By Tom Prezelski
Re-Posted from Rum, Romanism and Rebellion
Back in 1995, during the last government shutdown, prompted, as some might recall, by Speaker Newt Gingrich’s fit of bratty pique
after a perceived snub by President Clinton, Arizona Governor J. Fife
“Three Sticks” Symington pledged that he would take action to keep Grand
Canyon National Park open during the crisis. He sent the Arizona
National Guard in for this purpose. The Guard protected access to one
road that ran from the park boundary to a single scenic overlook for a day or so. In other words, they did exactly enough to provide a show for the teevee and nothing else.
as late as 2007, I heard a member of the legislature brag about how the
State showed how they could run the park better and cheaper than the
federal government could, but it would be difficult for anyone to
sincerely say that what the Guard was doing was the same as managing a
1900 square mile piece of land that receives over four million visitors a
Speaking of insincerity, in the wake of the phony umbrage
which followed the lockout of veterans from the World War II Memorial,
Republican National Committee Chairman Rence Priebus pledged $150,000 to pay a small staff of 5 security guards to keep the monument open for a month. Like Symington before him, Preibus, seems to be gleefully ignorant of what running a public park actually entails.
you have visitors, someone has to clean up after them. Visitors leave
trash behind, some of them make a stop to use the toilet, and sometimes
one or two accidentally break something. All of this is to say nothing
of the fact that someone has to trim the weeds, change the lightbulbs,
sweep the floors, and generally keep up the place to a standard
befitting a national treasure. None of these things are in the job
description, or skill set, of a private security guard.
stunt is actually somewhat insulting, since it seems to reflect a
certain disdain for the work that the Park Service does. This contempt
was similarly expressed by Senator Rand Paul, who referred to Park
Service professionals as “idiots” and “goons.”
It is generally consistent with the anti-government rhetoric of the
modern Republican Party, which regards government employees as
parasites, and is ignorant of the important work that they actually do.
the hardship the shutdown has caused for government employees and their
families needs to be discussed, the fact that this is the focus of
discussion in the media only helps perpetuate the Tea-Party narrative
that the crisis is merely a matter of a missed paycheck for some
overpaid bureaucrats. The much larger problem is that the work that
those people are otherwise paid to do for the public is not being done.
Research has come to a halt, buildings are not being maintained, money
for projects is not moving, roads are not being repaired, food is not
being inspected, toxic waste is not being cleaned up, and other
important functions that the public needs and demands are simply not
In about two weeks Washington DC, whose
budget is controlled by Congress, will run through its reserves, which
will leave the Nation’s capitol unable to pay its police, firefighters
or garbagemen. At about the same time, the Veterans Administration will
have trouble processing claims, and even the military will suffer as
some of its civilian support functions have ceased. It will become very
clear to the public at large that this is about more than a few
furloughs. If anything, ending the shutdown is in the best interest of
the Republican Party as it might become clear to the public that the
Tea-Party narrative that government employees are useless and that the
work they do is a mere nuisance is a dangerous fantasy.
Or, maybe Rence Preibus could write a few more fat checks.