The shutdown that was, or wasn’t, or …

Farce (noun)

1. A comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations. 2. Congress and the president.

The continued shutdown of the federal government reminds us of a couple of kids. One has a deflated ball, the other an air pump. They won’t share, and go home in a huff. And that means none of the other kids get to play either.

The so-called federal shutdown and the ensuing scare tactics are sophomoric at best, and, at worst, highlight a Congress that has no concept of reality.

Before we proceed, we realize this shutdown has an immediate impact on hundreds of thousands of people — those governmental employees who are currently without a paycheck. Playing games with real people’s mortgages, car payments and other bills shows Congress doesn’t really get it. We are in no way attacking those employees who would rather be doing their jobs.

With that exception, what about this shutdown?

In various news reports from the Associated Press and other national newspapers, more than 60 percent of the government workforce is still at work. Social Security is still being paid, Medicare and Medicaid recipients are still getting their benefits, the TSA is still picking on little kids and grandmothers at airports, food stamps are going out, unemployment is being paid, and the list goes on.

Oh, and Congress and the president are being paid. And the Congressional gym remains open. So does Camp David, the presidential retreat. The IRS is still collecting taxes. According to U.S. Senator Paul Rand, about 85 percent of all government activities are still being funded.

So what is shut down? The cameras at the National Zoo showing the pandas. Open-air monuments and national parks. On the latter, the government — remember, it’s in “shutdown” — has installed fences around war monuments to keep 90-year-old veterans in wheelchairs away.

You might be facing delays in getting a firearms permit; government loans for small businesses are on hold; The Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Commerce and Energy are pretty much shuttered.

On a more serious note, the Agriculture Department’s Women, Children and Infants program, which helps feed more than 9 million Americans, is out of money; Housing and Urban Development can’t provide local authorities with housing vouchers; Homeland Security won’t continue its E-verify program to check immigration status; many Veterans Administration programs will be curtailed or delayed; and the Justice Department will suspend most civil cases.

And the most heinous of all? Family members of five American soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan over the weekend will not be getting the standard $100,000 “death gratuity” to help pay for funerals and other expenses until the shutdown ends.

In a nutshell: people who need the government the most are impacted the most, and those who want to enjoy any national parks or monuments need to make other plans. Who’s not impacted? Congress and the president — the very ones who got us in this mess.

TIme for a papal vote. We stick all the representatives and senators in a room and lock the door. They sleep on cots, no electronics. Short potty breaks. It’s time they start feeling some of the pain they are inflicting on the people they are supposed to represent.



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