The US Government shut down. It shut down. It ceased to function for 16 days. The US Government! Isn’t that the subject of some faraway Michael Bay film? The entire central nucleus of the biggest military powerhouse on the planet, the financial empire of the world… stopping.
Well, apparently not. Apparently the population of the US managed to get along pretty okay without their supreme leaders for 16 days. So did the rest of the world as it happens.
So a few national tourist attractions were shut down, but in the grand scheme of things some obese family’s annual holiday from Bumhole, Idaho to visit Mount Rushmore and clog their nikkons with out of focus pictures of the towering granite veneration isn’t too important – I’m sure they grabbed a couple of McCoronaries and a slurpie and were too pumped full of MSG and Aspartame to notice.
Well this makes me think, and I’m surprised that my thoughts aren’t shared by the media headlines at least – I’m sure what I’m about to splurge has occurred to other people. Unless I’m mistaken and am oversimplifying and misunderstanding the whole situation, the conclusion of the last 16 days is that the US population coped and got along fine without a central government, right?
I’m assuming the police forces, the fire services, the hospitals (which, admittedly are privatised, the fact of which was part of the reason for the Government shut down in the first place) all ran as normal. In which case, how did they manage such a feat? Well again I’m assuming (and yes that word is going to make a few appearances) that they were run at a local level, as, I’m assuming, is usually the case, right?
Certainly the Government managed to keep the nuclear defence system up and running throughout the administrative chaos because, as we all know, being able to obliterate those of the foreign persuasion in a devastating hellfire of radioactive destruction is much more conducive to the public good, and representative of a Governments mandate, than allowing its population to visit the representation of liberty, the one value on which the country was founded, personified in a robe adorned woman in French metal.
So essential public services ran as normal, the only people unable to work were those employed by central Government, happiness inducing public services were stalled but those capable of armageddon were fine and the result of the upheaval was the passage into law of ‘more time’ to come to a better conclusion and – most fundamentally – the raising of the Government borrowing limit which has so many zeros tacked onto the end of it anyway it looks like Sonic the Hedgehog should be spinning through them as they disappear with a ting and give him points.
I’m sure, also, that the IRS managed to keep going, right? They managed to keep collecting taxes to go towards paying off the national debt. This of course being a gross misuse of taxes in the first place, which should go towards improving a countries infrastructure, but coupled with the US Government then extending its overdraft it seems like a bit of an insult. The American people are like an exhausted housewife scrimping and saving to pay off the mortgage while her deadbeat Government husband comes home wasted after drinking them further into debt, and then, perhaps, slaps her around a bit for protesting on Wall Street (stretching the simile?).
So then it seems to me that the American people, and then by association, any people inhabiting a Western capitalist democracy (I’m excluding other systems simply because I don’t know enough about them) can get along fine without a central Government? Their prime purpose, simply from seeing what they continued to do, and what they ceased to do during the past few weeks, is to wage war and borrow money to wage more war. In which case, I don’t think they’re entirely necessary.
Okay so central Government is the portal to the world, a strong central Government leads to a prosperous nation which leads to a successful contender on the world stage in economic terms. But, isn’t this also unnecessary?
In political rhetoric, in pundit analysis, the economy – in terms of the stock market and of shares; digitised numbers running along the wall of a stock exchange – gets talked about as if it is the planet and all the people in it: “The economy is recovering”, “the economy is strong”. The economy, surely, is a means to an end, its a middle man, a human invented mechanism through which we achieve a higher standard of living for everyone. But it now has become, at least in a cultural sense, from my perspective, the be all and end all.
The economy – which, lest it be forgot, is a HUMAN INVENTION, we invented it, we created it, it didn’t exist prior to us, it is not some autonomous and sentient being – now is our master. Now people suffer in order to feed the beast. And it seems the only purpose a central Government serves is as coal feeder to the trains engine.
We can regulate ourselves on a local level, we can care for each other, we can make things, we can learn, we can create, we can decide our fates all on a local level.
Perhaps there is a place for central Government, and perhaps one day for a world Government so we can better compete on the Galactic stage (I hear the Clingon FTSE rose 10 points when they heard Benedict Cumberbatch was in Star Trek). But whenever there will be a time for centralised power, it would be detrimental for it to be in the hands of those in office now.