That’s the big deal in the news right now. In America, arguably. The government shutdown due to the fiscal year ending today, September 30th, and the house and senate not agreeing on a budget.
I admit, I haven’t followed the news much until I decided to look into it today. Why wait? Simple – I’m a writer plagued with an overactive imagination. I have so many ideas for books I get frightened whenever I check out CNN or a reputable (read: non-Fox) news site. The raw material for so many stories is just sitting there like an untended gold mine.
But today I broke that habit and dug into figuring out what’s going on. It’s pretty stupid, if you ask me (and probably most of America). It all hinges around Obamacare, the infamous health plan everyone is afraid of. The House of Representatives is run by republicans and they don’t like it, so they’re trying to downplay it considerably. The Senate is run by democrats and they are poo-pooing anything that the House tries to slip through. Both have to agree to pass the bill and both have vowed to spill blood before agreeing on this issue.
Why the angst? I wish I knew. Oh sure, I read the bits about how the fear is the government is overstepping their bounds in requiring healthcare for everyone. I don’t disagree with that, but there’s a flip side to the coin that keeps me from tossing my hat into either ring. Obamacare would prevent denial of healthcare to people with pre-existing conditions. For many the elimination of that is a scary thing. For people I know, two personally, that is a very good thing.
Is Obamacare the best way to go about it? I doubt it. Do I have a better solution? Nope. What this has done is prompted several what-if scenarios in my head. And, as I predicted, those have themselves fleshing out into a story idea. It’s not about healthcare though, it’s about a future version of the United States of America that may or may not be an improved version.
I’m still working through the specifics, but it involves welfare / unemployment assistance that makes sense (meaning no alcohol, cigarettes, or luxury items with the government provided funding, as well as mandatory drug testing). That’s pretty minor though. The big changes involve no more federal income tax. Instead local (state) governments gain more autonomy and are required to pay taxes to the federal government. Obviously states need to come up with a way to boost their funding to support all the added expenses they’ll have.
What about the US military? Well, that’s complicated. Various agencies would still need to exist, obviously. The FBI, CIA, NSA, a vastly redesigned IRS, Sector 7, and SHIELD, for example. Okay, maybe not so much on the last two, but it would be kind of cool if they were needed. States would have to maintain their own militias and I’m thinking that a percentage of each is rotated through national bases to train or deploy as needed every so often. I certainly have no interest in weakening America’s military strength, but I would also like to lessen our role as the perceived global peacekeeper (aka bully).
In short, this setting will have a smaller government and less impact on day to day lives. Stupid things like the looming government shutdown would have a far less likely chance to proceed. People would have power and make decisions again, versus a handful of elected officials that may or may not be paying any attention to their constituents. We have the technology for that, let’s stop pretending we live in the 1800s and need other people to make decisions for us.
As for the reality of what’s happening right now, I hope it doesn’t come to pass. Too many people will go without a paycheck, and too many others will go without the funding or permits they need to live their lives. That, in turn, will have a trickle-down effect and the end result will be another recession just when things started to be slowly gaining. For being a nation filled with educated and intelligent people we certainly allow a lot of really stupid things to happen.
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