Wednesday, 6 April 2011

At What Point?

This past couple of months have been rather interesting with the US federal budget and its continuing resolution episode.  This week, we actually appear now headed toward shutting down the government.  Naturally, this has both Republicans and Democrats all upset.  Both are ensuring that you get the opinion that it's the other causing this, and that terrible things might happen unless you either cut the budget to accept things or just shut down the government.

I sat and pondered over this odd point in American history...shutting down the government.  If you had come up in 1790 and suggested that the US government might shut down....no one would have cared and it might have earned three paragraphs on the front page of the Charleston local newspaper.

In fact, for the next one hundred years....the effect of the US government and its operations to run your life really don't matter.  Other than the printing of money.....no one would have cared.

At some point in the 1920s, with taxation now underway....there would have finally have been this key part of the US government that might have had a slight link to us.

In the 1930s....the "new deal" came along and several government service organizations popped up.  Social Security arrived.  The National Park Service became this big reality.  Soil conservation efforts by the government were going on all over the US.  A shutdown might have earned a eight paragraph effort on the front page by this point.

As we trudged off into the 1950s....the government continued to build on services within the medical profession, aircraft inspections via FAA, air traffic control, and drug research to ensure only the right drugs were put on the market.

Today, you can toss on the TSA folks and government legal folks helping to push the NFL strike to a quick conclusion.

I suspect up until the early 1970s.....the vast majority of us would have cared little for the shutdown and just skipped any news of this for the sports section.  The truth be known....almost fifty percent of us care about this today.  If we were to be traveling next week....the TSA part to this puzzle, along with the air traffic controllers....might matter.  After that, it might only be a small matter for another twenty-five percent of us.

Who cares the most?  The actual folks who work for the government, and the media who uses this to attract more viewers to the network, blog site, or newspaper.  That's the sad woeful truth about this matter.  The vast number of folks just don't care.

So as someone stands around the water cooler today and wants to hype this up as a topic....stop them in their tracks and ask when it really mattered.  Make them pause and think about this.  When your cousin comes over to share a beer in the garage while you are changing your winter tires over to summer tires, and he drags up the government shutdown....ask when it really started to matter.

The more you think about this....the more I suspect that you will agree that life without government operations for a week or two....probably doesn't matter much.  If we were lucky and cut the heat and electricity off during that period, we might actually save some money while this was underway.

Oh, and if you were wondering when our interest in government shutdown really started to pick up?  Well...it's strangely enough when cable TV news and CSP*N came along.  Think about that.

The Problem with Jim

There is a group home in Brainerd, Minn.  The function of the home....take adults who have severe mental abilities and take care of them.  Amongst them....is this guy named Jim Stene.  Jim is there because he jumped into a stream to save his sister.  He was twelve.  He suffered severe brain damage from the episode and mostly is living his life as a twelve-year old kid today....even though he's thirty-five years old.

It's a curious thing.  Someone from the group home got everybody all fixed up and registered to vote.  Most all of the folks in this group home....have a serious mental disability and probably wouldn't know or grasp anything about voting.

This topic came up one day with Jim and his relatives.  Jim had been told the primary candidate running....in the 2008 election....was President Gerald Ford.  Naturally, he was pro-Ford.  The guys from the home running this episode....didn't tell Jim that Ford had been gone for over twenty-five years.

Jim's family is fairly upset about this.  They think it's awful dishonest to misuse Jim's right, and that this entire act ought to be punished.  As for who Jim voted for?  We honestly don't know.

There are several questions here.  First, can you really deny anybody....even mentally disabled folks....the right to vote?  The answer....no.  You can be criminally insane with the mental ability of a seven-year old kid....and the government has no ability to deny you a chance to register and vote.

Ethically, can someone manipulate such a person and get them to cast such a vote illegally?  The answer is that most states have no law to forbid a hospital or medical staff from manipulating a person in such a position.

Then we come to the weird idea that eighty thousand mentally disabled folks just might be registered to vote in America, and being helped by nurses, relatives, or a neighbor to vote.  It's a thought that might scare some folks.  The blunt truth is that we are proud folks and we aren't about to deny crazy folks their right to vote.

Oh, and if you were interested in knowing this....we also will not deny any of these mentality disabled folks the right to own a weapon either.