By the time this edition of Athens Now hits the stands, there is a good chance that the history making shutdown of the Federal government will be over, but hopefully business will not just go back to normal. There are a number of ways to look at what happened—some folks are high fiving over the fact that legislators finally did what every day citizens must do if they are wanting to avoid financial collapse, and that is stop living beyond their means, put it on paper and sign it.
Others are feeling bullied. Services upon which they relied for years are no longer available, there are fears that food at the Arsenal Commissary will go bad and go to waste, one woman is irate that she can’t find any more bananas, and people are scrambling.
The only questions that seem to be reasonable in a situation like this are, how did we get here, and by that I mean, to the place that it became necessary to shut down the government, what do we do to get through, and where do we go from here?
If we take even a moderate political view of 20th century American history, we know that during FDR’s 16 year administration, people began to believe that the role of government was to provide for its constituents, rather than govern them. With enough time, the belief became that the government’s job is to plan for and provide for people’s retirement, pay for their medicine, their education, their housing, their child care, and as was proven by the abuses that occurred during Hurricane Katrina, their engagement ring, honeymoon, plastic surgery, and even a sex change operation.
I remember as a kid in the 60s that it was considered shameful to be on welfare, and when my dad was unemployed during a Boeing layoff, my parents lived off of their savings. This was normal. People were taught that you saved “for a rainy day.”
It might be prudent for the government to take a clue from the Greatest Generation, me thinks. But, at the risk of sounding hard hearted, what do we do to muddle through? We follow the example of the Hawaiians. When I was in Iraq, during the time that Katrina hit I had the privilege of being amongst the Hawaii 299th National Guard, and they told me about how they deal with storms.
When there were devastating storms, people from other islands got their own boats and filled them with building supplies, and headed out on their own inter island course to take care of those who had been hit. To get through this shutdown, we have to reach out to the single mom who normally relies on Head Start to take care of her kids, and watch them while she goes to work. We need to double up on donations at LCCI, mow a lawn, make a meal, pay a bill in short, do what neighbors used to do.
And how do we get out of this mess? Take back our independence by refusing to be dependent, even if it’s in the smallest ways, and elect legislators who will do the same. Don’t ever forget, the butterfly effect is real, and will still work long after we pay the piper.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner