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Joe Soucheray: The Washington class stands for something. It’s not you.
By Joe Soucheray
POSTED: 10/05/2013 10:57:01 PM CDT | UPDATED: 4 DAYS AGO
The government is partially shut down, by which we are to understand that mostly the symbolic parts of government are shut down — national parks, memorials, museums and the like. These kinds of attractions are apparently considered nonessential. And to my understanding, the employees who work for the parks and the museums and the memorials have had their paychecks placed on hold.
We are essentially shielded from the thousands of people who work for the Department of Labor Statistics or the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Energy, which has never produced any energy, but put a Smokey Bear hat on somebody and we snap to attention.
Our veterans, God love them, having inconveniently arrived in Washington during the so-called shutdown, shoved aside the barriers and visited the World War II memorial anyway. They are America. Why, if it wasn’t for them, those memorials would never have been built and federal workers would be speaking German.
In any event, members of Congress are working, haltingly and not efficiently. That means they are standing around and either taking or making a phone call once in a while. We think that they are not very good at what they do, what they do having gotten away from us over the last 60 years or so. They approve $1 million green flushless outhouses for a national park that is now closed and they might designate a national insect and they were careful to keep a few thousand employees at the Internal Revenue Service so that money might still be collected.
Just not paid out.
By logical reasoning, the members of Congress are non-essential and therefore should not be paid. But they are being paid, even though they shut down the government that pays them. I guess they can walk down the hall to the payroll department and say, “I still want to be paid.” They have the option of not being paid, but not before they instruct their aides to call a news conference so that they can tell the rest of us saps that they are donating their paychecks to charity.
We, the employers, are being told by our employees that they can be paid, even though they shut down the apparatus we hired them to maintain.
It is appalling and embarrassing and chilling.
Why is it chilling? Well, if you look at what has happened over the past 60 years or so — an arbitrary length of time that seems to capture the dynamic — we have allowed the political class to exist as not a part of America life, but a class of people running parallel to it. The career attracts to it people who, generally speaking, have not participated in typical American pursuits and, in fact, might find those pursuits disagreeable. Their holding political power is a means to correct the behavior of those of us running on a parallel track — what we drive, what we eat, how we work, how we should insure ourselves.
A local example would be light rail. Not many of us wanted it or asked for it, but we have elected mayors and council people who, once ensconced, are building light rail because they believe that our traditional means of transportation, the automobile, is irresponsible.
I do not feel represented by any of them right now, locally or nationally, Democrat or Republican. They exist only to serve themselves and the parallel life that a political career has allowed them to carve out in America, a life of their power, their imagined importance, their insulation from economic downturn, the soapbox they stand on to lecture the rest of us who are working and paying taxes and raising families and who only wish not to be constrained at every imaginable fork in the road.
Out of this mess might come a great awakening. We need to elect people who like us and who like the America we are striving to maintain.
Joe Soucheray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-228-5474. Soucheray is heard from 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays on 1500ESPN.