Shutdown: Is there life beyond the Beltway?

While on the road last week, seeking a sweet spot in South Carolina to see the total eclipse, I made an incredible discovery that must be shared with others who live (and think) inside the Beltway! There is life out there. Lots of it. And pretty good too.

With talk of another man-made government shutdown, it is important for politicians, from the president on down, to realize that most of the swamp-creature, pointy-headed bureaucrats and pampered federal pensioners don’t live and work here in the D.C. area. They are everywhere. And most of them, in addition to being fellow humans who have bills and taxes to pay, are probably registered to vote. And do.

Leaving Washington for the secret eclipse spot (which, when we got there included 17,051 squatters), one discovers there are feds and retirees everywhere. Doing all kinds of good stuff. They have spouses, significant others, kids and grandchildren, and merchants, landlords, parking lot owners and others in the community who depend on the federal salary buck. Big time.

Politicians, many who have short-attention spans except where grudges are concerned, can’t have forgotten the fiasco of the last shutdown. Or can they?

The public didn’t seem to appreciate the fact that more than half a million feds were told to stay home until further notice. They did. And got paid for it. So what was the point?

Right or wrong, Republicans seem to get most of the blame for most of the shutdowns. During the extensive and extended shutdown of the mid-1990s, when the White House was staffed with an abundance of interns, President Bill Clinton survived. But New Gingrich, the Republican leader of the House, didn’t.

Driving from D.C. to South Carolina takes you through Virginia and North Carolina. All chock-full of federal workers, and military installations heavily populated with federal and postal retirees. In addition to the Northern Virginia burbs of D.C., home to the Pentagon, the CIA, Fort Belvoir, Quantico and the FBI Academy, Norfolk and the tidewater area is fed country. Driving south in North Carolina there is Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill and Cary. Lots of federal civil servants there. On both sides of I-95. And Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base. South Carolina has a huge federal-military population. So do most states and most congressional districts. Shutting down services, and making feds wait weeks for paychecks denied, doesn’t seem to work.

So when Congress gets down to work in the limited amount of time it has left, one of the things members should do — for their communities and maybe their reelection chances — is to make sure the government isn’t, again, shut down. For nothing. To make a point that nobody seems to get. The White House needs to realize the same thing.

Is it going to happen? Who knows? But the fact that we are even seriously discussing the possibility and that it’s been raised by the president makes you worry about short-attention spans, political maneuvers that never seem to work and that common sense, at least inside the Beltway, isn’t all that common.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

The name of Dilbert’s boss in Scott Adams’ “Dilbert” comic strip is unknown. He is only identified as “The Boss” or “the Pointy-haired Boss” or just “PHB.”

Source: Wikipedia