Yesterday afternoon, after getting some projects out the door for the National Grange State Master’s Meeting, I decided that I had let my snail-mail cubby in our supply room fill up to an embarrassing level and it was time to get the letter opener out. In the collection of invoices and political newsletters was a lovely hand-addressed #10 envelope from a Wib Justi, from the National Junior Horticultural Association in Ohio.
The envelop contained an article from the February 2011 Issue of Country Living which detailed a certain M.A. Fox’s search for the perfect pie and how pie had become this individual’s medium for connecting with the past, and all other things inherited. The talented author of the piece points out how very difficult it is to make a perfect pie. How the components must be in perfect measure, with precise process and collaboration.
Unfortunately, in my warped, politically-charged brain, it made me think of this little situation we have inherited in Washington right now as we sit on the eve of a possible government shut-down. Now, in some cases, nostalgia can be just as detrimental to one’s soul as it can be restorative. However, sometimes taking a walk down memory lane is just what is needed to avoid making political mistakes of the past.
The federal government has shut-down 15 times since 1977, but the government shut-down that is the freshest in most folk’s memories is the one that resulted from the stand-off between President Bill Clinton and then House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The shut-down, which was the longest in history, lasted 21 days and occurred over the Christmas holidays. The two Clinton-era government shut-downs resulted in a gross furlough of over 1 million federal employees and countless contractors.
During the 1995-96 shutdowns, the unemployment rate was about 5.5% and today it currently hovers just under 10%. I don’t think this is the fat that we need to be trimming. Is sending a bunch of people home from work really the message we want to send to our unemployed? When the U.S. government tells small businesses to reinvest in their companies and hire more staff to energize the economy, yet can’t play well enough with others to do so itself, it speaks with a forked tongue.
I am the first to jump on the bandwagon of tightening our fiscal belt but I am not sure that shutting down the federal government leads by example or achieves the financial relief that so many are lead to believe. I don’t believe that the following is the recipe for a balanced budget:
2 Chambers diametrically oppose
1 White House that doesn’t even want to address the current FY2011 budget
1 The largest employer in the United States shutting down
1 The highest sustained unemployment rate since the Great Depression
PS: In the article from Country Living cited earlier in this blog, the Grange is noted for having the best of all country auction food stands (and pies). Maybe Grangers hold the best of all recipes.
- Nicole Palya Wood
National Grange Legislative Director