A New Vacuum Still Sucks

« July 2005 »

Memo to Minnesota's thriving bum-tossing community: YOU ARE DUMB.

I'm not talking about assaults on the homeless here. This is the land of Minnesota Nice, where we just ignore them. Or even better, set up a circular money flow where we give them money, then take it back in the form of Lotto and state-run casinos. But the people of Minnesota are in an unusually high dudgeon, and as is often the case when the dudgeon gets up where the air is thin, the thinking starts getting even muddier than usual.

You see, our state government is in the midst of a "partial shutdown". Since they didn't finish the budget on time, they had to shut down the "non-essential" portions of any department they didn't pass a budget for. Basically health, transportation, and education. So nine thousand "non-essential" state workers have stayed home for a couple of days, the various factions are blaming each other and trying to look good, and the people are doing what people do. Be annoying.

The actual reason for the shutdown is that the Democratic legislature and the Republican governor have wildly divergent goals. The Democrats want to pay teachers and let poor people go to the doctor, and the Republican governor doesn't want to piss off Grover Norquist and ruin his chances at higher office by raising taxes. It's a fairly straightforward political conundrum, complicated by the American political climate circa 2005 in which actual compromising has been replaced by merely telling reporters you TRIED to compromise.

The stupidity on the public's side started before the shutdown, when the legislature went into special session 'cause they didn't get the budget finished a month or so ago either. It took the form of the following sentiment, condensed and extracted from dozens of letters to the editor and overheard comments. MANUFACTURED QUOTE TIME!

"You know, if I didn't get MY work done on time at MY job, my boss wouldn't keep paying me MY salary for another four weeks while I tried to get something accomplished!"

There are two huge problems with this Joe Sixpack kind of reasoning. First, have these people never temped? And second, maybe governing the state is slightly differnt, job-wise, than your shitty nine-to-five. Not better, but certainly different. The budget is not comparable to the 30 pages of data entry you have to do this week. There are real issues, affecting real lives, at stake in how the government spends its money, and sometimes those issues need to be fought over. And fought for. The issue isn't "did they get it done", it's "what didn't get done, and why?" Then you can make an EDUCATED FUCKING DECISION about who to be pissed off at.

But that would require work, wouldn't it? So instead, now that the shutdown's in place, just do what you're doing already. Run around shouting about how you're gonna "throw the bums out" come election time. I keep hearing "anybody but the incumbents". Apparently, every single office holder, regardless of rank, position, power, party, or action, is to blame for the shutdown, and they should all be replaced.

Brilliant idea, geniuses. Eliminate all vestiges of experience from the equation, without actually solving the fucking problem. Where are these non-incumbents going to come from? They're going to be nominated to run for office. By the two major political parties. And their associated organizations and machines. With the same exact fucking agendas as the guys in office who can't agree now. The only difference is, the ones now don't need to be shown where the cafeteria is.

You're the ones that voted in a "no new taxes" governor, because you're selfish and greedy and can't think ahead three years to when all of a sudden shit costs more and the books are as cooked as they can be. You people picked the guys that are, according to you, fucking up the job as it is! And now you want to be trusted to pick a whole new batch? Pardon my concern for your track record, which I believe the 101 Dalmations just looked at and said "Danm, that's spotty."

So go ahead. Throw the bums out. It'll make you feel better, and you can practice your rhetoric for the next budget cycle. But remember this - the opposite of shutdown is SHUT UP.