Government shutdown: national disillusionment

December 11, 2013 — by Helen Wong
Let’s take a page out of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” and compare our government shutdown to a hypothetical, disappointing zoo.
The elephants would be sitting on the donkeys and refusing to budge; the donkeys would be braying up a racket; the rest of the zoo would all get tied to some posts and told to take some time off (stand still and do nothing, thus reducing zoo earnings and efficiency) until the elephants and the donkeys resolved their differences.
Let’s take a page out of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” and compare our government shutdown to a hypothetical, disappointing zoo.
The elephants would be sitting on the donkeys and refusing to budge; the donkeys would be braying up a racket; the rest of the zoo would all get tied to some posts and told to take some time off (stand still and do nothing, thus reducing zoo earnings and efficiency) until the elephants and the donkeys resolved their differences.
Now, replace the elephants with the Republicans, the donkeys with the Democrats, and the rest of the zoo’s inhabitants with unhappy American government workers and citizens. Welcome to the 16-day government shutdown, effective Oct. 1 to Oct. 17.
The situation, in a nutshell, involved the Republicans wanting to cap the national debt ceiling, while the Democrats wanted to raise it. Plus, many House Republicans wanted to undo universal health care, which was a completely unreasonable demand since the Democrats had both passed the legislation and re-won the presidency in 2012. Neither the Senate nor the House could make a final decision and reach a compromise, so the shutdown began.
The entire world was witness to the embarrassment the shutdown caused. Yosemite wasn’t open on its 123rd birthday. The Statue of Liberty was closed. In the nation’s capital, trash disposal services ceased to run. The entire situation was ridiculous, and should have been addressed at least six months ago.
The shutdown highlights glaring defects in America’s government, such as time and fiscal management issues and inabilities to compromise for the greater good. The Republicans, in particular, are showcasing their trademark party obstinacy; their elephantine symbol is quite accurate, since they seem to simply use brute weight and refuse to move it until things go their way. The cost of the shutdown was a staggering $24 billion, just frittered away. America’s fourth-quarter GDP growth dropped from a projected 3 percent to 2.4 percent, a huge loss.
It isn’t surprising that America has been so harshly brought to face its fiscal problems. The shutdown resembles a nasty wake-up call for the government and the nation as a whole; America’s confrontation with its national debt of $17 trillion (up $1 trillion from 2012) has been a long time coming. 
The fiscal cliff at the the end of 2012 was a situation that the government, namely the Republicans, should have learned from. The country faced a multitude of major budget problems, and Congress waited until the last minute to make a decision on all of them because Democrats and Republicans refused to compromise. 
The 2013 shutdown is an amplified version of the fiscal cliff situation: instead of America being narrowly saved from going over the cliff by the last-minute Congressional compromises, America ended up being thrown into a shutdown because the Democrats and Republicans didn’t make a decision in time.
The compromise that ended the shutdown still hasn’t solved the problem for good. The debt ceiling has been raised temporarily, but the same problem will have to be addressed again in January. The Democrats and Republicans had better get their pants up and belted by then, or the country will be facing another government-manufactured fiscal crisis.
 
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