We The People – OR – We The Puppets?

So here we are, American taxpayers experiencing another ridiculous ‘Government Shutdown’.  

Having worked as a Federal Employee most of my career with several years spent as an Analyst for the US Fish & Wildlife Service at the Washington DC Headquarters, I’ve grown to realize the lack of understanding that the general public has regarding the structure of our Federal Government.

I remember when I was in the eighth grade (1966), in order to graduate into High School everyone was required to attend “Constitution” classes and then pass the ‘Constitution Test’ in order to graduate.  I don’t think schools do this anymore – what a shame….  If they did, then maybe Americas younger generation would be a little more educated on how ‘their’ government is supposed to really work for them.

I remember studying for the Constitution test at the same time my mom was studying for her Constitution test – yes, we both had to pass a Constitution test – mine to graduate into high school, and hers to become a true American citizen.  You see, my mom was an immigrant from the Philippines who came to the United States “LEGALLY’ with her family after the Japanese bombed Manila. One of my aunts even lost a leg during the attack when a Japanese plane came down from the skies strafing the streets with machine gun fire and shot her leg off while she was sitting on a park bench.  My younger brothers and I were always intrigued with Aunt Dorie’s ‘Wooden Leg’ when we were young.  

I remember going to the Madison County Courthouse with my mom the day she was sworn in as a citizen of the United States of America – it was a proud day, and I couldn’t help but think that maybe I had helped a bit since she was my Constitution ‘Study Partner”.

I wonder how many young (and maybe even some old) American citizens realize that one of the most important tasks of our elected officials in Washington is to have an “APPROVED BUDGET” for our country on or before the close of business on September 30thof every year.  What a shame it is when the ones “We The People” elect can’t even do the one most important job they have – Establish and pass the country’s annual operating budget….  

How many people in the workforce would still have their jobs working for a company that gave them but one task and they didn’t perform?  Yet, our elected officials (and I Mean ALL of them) get away with keeping THEIR part time jobs at full time pay that THEY get to vote their own pay raises for, yet, We The People suffer through limited government that WE paid taxes for.

One of the sad parts of all of this is that once a budget is passed, all agencies in the Federal Government will have a limited time to spend or obligate a years’ worth of funds in a very short period of time.  The same people that were furloughed will now have to perform budgetary miracles in order to ensure a zero balance at the end of the fiscal year – pretty tough when instead of having twelve months to do their jobs they now only have six. Imagine if the major shareholders in a large construction company used this same budgetary framework to build high rise offices and condominiums – scary!  So, who’s really being punished?  We The People!

Many out there will read this and say to themselves, “It really doesn’t affect me, so why worry?”. Well, maybe it doesn’t affect you as much as it might me (financially speaking since Connie still works as a Federal Employee), but in the long run over time, you might just wake up one day and realize what was once “We The People” had morphed into an entire country of “We The Puppets”…..  By then, it might just be too damn late….  

In the meantime, since our elected officials were not able to finish THEIR task before September 30, 2018, maybe THEY should not be paid from October 1st until THEY do THEIR jobs and institute a fiscal year budget like THEY were hired (by American Citizens) to do in the first place.  If THEY can’t do that, then THEY don’t get paid – hell, its American tax dollars paying them an outrageous wage to do the jobs THEY were hired by US to do in the first place.

So, what will I be doing during this government shutdown?  The same thing I do every new year….  I stand in front of my copy of the Constitution of the United States of America that I have proudly hung on my living room wall and read it aloud and re-establish my faith in a country that provided safety to my Philippine mother and her family during WWII, and one that I was willing to give my life for in a very unpopular war back in 1971 when I joined the United States Navy.

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