The following post showed up in my Facebook feed the morning after the federal government was shut down. (Again.) It was posted by a young woman whose intelligence and compassion I admire, but whose wisdom and logic are sometimes lacking:
Our “Family Values” President pays off Porn stars he slept with while his 3rd wife was pregnant and Republican controlled Congress shut itself down. I just can’t handle all this winning.
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico still has no power.
Her post is typical of the 21st century grasp on politics and public policy: Someone is to blame, and it isn’t my team. So let me muddy the waters with some non-sequiturs and ad hominem attacks. Because the other side is always wrong, no matter what they do, no matter which team I’m on. Here’s how I responded:
“I don’t think he’s ever been a “family values” president (whatever that means) and it was primarily the Democrats who blocked the vote to extend the budget. But other than that….”
What followed was a flurry of comments defending Democrats and blaming Republicans, ending with “Republicans don’t want a deal, they want to blame the other side, same as always.” I found this hilarious, since the post began with my friend blaming the Republicans for everything from infidelity (a bi-partisan issue if ever there was one) to shutting down the government (when 90% of Republicans voted to extend) to the hurricane in Puerto Rico.
I laughed at the irony of how circular and disingenuous a blame game becomes—beginning with my friend implying that people who value marriage and good parenting and integrity would support Trump’s infidelity.
But the federal budget is no laughing matter. Here’s what we could do, instead of looking for someone to blame for this temporary shutdown of the federal government (which has been done many times before, and has always ended in Congress voting to award back pay to those who were temporarily furloughed):
The Real Issues
How about we address the real issue? How about we stop raising the debt ceiling and kicking the can trillions of miles down the road? How about we reduce government spending and live within our means?
If we want to do some blaming, how about we blame business for an economy where two million fewer people are getting food stamps this year than last year, because they’re working now–and paying taxes! Win win for the budget (and I kind of have to share the blame with the Republicans this year, truth be told).
How about we get out of the Middle East and stop dropping expensive bombs on dusty villages? That could reduce the budget by billions and keep a few national parks open. Heck, how about we privatize those national parks?
How about we stop incarcerating people for smoking or selling pot? That could save $70,000 a year per inmate, plus the cost of a lifetime of welfare when they get out because no one wants to hire them, plus the cost of enforcing the war on drugs.
How about we consider an across-the-board spending cut in every federal department? That would motivate bureaucrats to look for places where they’re wasting money, instead of looking for places to “use it or lose it.” That’s what families have to do when they earn less than they want to spend. Balancing the budget is a true “family value” that I could support.
I didn’t vote for Trump (although I was glad Hillary lost). I’m not defending any politicians here. I just want the blaming and divisive team politics to end. Let’s look for genuine solutions to problems, instead of looking for someone to blame.
Jo Ann Skousen is founding director of the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival and co-producer of FreedomFest, “the world’s largest gathering of free minds,” which meets July 11-14, 2018, in Las Vegas. For information go to www.freedomfest.com or call 1855-850-3733 ext 202.