We are now in a record government shutdown, and it looks like it will continue for a while. The reason? A “wall” which objectively is unnecessary, a President who boxed himself in, and a Senate Majority Leader too spineless to put budget bills to a vote, because he doesn’t want to override a veto. The news is full of the problems federal workers face either being out of work with no pay, or worse, having to work without pay. The national media focuses on the easily available stories in Washington and other large cities, but it’s national in scope. But that’s not the only bad news.
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One of the things about growing up in upstate New York is that you get to know a lot of Revolutionary War history, in particular the earliest battles of the war. New York’s nickname, “the Empire State” is because at that time, it held “the keys to the empire.” This makes sense if you realize that in the 18’th century, moving troops and supplies was a laborious task. Roads were poor or non-existent, so progress overland was time-consuming and difficult. To move heavy materials, troops, and other supplies quickly? The quickest way was by water. Look at a map of New York, and you have Lake Champlain and the Hudson River running North-South. From Albany, you have the Mohawk River running East-West. On the northern end of the state, you have the Saint Lawrence river, leading into Lake Ontario. If you were the British, and wanted to split the colonies, those routes were the key to splitting and breaking the Revolution.
In a recent post, I was asked ” 63 million is a significant number of people. Do their needs and wants no longer matter?” and why I seem to lack sympathy for their predicaments. We’re in yet another government shutdown, and the news is full of stories about the impacts. Large number of government employees are either furloughed or working without pay. Trash buildup in national parks, fishing fleets waiting to put to sea, infrastructure improvements held up, and the list goes on and on. Add in the impacts of the trade war on farmers and technology, and it’s bad, alright. So why do I often seem lacking in sympathy?
In a comment in a previous post, I talked about “misperception of risk.” This is a well-known phenomenon, where the perceived risk is either greater or lesser than the actual risk. One of the best examples is the “anti-vaxxer” movement, where people refuse vaccines because they fear various side effects. That the problems they fear are either non-existent (autism), or that the side effects of vaccines are minor and rare compared to having the actual diseases does not matter to them. In looking back over my blog posts over the years relating to Republican voters, there’s a constant theme: Fear. They’re afraid. They’ve been told for years that they need to be afraid, and that in order to protect themselves, they need to vote for Republicans to keep them safe. It’s covered up with various buzzwords and dog whistles, but boiled down to its essence, it’s “you should be afraid of this.” It may be fear of “different,” it might be fear of a loss of status, privileges, or some other fear, but there’s always a fear. But their fear doesn’t match the reality.
This year was, as I said in an earlier post, one of the least productive for me as a blogger. It’s not that I didn’t have opinions, it was a combination of two things. First and foremost were the changes in my professional life. After working in one position for the last six years, I got a promotion and transfer. To say it was unexpected is an understatement. The person who had that position resigned unexpectedly, and caused my headquarters to scramble to get it filled. Getting to know everything there, and working with a new staff would have been stressful enough, in addition, this year was a big turnover year which meant new headquarters people, and there was a shortage of staff. The result was far and away more time being spent on work issues, and far less for blogging.