The Dollar

Farooque Chowdhury

Only days ago, the Ohio Clock, sitting near the US Senate Chamber since 1815, turned silent as the US government risked running out of money.

Now, the clock continues to tick, and the time continues to move, and new time travels in. But the times of yesterdays and of tomorrows are not the same.

The partial US government shut- down presents all these: the clock, the time, the elements, etc. It took its cost in home, the US, and alerted the world.

The just concluded Washington-dysfunction, a political function, was spectacular. It raised question: Is this the beginning of breaking down of the political system?

There is factional fight within the US political right-right camp. One faction—the Tea Party -imposes its will on its broader party. This means there are conditions conducive within the entire body that enables a faction to impose its tact—the government shutdown—on the whole. Their "maturity" inspires them to adopt a political tact that gives pains to the ordinary citizens and takes toll from the party. The party gains experience at a cost.

The world's biggest economy, belonging to the sole superpower, was pushed to the brink of disaster in mid-October. Having already forced a shutdown of the fed-eral government, Tea Party Republicans in Congress threatened to trigger a default on US debt through a refusal to raise the debt ceiling before October 17. That could have sent the world economy into an abyss deeper than the 2008 financial collapse. Only at the last minute on October 16 did House Speaker John Boehner allow a vote to open the government and raise the debt ceiling. Even then a majority of House Republicans voted for risking a global economic collapse.

The sheer nihilism of that Tea Party faction reflects the depravity of American racism, which, as Patrick Buchanan threatened, would not hesitate to "bring down like Samson", the world around it. That the diehard Republicans would allow them to risk so much reflects, their greater fear of revolt by the people as living conditions fail to rebound from the depths of the Great Recession.

The 16-day shutdown's impact went far beyond the much publicized closure of national parks and monuments. The lives of 800,000 furoughed "non-essential" government workers were turned upside down, as well as those relying on the many crucial functions they perform. There were delays in tracking down contaminated chicken that resulted in over 300 victims of sal-monella poisoning, and some public health workers had to return to work. Environmental protection and health research, including experimental and possibly lifesaving medical procedures, shut down. Some states discountinued food assistance under the federally funded WIC program, impacting over 50,000 women and children in North Carolina alone. Some Native Americans such as the Crow Tribe of Montana had to suspend health, nutrition and bus services. The same is true of many programs and shelters for victims of domestic violence and for welfare and pre-school programs.

During the shut down drama the US state appeared ungovernable although it was providing suggestions on governance to some other states.

Vol. 46, No. 21, Dec 1 - 7, 2013

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