Defaulting, after all, would present a serious danger to the current order, and not for reasons remotely related to ethics and morality, crime and punishment, winning wars, or whatever it is the government is supposed to promote and provide. The last time the government shut down in 2019, the world stubbornly refused to end – pizzas were still delivered, cars still started up, and Facebook still served up carefully curated selections of your friends’ lives, minus all the difficult bits. Indeed, the average person was hardly affected at all – leaving some to wonder what exactly was the point of propping up the profoundly pricey establishment in Washington.
When Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen trotted out her office’s semi-annual Chicken Little routine earlier this month, declaring the sky would fall should Congress fail to strike a deal to avoid default, it was that much less urgent than the previous call to raise high the debt ceiling. Perhaps sensing that Americans weren’t going to fall for this perpetually cycling crisis indefinitely, Yellen even declared on Thursday that the debt ceiling should be permanently abolished – the better to avoid future clashes in which a damning quorum of Congresscreatures tells the federal government which pays its salaries to drop dead.
The idea of Congress biting the hand that feeds it is a mere pipe dream, of course, but that hand is no longer feeding the American people – at least, not the poor, working, or middle classes. The average person has nothing to lose should the debt ceiling crack – nothing they weren’t going to lose anyway thanks to the rapacious greed of private equity vultures like BlackRock, Blackstone Group, Vanguard and the rest of the sinister faceless entities that have sliced and diced Americans’ futures into a worthless pile of collateralized debt obligations, asset-backed securities backed by worthless ‘assets’, and other essentially worthless financial instruments.
Americans who don’t work for the government or receive benefits run little risk of being affected by a shutdown, and while Washington goes to great lengths to present the nation as a massive, interconnected beast working together for the glorious cause of Our Democracy™, such a shutdown leaves the vast majority of Americans untouched and possibly even better off. Who wouldn’t rather keep their tax dollars than send off checks into the IRS’ ravening maw?
A cynic might observe the past 18 months of government largesse – fat unemployment checks, renters’ aid, and the like – as an effort to bait a colossal hook with as many benefits as possible in order to get a majority of the country addicted to sucking on the government teat. Certainly, it’s more difficult to tell Washington to stick its vaccine mandates where the Sun doesn’t shine when one relies on the goodwill of the entity wielding those mandates to feed one’s family.
Just as small businesses were encouraged to take out loans during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic on unusually favorable terms, some with the implication that they need not even be paid back, individuals have been encouraged to seek out government assistance under numerous pandemic aid programs, often with hidden strings attached.
Washington does not give away something for nothing, and just as many of the nation’s ‘healthcare heroes’ are being kicked to the curb – a mere year after being hailed as the saviors of humanity – for dodging or even criticizing the new vaccine regimen, those who’ve grown accustomed to collecting $600 weekly checks to stay home and make the unemployment rate look less catastrophic than it really is are having the rug pulled out from under them. Their relatively new-found loyalty to Uncle Sam is part of what the Biden administration is counting on to keep Congressional Republicans from calling its bluff – not that the GOP isn’t just as eager to bring back a massive pork haul to their own districts.
When Biden swooped in on Thursday to avert a government shutdown at the last minute, signing the bill that will keep Creepy Uncle Joe’s DC Roadshow alive for another two months, it was anything but an act of heroism aimed at saving the nation from chaos and collapse (and Covid-19). It was instead a last-ditch effort to dupe Americans into believing the creature with its boot on their neck is critical to their survival.
This creature, a repugnant hybrid of government, Big Business, and international banking cartels, does nothing for ordinary Americans beyond lying to them about the suffering it perpetuates in their names, and occasionally punctuating those lies with physical abuse. Like any archetypal abuser, its goal is to so thoroughly gaslight and confuse its victim that they have no choice but to cling to it as the sole source of stability in a world they’re told they could never navigate alone. One need only listen to the hoary old refrain that still emerges from the venerable defenders of Uncle Sam’s worst atrocities – “you’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists.” Some 20 years later, it’s impossible to deny “we” are the terrorists. Shutdown must be avoided at all costs, lest it lead to introspection and the realization that we’ve been lied to since we were old enough to crack a civics textbook.
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