Monthly Archives: April 2011

What the hell is going on upon The Hill?

For those of you who don’t know, I go to school in Washington, DC.  I’m a student of the GWU School of Engineering and Applied Science, currently studying computer science.  Often, the first question I’m asked after saying this is, ‘why are you at GW again?’  Well, I was originally a political science major (poli sci [not poly sci, people who write it that way are stupid]).  I took a few courses and, while I passed them all with satisfactory marks, I didn’t have the same level of enthusiasm as some of my peers.  So I started thinking about changing majors, but then I remembered that I wanted to rule the free world.  So I looked into partisan politics at my school.  And I realised that people are stupid.  No, not like the regular kind of stupid where I’m waiting behind somebody who doesn’t know how to use an ATM, I’m talking really stupid.  Finally getting to the point, this stupidity has caused me to write the following post:

For the last week or so, if you live in America, you heard people screaming about how the federal government was going to shut down due to the inability for Congress to authorize a budget.  Apparently there were demands from the Right, which were sent to the Left, who revised the demands and sent it back to the Right, who added more exclamation points and sent it back to the Left… and this went on forever.  Until something like five days ago.  Then everybody got more upset because of a stipulation that all budget proposals must sit for three days before being voted on or something.  So eventually we hit this three-day mark and an agreement wasn’t met so THE WHOLE COUNTRY WAS GOING TO BURN AND IT WALL ALL THE LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT-RIGHT-UP-UP-DOWN-DOWN-LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT-RIGHT-B-A-TEABAGGERS’ FAULT!!!  Well, that’s what it sounded like…nes11joy

See, I distanced myself leagues away from this issue.  That’s not to say that I didn’t know something was happening.  No, when my facebook and twitter feeds started exploding with libellous messages about political parties I hadn’t heard of, I figured that something was going on.  So I did what any GW student wanting to stay informed does, I went to the wendys-frostycafeteria and ate Wendy’s.  And while I was devouring a delicious FrostyTM , I watched one of the 14 flat screens playing CNN.  (This is more or less how I got the first half of the previous paragraph.)  Back to the distancing though, it’s easy to say that I’m lazy.  And I do say it, a lot, because I’m lazy and it’s easy (see how that works?).  But when it comes to this issue, it was more a matter of intelligence.  Not only did I realize that being indignant and/or in favour of either side would do nothing to bring about a resolution, unlike many of my peers, I also realised something else: that everybody is stupid and the politicians are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.  (Okay, that second part needs some clarification, but I’ll elaborate on the whole thing in the next few paragraphs.)

Magician Let’s start with “people are stupid”.  Done.  Next thing… Okay, fine, I’ll elaborate upon my obtuse invective. (I’m torn right now because I wanted to make a joke about stupid people and triangles, but I realised they never would have made it this far.  Damn my logical brain.)  In all honesty*, my issue with partisan politics, without devolving into the ‘they’re all hacks’ kind of argument, is that they’re (for the most part, some may be true statesmen) something between lawyers, conmen, and magicians.  (Some people would argue that I’ve basically listed the same thing three times.  They are grossly similar…)  And people trust them with a theoretical** amount of money.  That’s why people are stupid when they begin complaining.

Now for the more exciting part, why they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.  I feel that using the word “supposed” may have been misleading as most people believe that Congress is supposed to be improving the country, not having pathetic squabbles that may force people to look for alternative work during a furlough.  However, they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing as politicians (conmen, lawyers, and magicians).  Simply put, they maintain these charades to build up a rapport with their constituents.  By not settling for the minimum cuts proposed by Democrats, the Republicans can maintain the message that they’re spendthrift and devoted to cutting the deficit.  Likewise, by not agreeing to all the cuts proposed by Republicans, the Democrats will continue to say that they have America’s best interests at heart and are maintaining necessary services for American citizens. 

For the most part though, all of the cuts and programs, it’s pointless.  Individual members of congress will only jump at porkbarreling (“minor” additions to bills that provide funding for things in their hometown to win over district voters) and major, publicized issues that they’ll be able to stand behind later.  In fact, that’s why this is going on.  By not passing a budget, for which the difference between the two parties’ proposals is merely a drop in the ocean at this point, they’ve managed to gain a ridiculous amount of publicity.  This same publicity is what they’ll use to influence voters next year when they’ll claim to have fought for the programs you deserve or that they’re true to getting the country out of a financial hole.  Either way, regardless of what side you’re on, your still profiting from this “disaster”. 

BUT TOM, IF THEY DON’T PASS A BUDGET, THE CONGRESS PEOPLE DON’T GET PAID!!!  WHY WOULD THEY DO SOMETHING THAT KEEPS THEM FROM GETTING THEIR OWN PAYCHECKS?!?!?!  Thanks for asking, concerned reader.  Well, it really doesn’t make a difference to them.  While the salary is certainly… important, to congress (who actually sets their own salaries…) it’s not a huge issue.  These aren’t people who live paycheck-to-paycheck and they know that they’ll have a budget long before they even begin thinking about low balances. 

So that’s why the craziness in the media and among my peers is stupid.  But wait, here’s the kicker.  A resolution, (not an official budget, but an agreement to continue paying people until a budget is passed (or September, whichever comes first), was passed last night.  For the most part, it was highly in favour of the Republicans.  So, by looking at the state of government-sponsored programs or their spending records, it seems that the Republicans won.  And that’s true, they definitely won a larger victory here, especially so if imagesyou’re Boehner (who probably looks something akin to the messiah right now).  However, from a rhetorical/focused-on-being-re-elected standpoint, both sides won.  Republicans have proved themselves to their constituents, and, as long as they didn’t vote in favour of the initial proposals, Democrats can blame the effects on a Republican majority in the House and wanting to make sure that hard-working people got paid.

In the end, the real person who lost was you (American citizens, if you’re an international reader… I’m honestly surprised that you read this).  You were lied to, convincingly, and have probably been manipulated by media coverage and politicians to continue to further their agenda.  But who am I kidding, right?  If you watch a politically-charged news outlet and actually know who your congressmen are, you’re probably going to vote for them again unless they seriously change their platform to whatever you despise.  So, all of this was pretty much moot.  But if you’re not old enough to vote, don’t vote, or are actually moderate, well, think about it.

 

*Mini-tangent: I once learned that saying this is often an attempt at reinforcing a false statement because the person saying it doesn’t believe that it will be accepted.  Ergo, upon hearing this, one should question the veracity of the statement. 

**I say “theoretical” because, as the congressmen and women discuss it, it’s merely figures in a document.  I also use “theoretical” because they can determine virtually any amount they please. 

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