Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shut down the government or shut down the country?

I have been enjoying Peter Schiff's new radio show, mostly on my iPhone at the gym. Somehow or another though I configured the iPod feature to play at two times normal speed, which is not actually a bad thing. For one, Schiff is always very animated, but getting his insights in an even more rapid fire fashion is amusing (at double speed he sounds a bit like Charlie Sheen, only Charlie Sheen has never given me sound advice on agricultural futures). Secondly, I get twice as much Schiff in half the time. I might try setting iTunes to play double speed as well. Lord knows it would have made The A-Team more palatable. But the most important observation I have from listening to Peter Schiff at increased speed is something he dropped today, midway through a fairly intense core workout (yeah, I worked the abs a bit, did some lower back, hit the middle pecs- you know....)

Schiff gave us this gem, about ten minutes into today's podcast, while speaking to Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert: "....the Democrats want to accuse you of shutting down them the government; accuse them of shutting down the country, because that's what's going to happen if we don't reign this in.... we're going to have an economic disaster that'll make 2008 look like a Sunday school picnic."

It is a very sensible point which the GOP is obviously failing to grasp. Shutting down the government is not the same as shutting down the country. Turn off the silly, unconstitutional programs, stop spitting out checks to unnecessary bureaucrats, discontinue the borrowing and the printing and the spending, and the nation will still exist.

The government is not America.

In Pyongyang, the government is everything. In Havana, the government is everything. In Washington, the government is something, but it is not everything. And it sure as heck isn't everything in Elko or Vicksburg or Providence or San Diego or any other city outside of the Beltway.

If the federal government shuts down there will be discomfort for many people. This is correct because the government is so large and so expansive that it touches nearly aspect of American life. But fortunately-- for the moment-- it does not dominate all aspects of our lives.

But if we continue down this maddening track of unchecked fiscal excessiveness the end result will be the government will affect every aspect of the nation.

So thanks again Schiff, for an excellent point. The debate over a Continuing Resolution should not be moved by the contention that continued spending is necessary to prevent "shutting down the government." Government is not that important. What is important is the country, and continued reckless spending puts the whole place at risk.

Hopefully before CR 2.0 in two weeks, the GOP will figure this out.

(Representative Gohmert came off as quite sharp in this discussion, by the way. He seems to have a real sense of the seriousness of the national debt, but at the same time understands the necessity of working from within Congress, particularly with the GOP leadership, to create sensible progress on the issue.)