will consider the mild pain they suffered the next time they vote on yet another larcenous trade deal or fiscal policy. I hope they will understand my human frailty more because they have tasted a tiny bit of it themselves — but I know that these hopes are, for the most part, in vain. The shutdown will end, and the Feds will be paid. The rest of us, as always, will have to suffer whatever comes next.
For Bicycling, I covered a selection of BMX bikes and frames.