David Sirota, “GOP’s massive fraud: The shutdown isn’t really a shutdown!,” Salon, 06 October 2013
Of course, there is an insidious method to the madness of government shutdowns. In general, the dividing line between what gets shut down and what doesn’t is a similar dividing line between what America’s political culture typically venerates as The State and what that culture lambasts as The Government. Consider what will not be shut down:
- The State’s war machine is largely exempted from the shutdown. Sure, the Armed Forces’ football season is in jeopardy. But our wars will press on unabated and many military paychecks — including to private contractors — will continue to be issued, even as other federal workers are furloughed.
- Many key parts of The State’s surveillance apparatus are exempted from the shutdown. That’s not to say the shutdown affects nothing at the NSA. The agency cannot, for instance, respond to the public’s Freedom of Information Act requests (which is convenient for the NSA). And some of its employees are, in fact, furloughed. But a lot of the spying will still go on.
- Despite its failures and rampant waste, much of the Drug War is exempted from the shutdown. So are many of The State’s other police-related activities.
- The government shutdown does not affect the Internal Revenue Service’s ability to collect taxes. It only means you can’t get your tax questions answered.
- The lawmakers who orchestrated the government shutdown are exempted from the government shutdown. Yes, they will still be getting handsomely remunerated, without having to worry that they might lose their paychecks like other federal employees.
So, in sum, major portions of The State — aka the Military-Industrial Complex, the Police State, the revenue-generating apparatus of the IRS and professional politicians in Washington — are somewhat exempted from the effects of the shutdown. Meanwhile, The Government — aka the Safety Net, the Regulators and the Inspectors — gets hit hard.
At a practical level, this institutionalized double standard creates incentives for government shutdowns — at least on the political right. That’s because while conservatives loathe The Government, they love The State.
Remember, Republicans in Congress have historically been stalwart supporters of ever-larger defense budgets, more expansive surveillance, a persistent drug war and basic tax collection services to finance those expensive initiatives. Quite naturally, they also like to get paid, even when everyone else isn’t getting paid. Therefore, the laws that automatically exempt The State from government shutdowns effectively encourage Republican lawmakers to support said shutdowns. They get to close primarily the parts of the public sector they oppose — while protecting the parts of the public sector that they (and their campaign contributors) champion. …
Read the full article here.