Shutdown US Government deems parks and underfed babies less essential than the Congress heated pool and arresting poor blacks with drugs
WHO the hell decides what is and is not “essential”? That’s not a philosophical question about life, the universe and everything; I’m asking specifically about the idiotic “let’s play chicken with the whole country” federal-government-shutdown thing playing out here in America.
The way it works is, “essential” employees of the federal government still go to work and get paid, while everybody else stays home (and will likely get paid anyway, though not until after the shutdown ends). Check out who’s working and who’s not and it soon becomes obvious that, even by the standards of a creepy police surveillance state, the US government has seriously warped priorities.
Essential: the Drug Enforcement Administration, responsible for arresting and imprisoning anybody who uses intoxicants other than alcohol and prescribed pharmaceuticals, is open.
Not essential: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, responsible for monitoring and tracking contagious illness, switched to shutdown mode.
So if one of those deadly science-fiction-movie-type pandemic viruses breaks out during the shutdown, the government can’t track the spread of the contagion but will still arrest anyone trying unapproved forms of medical treatment.
Essential: the private gym and heated swimming pool where members of Congress can work out at taxpayer expense.
Not essential: the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program providing food assistance to extremely poor moms with extremely young kids.
Because where “essential use of taxpayer dollars” is concerned, helping a Congressman burn extra calories off his corrupt and flabby ass takes precedence over getting extra calories to hungry babies who aren’t getting enough. (Though perhaps that’s not a fair criticism to make. Cory Doctorow speculated the real reason the gym’s staying open is because so many Congressmen live in their congressional office suites and use the gym’s shower facilities to bathe. Can we really criticize them for that? Trying to cleanse Congressmen of their own foul stench isn’t “non-essential” so much as “a lost cause.”)
Not essential: America’s national parks and all the park rangers who staff them; hence, all the national parks are closed.
Essential: The National Park Service also “closed” the World War Two and Vietnam War memorials on the National Mall in Washington, DC, which are actually open-air monuments in the middle of a large, unenclosed public area. So the only way to “close” these monuments is to have staff set up temporary barricades blocking area usually open to everybody, requiring far more manpower than simply leaving them open ever would.
Also deemed essential were the Yellowstone park rangers who allegedly locked tourists in their hotel, and even prevented them from taking pictures of animals. Can’t let people have fun in national parks, but must scare the hell out of those who try. It’s all about priorities.