Sequester Me!

sequestrationAs our duly elected officials sprint toward sequestration, I am underwhelmed with worry. Don’t get me wrong–I recognize that cutting 42 billion dollars from defense, 600 million from border security, and various other dollar amounts that are so large they seem meaningless has the potential to be a big deal. I have a great deal of sympathy for federal workers, especially the congressional staff who will take a 20% cut while their bosses are held harmless.

I have even more sympathy for those on medicaid, medicare and other government programs who now live with even more uncertainty regarding vital services that might keep them solvent (or, even more importantly, alive). I have colleagues with NSF grants who are being told to stop spending money and prepare to fire their lab assistants. I’m in now way unaware of the negative impact this governmental pissing contest will have.

But I’m also growing so weary of the governmental disaster of the month that I want out of the club or off the mailing list or, perhaps, I just want sequestered from it all. I’m waiting for someone to start selling ribbons like they do for AIDS or Breast Cancer. We could do red ribbons for Debt Ceiling Month, Black Ribbons for Tax Cut Week, and Green Ribbons for April 15. Is it racist to propose Brown Ribbons for Border Security Month?

The problem, of course, isn’t that we don’t have fundamental issues at the federal level. As I’ve mentioned in past blogs, when we elect leaders based on their willingness to own (or not own) a gun, their stance on gay marriage, and their beliefs on abortion, we get what we deserve on the economy. More to the point, when we elect the loudest person who gets the most press, we get bad government. I propose that anyone who references Hitler or Nazi Germany now be banned from American politics.

More to the point, I think we should have a hyperbole meter instead of truth or fact checkers. Such a tool would help me decide if, in fact, I really need to panic about sequestration. On the one hand, President Obama is parading police, veterans, old people, children, puppies, and anyone else who might tug on my heart strings so he can convince me “SEQUESTRATION IS BAD AND THE REPUBLICANS ARE WORSE!”

On the other hand, the Republicans are parading President Obama in front of me trying to convince me “HE IS THE DEVIL AND IT’S ALL HIS FAULT (and he doesn’t really shoot skeet)!”

Both sides are convinced our military will collapses, our old people will die, and our borders will be overrun. It is, they tell us, the collapse of America.

Again. Didn’t America collapse under George Bush? When we invaded Iraq? When we appointed Justice Roberts? When Obama was elected? When we passed Obamacare?

Feel free to add your own apocalyptic memory here.

Except we didn’t collapse and we haven’t. Beyond the fact that the current political mentality strikes me as pretty counter-productive (“just because I insult him on a daily basis and question his patriotism doesn’t mean we can’t work together” politicians might say), such attitudes also assume life works on a linear, chronological plain: A causes B and that causes C. Such a thought process assumes C will occur just because A occurs.

Except that it doesn’t. If the sequester causes massive turmoil and our military shuts down, causing China to design invasion plans, I have a feeling our government would find all that lost bi-partisanship we used to have. If hordes of criminals and drug dealers invade Laredo, TX, I’ll bet we find a solution to sequestration. If our schools collapse without federal dollars and elementary kids are forced to recycle cans, mow yards, and clean their school toilets, I’ll bet something changes.

The reality is, though, we don’t really know what will happen when sequestration starts because human beings (that includes most of Congress) will adjust. In essence, and I hate to wax philosophical, just because A happens doesn’t guarantee C.

This doesn’t mean, by the way, that I want sequestration to take place. The reality is, like most Americans, I want our politicians to put on their grown-up clothes and find a way to work together instead of spending time constantly running for re-election. If they can’t think of a solution, I know there are groups of old men sitting in Dairy Queens across America who have already solved this problem. Every morning for the last 10 years.

But what I really want is for my elected officials to dial it back a notch. Everything that happens in Washington isn’t the end of the world. Just because President Obama likes something doesn’t make it evil, and someone needs to tell Ted Cruz disagreeing with him doesn’t make someone a communist. And Vice President Biden should just have a 5 second delay every time he opens his mouth.

In the meantime, I think I’m going to volunteer for jury duty and hope we get sequestered. With my luck, though, they will cut the funding for that right before the trial.

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About John Wegner
John Wegner is a Professor of English where he also serves as the Dean of the Freshman College. He and Lana, his wife, have been married over 25 years. They are the parents of two great sons who (so far) haven't ever needed bail money.

2 Responses to Sequester Me!

  1. Dad says:

    When I used to submit a budget proposal for an increase, it was a request to add a program or increase a service or salaries. If it was denied I just operated on the same money I had last year. This so-called “2.5 % cut” that is supposed to cause calamity is a request for an increase in the budget (which they don’t have one of). It is NOT a decrease in the amount of money they had to operate on last year, it is a decrease in the amount of money they are requesting for next year. Am I right? If so, how can it cause such a problem?

  2. Pingback: The LIBRE Initiative Calls on Government Officials to Cut Spending and Balance Budget | Gadaboutblogalot's Blog

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