Are government shutdowns ever a good idea?

My submission to the Political Posturing column in the March 2109 issue of InBusiness Magazine.

Special thanks to Jack Marshall of Ethics Alarms and ProEthics, LTD for his guidance for my first column. His input was instrumental in helping me focus in on what I really wanted to write about.

Without further ado, here is the column…

“Ever” is a long time; however, in general I personally don’t think government shutdowns are a good idea. I don’t think it’s an ethically sound political tactic or bargaining chip because it’s not ethical to virtue signal a political agenda while unethically holding the welfare of others hostage in a government shutdown.

We elect politicians to go to Washington, D.C. to manage the federal government so it can continue to serve the people and businesses with services that we the people, through our politicians, deem necessary. When the government shuts down, services to the people are stopped or reduced, some government employees continue to work while wages are deferred, and some are put on furlough. A shutdown is proof that they are unethically holding the welfare of others hostage and failing at their job.

In Jack Marshall’s 2013 blog titled “Ten Ethics Observations On The Government Shut Down“, Marshall correctly writes: “It takes two sides to make an impasse. Both sides of the dispute, I assume, are taking their positions in good faith with the conviction that they are important enough to reach this difficult point. Blaming either side exclusively is illogical and unfair, as well as dishonest. However, in an impasse, the side that refuses to bargain in good faith holds the greater responsibility for the length it.”

Both sides in D.C. pompously virtue signal from their soapbox that they are fighting the good fight, but what’s really happening is that shutdowns are evidence of intentional failures in government compromise to score political points. It’s not ethical and it’s not acceptable. It’s time we the people kick the soapbox out from under their pompous feet and demand they do their job.

Everyone, including the president and members of Congress, knows that they are obligated to compromise and pass a budget. The problem is that all their political posturing defines their agenda. Washington, D.C. politicians just can’t seem do what they were sent there to do without all the political propaganda. Government shutdowns show us that D.C. politicians are no longer there to serve the people, instead we the people are expected to be the cannon fodder to their partisan political agendas.

They should lose one month’s pay for every day of government shutdown.

Of course the “they” I mentioned in the last sentence is the President and all members of Congress.

On the flip side of the question posed, Brad Werntz wrote about the 2013 and the 2017 government shutdowns as part of his hypocritical partisan rant. Werntz wrote in part…

This current shutdown caused damage to Joshua Tree National Park alone that will take an estimated 300 years to repair.

In context with the question posed and the rest of what Werntz wrote, this statement is directly implying that Republicans are to blame for the vandalism in Joshua Tree National Park. This is such a blatant misrepresentation of facts that I consider it to be an outright lie. No Mr. Werntz, the shut down did not “cause damage” to Joshua Tree National Park, irresponsible vandals did!  Put the responsibility where it belongs, on the disrespectful assholes that actually vandalized the park! Mr. Werntz’s statement is an unethical and false partisan smear, it’s propaganda bull shit for hive minded Democrats and irrational anti-Trumpers.

Something to note; when I’ve visited family in Twentynine Palms area I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Joshua Tree National Park. I did some hiking and rock climbing and I can honestly say that the only park rangers I ever saw in the park were the ones at the park entrance, I never ever saw a park ranger within the park or in a vehicle within the park EVER! With the lack of rangers patrolling Joshua Tree National Park vandals can get away with damn near anything and never be caught, it doesn’t matter if the government is open or shutdown. Something else; Park Rangers do not actually prevent vandals from vandalizing, they just try to catch them if by chance they are stupid enough to vandalize in front of a Park Ranger or when responsible park visitors report the vandals.

It seems to me that in the mind of Werntz, Republicans are to blame for everything and this is a problem. When people like Werntz choose to blame everything on one political side when it’s absolutely clear that both sides are to blame, it fuels the fires of hateful division in our society. The kind of thinking that causes this kind of blind hateful reaction is one of the most divisive problems we have in the United States right now.

Featured Photo Credit: Steve Witherspoon

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