Who Benefits from the Government Shutdown? Hint: It’s Not the Poor or Middle Class

boehner-laughThere are many frustrating things about this government shutdown; from theatrics and whining by the Tea Party responsible for this irresponsibility in the first place, to the false equivalency reported (“Both sides are responsible!”) by both news media and talk show hosts (looking at you Jaw Leno!); to the inevitable credit downgrade that we’ll receive as a result of this foolishness (which will predictably lead to more austerity measures – so, again, Republicans will get what they want), to of course the ways that this shutdown – like most skirmishes in Washington – most affects and hurts the poor, the working class, and people with disabilities (in this case, particularly veterans).

Why can’t a government shutdown ever be used to protect the poor and the vulnerable?

Why can’t we continue to fund WIC? Isn’t the program embarrassing and problematic enough? It’s based around bothersome coupons and, in some states, mandatory training sessions where they teach parents how to change diapers and not give their newborns soda pop in their bottles. Do they have to deem the mothers and infants who use it as “unnecessary”?

And yet oil and gas companies and megabillion-dollar corporations will still get their tax breaks. And someone in congress – say Rep. Joe “Wind Harness Causes Global Warming” Barton – will continue to vigorously protect them.

And immigrant detentions and deportations are still continuing. Despite the fact that most locked up and sent away are guilty of nothing but being born on the wrong side of an imaginary line and deciding that shouldn’t be their destiny.

Continuing the Military Industrial Complex is also considered necessary, despite the fact that our military is still significantly larger than the next five nations’ militaries combined? Despite the fact that it eats half of our budget each year?

The War On Poor Children’s Education that is No Child Left Behind is also continuing. Or at least no one told me that my child wouldn’t be spending valuable class time learning how to fill out bubble sheets and check the appropriate box on a computer screen. Nope, while children of the wealthy receive valuable thought-provoking instruction and plenty of room for discovery with arts, music, literature, and creativity – all essential for critical-thinking, content-building, and context-wielding – our children are learning how to take tests. This supported by our federal government and the much-wasted Department of Education.

So, to be clear: Deportations are deemed necessary because immigrants are that threatening to us. Really? But some nine million poor women and children are not deemed important. Seriously? Blowhard, do-nothing congresspeople are considered necessary, apparently, even when they sleep on the job or blather on about how evil it is to insure poor and sick people. C’MON! An incredibly over-bloated military continues to grow. Oh, and of course, multinational corporations will continue to receive massive tax breaks while the rest of us struggle to find loose change.

It feels as if this entire shutdown is an exercise just so we know what is important and who is not important.


When he’s not riding both his city’s public transit system and evil mayor, Jasdye teaches at a community college and writes about the intersection of equality and faith - with an occasional focus on Chicago - at the Left Cheek blog and on the Left Cheek: the Blog Facebook page. Check out more from Jasdye in his archives as well!


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