With the government on hiatus there is a lot of talk of what we can do without in Washington. Most of us haven’t noticed much of a difference since the shutdown began. It is comforting to know that as long as our government isn’t doing anything our tax dollars aren’t being spent foolishly. Still, instead of asking what we don’t need, shouldn’t we be asking why we are being denied what we paid for?
Public services our taxes pay for go on the chopping block.
How many times do we have to listen to threats that teacher layoffs mean imbecile children? First responder layoffs mean orphanages burning to the ground. Public health doctor and nurse layoffs mean people dying in the streets. We are told that if we agree to give the government more money these tragedies can be prevented, but only for a while. Instead of figuring out how to do with less of what we can’t afford, the White House prefers to extort tax dollars like this:
This year, several thousand fewer educators will be going back to school. Since 2009, we’ve lost more than 300,000 education jobs, in part, because of budget cuts at the state and local level,” said President Obama. “Think about what that means for our country.¹
Don’t think too hard. Washington shouldn’t be paying for our teachers, anyway. Even when we can fund these positions it doesn’t mean we will get what we pay for. Just ask parents in Wisconsin about the 2011 teacher walk out (see: Government Cannot Negotiate for Control of Public Services), or families in Chicago about the 2012 teachers’ strike. When unions deny public services it is deemed an acceptable response to unfairness, but cutting back because we can’t afford what government promises in exchange for taxes extorted with threats is a reason for public officials to demand even more money.
Government shuts down, federal workers furloughed. Does anyone care?
The rhetoric inevitably shifts to catastrophe when federal workers are threatened, whether by a shutdown or budget cuts. A lot of the crisis probably resides in the coffers of their unions, another excuse to threaten taxpayers with suspending public services paid for with our taxes:
We know that certain services and benefits that America’s seniors and veterans and business owners depend on must be put on hold. Certain offices, along with every national park and monument, must be closed.²
We heard the same thing about sequestration’s impact:
Because of these reckless cuts, there are parents whose kids just got kicked out of Head Start programs scrambling for a solution. There are seniors who depend on programs like Meals on Wheels to live independently looking for help. There are military communities – families that have already sacrificed enough – coping under new strains. All because of these cuts.³
The vulnerable be damned. Tear-jerking anecdotes meant to extort sympathy and taxes do not excuse government using partisanship to manipulate the provision of public services. Democrats kowtowing to the Obama White House would run over puppies and put it on the 10:00 news if they thought the footage could be used to wrench away more of our incomes in the name of preventing animal cruelty.
Running the government is not like operating a business. When a business takes a customer’s money and closes the doors on a whim, law enforcement calls it fraud. When Congress takes our money and then threatens to withhold what we were told we were buying, it is called politics.
What’s the solution? If we stopped expecting government to do so much it couldn’t threaten to take so much away. If the park rangers are on furlough next time I go to Yellowstone I’ll take my chances. If I get eaten by a grizzly I shouldn’t have been feeding, at least it was my decision.
Remember the 2011 shutdown and how our dim-witted lawmakers left us with a stain on America’s credit? For a trip down memory lane visit: Government Shutdown Should Be a Trial Run.