Lacey Smith

Federal Extortion

In Current Events, Politics on October 16, 2013 at 5:42 pm

It appears that Congress may have reached a deal today and that the partial federal shutdown might be coming to an end. In other words, the Republicans have realized that either way the American people lose and hopefully this way they will lose less and so they (the Republicans) are caving to the demands of the president and Senate democrats.

It’s a really shameful way to run the country, but this federal thuggary is what you get when your government gets far too big and the people get far too reliant on it’s services.

Meanwhile, all over America people are struggling. Some of them are having difficulty because of the uncertainty that comes with a partial government shutdown. But many more are struggling because they rely, in one way or another, on the federal government.

For example, the southern counties of Utah rely heavily on tourism dollars. Their economies are almost completely dependent on whether or not the federal government keeps the national parks open. In fact, a week ago, just a few days into the shutdown, nine Utah counties declared a state of emergency. When Utah brought a plan to the Feds to open the parks they said “Nope.” But then they so graciously allowed us to do it their way.

When I heard the news report, I immediately thought This feels an awful lot like extortion to me.

By definition, extortion is the act or practice of obtaining something by force, intimidation, or undue or illegal power. It’s possible to say that the House of Representatives or the Republicans were attempting to extort an Obamacare hiatus by their actions. It’s possible to say that the Senate, Democrats and the President were trying to (or may have succeeded) extort from the Republicans a short term spending bill and/or debt ceiling increase. While both sides bickered, the bureaucrats in D.C. were definitely involved in “helping” states suffer through this awful “crisis” which was created by a government that is frankly just too big.

See, when you have states, like Utah, who rely on the federal government for their economic success, it becomes very difficult for those states to maintain their independence. When something goes wrong, the federal government dictates the terms to the states and the states have very little choice but to accept those terms.

This has happened with our “free” public education system, medicare and medicaid, parks and rec, the highway system, WIC, SNAP and any place that a state receives federal assistance. When the states rely on the feds to buoy up a program, they give up piece of their independence until they really don’t have it anymore. And that means the federal government calls the shots.

One thing this partial federal government shutdown should show us is that we really need to reconsider our reliance on the federal government. There are lots of things that the states could do instead of the feds. They might not do it “better” but they can do it just as well. But they don’t because the feeds will take care of them. Right up until the feds don’t anymore. And then, you do it their way, on their terms, whatever they ask.

It’s extortion, but our state governments put us there. Congress shutdown “nonessential” parts of of the U.S. government. Maybe we should really consider those parts are worth continued funding or if we should give those responsibilities back to the states. Otherwise, we might be looking at another partial shutdown and more federal extortion in just a few short months.


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