Seven things too embarrassing to ask about the government shutdown

picBy Hannah Bleau |

It wasn’t just government officials who weren’t on the same page. Countless Americans didn’t know what the government shutdown was or what it meant. The media didn’t serve the populace well, pushing agendas on both sides. So I’ve come up with the seven questions you were too embarrassed to ask about the government shutdown.

1. What was the government shutdown all about?

We’ve all been hearing about the “government shutdown” and the impending doom it entailed. But it seemed to be more of an abstract word that muddied the waters of understanding. The government shutdown contained multiple factors, but in the simplest form, it was government “temporarily closing nonessential government departments” and furloughing jobs until a settlement (concerning spending) could be made.

The House of Representatives originally passed a spending bill and sent it over to the Senate. The Senate rejected it, although it essentially contained everything they wanted except funding for Obamacare. The Congress ping-ponged back and forth, altering their ideas for dealing with Obamacare. Delaying it a year or delaying the penalty tax on individual families for a year were two options put on the table. The Senate rejected it, and both came to a gridlock for failing to reach an agreement. Because Congress is where spending bills originate, there was no funding for the non-essential parts of government, and they were forced to temporarily close down.

2. Who’s to blame?

We hear it all. “It’s those darn right-wingers fault!” “Those Democrats just won’t negotiate!”

I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve heard people call the Congress “just a bunch of idiots”. That’s fine to say, but when I asked people why they’re idiots, they couldn’t answer. They were just regurgitating something they have heard from the media. My question would be this: Who is responsible for electing these “idiots”? Oh that’s right, we are! Yes, Congress should be held to a standard of responsibility, but to what degree should the American people be held responsible? America is stuck in a dangerous period of severe apathy. Most people pay no attention, and the ones who do often find scapegoats wherever possible. But we are the ones not  holding our government officials accountable.

Americans will complain about Congress. The same people will reelect the same officials for 20 years because they “bring home the bacon.” Meanwhile, the country is in $16,738,158,460,000 in debt (and counting).

3. Who decided what was open and what was closed?

Federal agencies were closed based on their “level of importance”. Basically, if shutting an agency down would have caused a reason for great emergency, it was left open. Workers were divided between “non-essential” and “essential.” But don’t feel too bad for these poor government employees. They basically got a 2-week paid vacation. They’re still getting their money, just a few days later than anticipated.

I know you’re looking for a name. Some of the most publicly-touted closures were executed by Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, which is a part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, an Executive branch cabinet office. These people are handpicked by the president himself. It was a political move, closing places down that would be the most dramatic to make Congress look heartless. This man quickly shut down numerous veterans’ memorials with barricades, knowing it would elicit media attention.

4. Why is everyone so mad at the Tea Party caucus?

Usually, for “political correctness” sake, the media is typically reluctant to use the term “extremist” — unless it refers to a Tea Partier. The media has made it quite clear they’re irritated with the Tea Party, but why? They blame them for the government shut down, but were they really to blame?

One of the main pillars of the Tea Party is fiscal responsibility and they are some of the few in elected government standing up for that. Other factions (in both the Democratic and Republican parties) are more infatuated with the utopian ideals of expanding the welfare state and broadening the scope of government. Our elected officials need to be held accountable for the way they handle our money, and the Tea Partiers in Congress were doing nothing but standing up for the basic principle of being responsible with the country’s finances.

5. How does the lack of a debt ceiling affect me?

Imagine this: Let’s say you have a small family that brings in $500 a week, but they actually spend $650 a week. They put the extra $150 on a credit card every week until the card is full. Once they reach their limit, they ask the credit card company to raise the limit. This happens over and over, and the family never changes their spending habits. How long is that cycle sustainable?

Raising the debt ceiling is a similar thing. The government is borrowing more money to pay for things they cannot afford. They’re borrowing money to pay the interest on our borrowed money while simultaneously spending more money! As soon as faith is broken in the system, it is a fast spiral to economic collapse, and no one will be able bail us out. We’re too big. Our future is vested in this cause.

6. How did the government shut down affect me?

It really didn’t. Unless you worked for a national monument or park or were going on vacation.

7. What now?

Technically, the government is back up and running, but in reality, nothing has been solved. No real agreement has been reached. Our officials simply “kicked the can down the road”. Because of thetemporary fix, we’ll have to deal with this in a few more months. The government has temporary funds until Jan. 15, and the debt ceiling limit will last until Feb. 7.

This is the ultimate problem of our government. Everyone’s repositioning for the problem again, and instead of fixing problems, our government leaders are eagerly waiting for the latest public opinion polls to come out, but not because they want to truly represent their constituents. No, these power hungry officials have to know what political move they need to make to get reelected, and they’re basing these political moves on polls taken from uninformed, apathetic and just plain ignorant people.

There are so many opinions of the government shut down, but this is the reality of the situation: America is spending more money than it takes in, and no one will cut spending. I realize it’s fashionable to complain about it, but these kinds of pesky deadlocks prove that the constitutional division of powers and checks and balances works.

It all comes town to this: Big, unrestricted government is bad, and it’s time Americans start paying attention, electing responsible government officials and holding them accountable.

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