US government shutdown

Published: October 1, 2013

US President Barrack Obama. PHOTO: REUTERS

Were the same yardstick to be applied to America that is so often applies elsewhere, it might be possible to say that it is displaying one of the symptoms of failed statehood — namely a breakdown of governance to the detriment of the populace as a whole. The American government, in large part, shut down on October 1 — and all because of the Democratic government of President Barack Obama trying to raise the standards of health care nationally up from the baseline of either zero or Third World status where it currently sits. All non-essential services are to close and those in essential jobs will be expected to go to work — but not be paid.

The last time the American government shut down was 17 years ago and the closure lasted a month. This latest closure could last just as long given the ossified polarity of American politics and the vengeful hatred of the Obama Administration by Republicans still bitter from their defeat in the last election. The so-called ‘Tea Party’ faction of the Republican Party has stonewalled the passing of the national budget that includes funding for health reforms dubbed ‘Obamacare’. To the mystification of many, both inside and outside America, this looks like the infliction of a wound the nation — already chronically obese and with healthcare geared to a ruinously expensive, if you are poor, insurance system — does not need. At the heart of the crisis lies the ambivalence towards government — any government, for some — and its place in American lives. The irrationality of the shutdown and the potential damage it will cause matters not a jot to the Tea Partiers, much as the irrationality of the chief minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkwa matters not a jot when he blames the media for recent bomb attacks in the province. Signs of state failure can come in many forms, and those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Or drones.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2013.

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