Crisis averted? Or crisis delayed?

I was paying unusually close attention to the news this week, this big story of course being the thread of a government shut down. I had two reasons to be interested in this:

  1. Kelly is an employee of the Federal Government and a shutdown would have a direct affect on our bottom line.
  2. I like in the metro-DC area and a shutdown would have a direct effect on the region

As it turned out, a shutdown was averted. A budget was agreed to and both sides are claiming their victories. I’m a lifelong Democrat, but I have to day that I am bitterly disappointed with the behavior of both sides. The parades in front of the cameras yesterday and this morning provide clear evidence, to me, that the bargaining and deal-making was done in the best interest of the politicians, not the best interests of the people. The people, and specifically, the 800,000 federal employees were held hostage through this crisis.

Republicans and Democrats alike are already claiming victories and pronouncing flaccid sound-bites on how their side “won”. They are using that word. “We won!” Or this is a “victory” for “us”. Maybe a few will mention how this was a victory for the American people, but I have a difficult time seeing how. I get the feeling that if this was big business it would be the corporations that won and the consumers that got the short end of the stick.

Of course spending needs to be cut, but grow a backbone! Raise taxes, too. Sure, it hurts everyone, but we all sacrifice in the short term in order for the long-term benefit. But even the bravest politicians turn cowardly when it comes to raising taxes. Not because it is not the right thing to do, but because it is a virtual guarantee that they won’t get re-elected. So what? We shouldn’t have politicians in office who value their careers before the people they serve. We are a representative democracy and as such, we vote for people to make decisions on our behalf. That doesn’t mean do what we think you should do, that means do what’s best for everyone. Sometimes what’s best is not what we’d like. I hate going to the dentist, but I do it because it’s good for me.

Our politicians on both sides of the aisle haven’t averted a crisis, they’ve just delayed one. There is still a rather large deficit and it seems to me that the endless quest for growth is unsustainable. We need smarter, braver people in office if we are going to really weather this storm and come through on the other side. But we’ve become an instant gratification society with no thought for patience for the future.

So we’ll very likely get what we deserve.