Local Commentary

Editorial: Shutting Down The Planet?

The thorniest question to be asking now in the midst of the longest federal government shutdown in the history of the U.S. is how this is going to end. When Trump says he’s willing to hold out for months, even years, to get his way, we believe him. What does he care? It’s the perfect way to use his office to serve the interests of a hostile foreign power, which he evidently represents. The only other thing he needs to do is pull the U.S. out of NATO.

It’s the only question tougher than the one which asks how we got into this fix in the first place. How complacent, how asleep at the wheel were our responsible leaders to let this coup occur before our noses? Has anybody written a book on how to undo a coup? If you think we speak in excess by using this kind of language, take another look at what’s happening around you. The government has been paralyzed.

Eyewitnesses tell the News-Press that they’re wandering around Capitol Hill with no one to run the most rudimentary security checks. This is descending into a chaotic nightmare, and, by the way, those who will pay the dearest price are those who need the government the most, the disadvantaged and poor.

The denial of public health measures is one of the surest guarantors that all of this could get out of hand very fast. The influenza pandemic that killed more people than died in combat in World War I, as if that’s conceivable, exploded out of the trenches and the miserably compromised conditions of the Great War as if only to prove a point. All the civilians who eluded the carnage of that war, though possibly played a role in its perpetuation, were suddenly and swiftly its victims in horrible deaths of their favorite children and grandmothers and selves.

It is a sad but overlooked fact that half of Americans cannot absorb an unexpected expense of even $500, living that closely from paycheck to paycheck, one paycheck from the street.

As the current shutdown causes malnutrition, overcrowding and sanitation lapses, the result will surely be a snowballing impact allowing for the spread of diseases. The mighty United States of America will begin to lose civilization’s war against pestilence. The “superbug” that scientists dread will almost certainly arise through the mutation of strands against today’s most powerful antibiotics will threaten to bring a painful and ugly judgment down on us all, and we will be ill prepared to challenge it.

Long before global warming does us all in, it is pestilence that may torment our species, and ruin efforts of our colleagues 1.6 billion light years away who’ve tried hard to make an unmistakable contact with living intelligence on this or any other habitable planet. Sadly, no one may be here to “reply all.”