This ridiculous shutdown hits close to home

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The politics of the government shutdown is bad enough, but now there was a threat to the livelihood of a loved one.

By Steve Doyle

There is uncertainty in the land today. Our mighty government has struck out.

That means different things to each of you. It means something entirely different to me today than it did in 1995, when such stupidity ruled.

That’s because I realized that a shutdown could have meant my son wouldn’t get paid this week.

His children – both under the age of 4 – and his wife may not have had money to buy groceries or pay the mortgage. A man who has made responsible decisions and leads an honorable life may have found his family’s security and stability at flux for reasons completely out of his control – or the control of most of us.

You see, he’s a Marine. He defends our country. He is a professional.

But as of Tuesday he might not have received his already inadequate paycheck because he is a personified pigskin being kicked back and forth by men and women who care only about themselves and little about the fate of our country.

Politics is the toe that moves the ball.

I abhor this process. I abhor leadership that does not place the greater good of the public at the forefront of its decision making. I abhor politics doing what it does – separating good people from good decisions.

Yet that’s the exercise that we continue to see. It’s almost as predictable as the NFL has become. Wake us when it’s over or tell us what will happen to us. But get out of our faces with your rhetoric and histrionics.

Yes, today I’m just angry.

As upset as I can get about cutting benefits for the disabled, shutting down assistance for the poor, stymieing our ability to do business or closing our national treasures – such as the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon or even Mammoth Cave – you now are dealing directly with my family.

That doesn’t work with me.

My son went twice to Afghanistan to defend our nation. Surely his family has a right to eat and thrive.

But, no, because some members of one party think their jobs are more important than my son’s – and, really, is there a member of Congress more important than any member of the Armed Forces? – they are willing to shut down the government and leave him as a potentially unpaid employee, unlike themselves, we should add.

Maybe he should have sat down and not agreed to fight the intruders in Afghanistan on behalf of world peace.

Maybe the fact that he pays taxes on his salary, which would go to pay his salary, doesn’t matter.

That we all pay taxes apparently doesn’t matter. A few dozen ostriches who control this madness don’t really care what’s going on around them except that they are around in their jobs for another two years.

It seems as if some members of the House are so committed to trying to eliminate an effort to improve health care for Americans. They don’t like the Affordable Care Act, by golly, so they’re going to show you that they can stop it.

Wrong. They can’t. And they shouldn’t try. Not this way.

Why should opposition to that law – a large chunk of that opposition because it does not go far enough, which its Congressional critics ignore – be a factor in determining how to continue to support an insolvent company, aka our government.

If, after all, the new health-care law represents new taxes, as some critics suggest, that would mean more revenue for a country in need of the revenue.

Truly, this is a broken machine.

The government demands every penny of our tax payment in a ridiculously cumbersome and unfair process that spends far more money than it saves for true needs, actually subtracting billions to accommodate unnecessary regulations before it fills the revenue pool it is supposed to generate.

I’m not opposed to paying taxes. We need services in our country.

We need schools, roads, support for those who have difficulty supporting themselves – including health insurance – and, yes, national security.

Those are the men and women who put their lives on the line to preserve all of us. They determine our actuarial tables as surely as do accountants for insurance companies. They keep the bad guys at bay.

But now, the true bad guys want to use political reasons not to pay these men and women.

They devalue all who serve and ever have served.

Can you imagine where we would be as a nation if Gen. Washington at Valley Forge had been told the meager compensation and supplies for his army were going away because politicians considered their “causes” were more important than his?

If you know me, you know I am apolitical. I am aligned with neither party. I vote for the person I think best for the job, even when the choices are ridiculously inadequate.

Perhaps that inadequacy is why we seem to be left with politicians who are trying to be cute poets rather than leaders. So, for Sen. Ted Cruz and others who have spouted verse on the floors of Congress, I devote a ditty adapted from a childhood favorite:

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land, sanity has taken flight;

The bands aren’t playing anywhere, paychecks are really light;

Somewhere men are shouting; and somewhere children pout.

For there is no joy in the USA – mighty Congress has struck out.