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Shutdown of federal government accomplishes nothing worthwhile


Oct. 2, 2013
By G. Michael Dobbs

news@thereminder.com

In order to save the village we had to destroy it.

That seems to be the theme of people on Congress who would rather risk the economic health of the nation in order to defund a program that a previous Congress had approved and the Supreme Court had deemed legal.

I understand the argument: the government shouldn’t force people to buy health insurance and the health insurance industry shouldn’t be forced to offer coverage to people it normally wouldn’t. And yes, I’ve heard that many businesses view this as a terrible thing as they will be forced to offer health plans to employees that normally have none.

It’s not apparently a terrible thing to make people go to emergency rooms and receive treatment they can’t afford. That’s acceptable.

In the new Ayn Rand republic in which some folks would like the rest of us to live, people who are too sick to be offered insurance should be allowed to suffer, right? Gee, according to an “Oral History of Ayn Rand” by Scott McConnell, founder of the media department at the Ayn Rand Institute, even Rand didn’t believe in that in private as she accepted Medicare and Social Security when she was fighting lung cancer.

I also don’t understand how Republicans who supported Mitt Romney as president, the man who helped put the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) model here in Massachusetts in place, can now honestly say that this approach to health insurance is wrong. Does that make Romney less a Republican?

The ACA is bound to be a clunky beast before it catches its stride. It’s not perfect. But if you’re a person with a pre-existing condition who can’t afford health insurance it will be a Godsend. If you’re a kid out of college and worried about health insurance, now you know you can be covered under your parent’s policy for a few years.

However, the folks in Congress who don’t approve of the ACA are willing to take a chance their actions in shutting down the government are worth it. According to a CNN Money report, Brian Kessler, an economist with Moody’s Analytics, said a three- to four-week shutdown could cost the economy $55 billion.

He said, “If it’s a relatively short shutdown, it’s a minor headache. But if it lasts several weeks, the people affected start to act like they’re unemployed. They delay larger purchases. That’s why you start to see a significantly greater effect the longer it goes.”

Considering many parts of the country are still not out of the woods yet from the recession, I would think this game of craps is just too risky. Would dismantling the ACA somehow help the person who seeks retraining to be viable to the job market today? Will getting rid of the ACA bring overseas jobs back to this country? Will it make us more competitive in the global market? Will it fight climate change? Will it improve educational efforts to boost literacy? Will it assist in lowering crime rates? Will it make schools safer? Will it lower the risk of terrorist attacks?

With a Congress characterized by gridlock and by ideological fights that have helped freeze any real progress legislatively, what should we expect?

Of course, there is the chance that by the time you read this column, the issue might be resolved, sort of.

Now more than ever, the result of career politicians who are out of touch with the American people can be seen. Boy, do we need term limits. We need to decrease the power and influence of lobbyists.

Neither of those actions, though, will ever take place and the bickering and paralysis will continue.

Why I can’t own a gun

This weekend, neighbors of mine set up a karaoke outfit in their garage and starting singing at their top of the lungs. Clearly their speaker system was set at 11.

I called the police about 3 p.m. and was told someone would come by. At 10 p.m. I called again. I was given an apology and told someone would come.

By 11 p.m. the authorities have either visited the “X Factor” hopefuls or they were simply tired of wailing.

Yes, I know my discomfort was a minor issue when compared to more significant crimes. Yes, the fact their singing almost drowned out my television set after I closed all of the windows is not the same as a murder.

And yes, the reason I don’t own a gun is I realize I would have been tempted to blast their electronics. That might have caused a bigger issue.

It’s these things though that color the quality of life in Springfield. I love the town, but frequently I don’t love some of the people who live there.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.



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