I am in Florida, visiting my Mother, coming from the dreary, gray days of Washington for my annual fix of vitamin D. My Mother lives within walking distance of a gulf coast beach (a county park -- the people's beach -- sandwiched in between the private stretches of beach owned by the various scions of earned wealth, inherited wealth, stolen wealth, but wealth, for sure). The weather is lovely. Warm sand between my toes, soothing waves, sun aplenty, all does a body good in the small doses that I have it. While I am here I have a chance to read the small town paper my mother subscribes to. Reading a newspaper is something I seldom do these days: at least with the same avid attention of even a decade ago, when, like many of us, I pleasurably read my local paper (the Chicago Sun-Times, unable for any reason to read the union-busting, fact-shilling Chicago Tribune) for its "locality" and the New York Times (just because). Not surprisingly (gulf coast Florida, relatively wealthy retiree community, south, small town), this newspaper is mostly conservative and shockingly, almost blithely ignorant about much of what it writes (which is very little). This newspaper rotates a number of nationally syndicated opinionists on its viewpoint page -- heavily weighted to the right. These are columnists I usually have heard of, but never read. And I find it edifying, if disheartening. (There are token socialists, of course, as there must be, er, that is, of the middle -- we mustn't stray too far afield, as heads might explode and worlds rock.)
Anyway, to my point. Recently I read a column by Lawrence Kudlow arguing that the Republicans in Congress should force a government shutdown. I won't take the time to debunk the nonsensical feats of illogic and misstatements of fact. Not because I can't, mind you, but it would take a little work to do the research -- a click or two, a cut, a paste, stringing a few sentences together, and, frankly, the ocean calls. The "upshot of last fall's elections," "overwhelming debt," the "minuscule price" of a shutdown. It all seems so tediously, ordinarily wrong on such a sunny day. But this part did raise my salubrious hackles:
Back in the the early ’80s, when I served in the OMB under President Reagan, we went through several brief government shutdowns. Yes, the Washington Monument and a bunch of public parks closed. So what? Non-essential personnel got a holiday. The rest of us had to work.
Ah, yes, noblesse oblige, indeed. Let's put aside the family vacations ruined. I will concede that such a result could be a small price to pay for a greater good. But I cannot put aside the much more fundamental condescension. When is there ever a need to mind the piss ants, after all? Houses will still be cleaned, lawns mowed, dinners served, consumption will be had, in the private sector upper echelons. Never mind the most of us middle/working class stiffs, some of whom work for, gasp, the federal government or its contractors, who actually require the next pay check (sometimes, two or three weeks ago), to pay a bill, buy some food, keep a house, fill a tank (car, propane), have light. Blah, blah, blah. It's our own damn fault. Credit card debt to pay a hospital bill? How can that be? Get a better job. No raise in three years? Slacker. To these ruling oligarchs the new(ish) American reality of living pay check to pay check, not to have boats, and hot tubs, and second homes, and closets full of shoes, and to support sundry other frivolous or wastrel habits (that is, "not my own"), but just to scrape by really is incomprehensible. Republican as cavalier.
Maybe these blatant attacks on a half century of working class progress in Wisconsin, and Ohio, and Indiana will finally inform those baffling number of preternatural Republicans (my father, alas, a factory-working union member all of his adult life) that Republicans, at least this new ilk, are not our friends. They DO NOT have our best interest at heart, or in mind. Mr. Kudlow did have one thing right in his column: his admonition that (in exhorting the GOP to go for the kill): this is the moment. It truly is. Failure here, by us, will have harsh consequences for many people TODAY. And, in the backs of their minds, these more strategic conservative thinkers also know that their days of power (and so, of opportunity) are numbered, as the demography of America bends inexorably, frighteningly away from them. Write in stone, they cry!
There. I know a riff off a few sentences in a minor column should not a diary make, but I had something to say, and Kos says I can. And if some of my friends have a few days, or weeks, or months off when the government shuts down, I know now to advise them to enjoy the leisure time, read a book, bake a cake (because if they can't have it, at least they can eat it).