MICHAEL BENNETT: The Federal Government and The Hunger Games

While everyone in the media, including much of the conservative media, is busily wailing and gnashing teeth over the imagined horrors of the possibility of a federal government “shutdown”, no one seems interested in the positive aspects of such an event.

Forbes recently reported that 6 of the top 10 counties in terms of median income are now in the Washington Metro area. http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomvanriper/2013/04/25/americas-richest-counties/ When you throw in Los Alamos County, New Mexico, which is almost entirely dependent on Federal money for the National Laboratory, the Feds account for 70% of the richest counties in the country.  The best the greedy Wall Streeters can manage is two financial industry bedroom community counties in New Jersey.  Aspen/Vail Colorado rounds out the top ten.

Our situation is eerily reminiscent of the novel The Hunger Games, in which impoverished districts sent food, fuel and materials to an imperial capital, where the pampered inhabitants amuse themselves with bread and circuses.  In modern America, the income and benefits for federal capital workers is about twice the national average.

The main difference in scenarios is that in modern America, the capital keeps us in line by bribing us with our own money, in the form of entitlement programs and other government largesse, while in the book the capital used violence and fear.  The fictional districts had to foment an armed revolution in order to throw off the yoke of the capital, while all we would have to do is find and elect some politicians with the guts to throw a muzzle on the capital beast.

And by happy accident, we may have found them.  Spurred on by the much reviled Senator Ted Cruz (R) Texas, congress and the president may find themselves “shutting down the federal government”, by which is meant “shutting down non-essential functions of the government, while keeping the important stuff going, the Social Security checks flowing, and providing full back pay to all the furloughed federal workers once the dust settles”.   Typically a shutdown is all for show.  The media work very hard to find some “non-essential” function that might be essential to someone, or to dig up some wholesome middle class family that has their long-planned trip to Yellowstone Park cancelled by the heartless villainy of Republicans (it’s always Republicans, don’t you know).

But what if we got serious about it?  Instead of giving back pay to all those non-essential federal employees once the current controversy is resolved, let’s give them pink slips and unemployment benefits.  Get rid of the Assistant Undersecretary for Bisexual Educational Outreach, most of the partisan hacks at the IRS, and whoever it is who is doing such a dreadful job overseeing the Obamaphone program.  http://www.nationalreview.com/article/358501/fraud-obamaphone-inc-jillian-kay-melchior  Then maybe shut down all the functions the non-essential personnel oversaw.  With any luck, we could achieve a situation in which those who work FOR us in Washington don’t have any better compensation than those of us who are paying them.

May the odds be always in our favor.