Dysfunctional Government

There are quite a few places out there to get various considerations on the present crisis in the United States with regards the Debt ceiling and the Shutdown.  My own thoughts on the matter are that they are both manufactured crisis.  The Shutdown more-so in that it shows a shocking lack of functionality on the part of the US government for what is basically small-term political gains.  If the decision is made to gamble with the Debt ceiling, and I presume elements within the Republican party are willing to do so, than we simply do not know what will happen, since it’s never been done before.  But given the statements of various global and US financial institutions and individuals whose job it is to pay attention to such things, I would be worried at the least.

Regardless of what you think of the Affordable Care Act, the present US administration, or the particular tactics in employ, I think it would be undeniable at this point that the US government is dysfunctional.  In that it isn’t functioning.

Some basic functions of Government that everyone sort of agrees on include the ability to pass budgets, and enacts the measures within those budgets.  Even if you are an Anarcho-Liberal who thinks the government should only exist to guarantee contracts and provide for the common defence, you’d agree a basic function of the government would be to pass budgets to that effect and that continued failure to do so would be a sign, in fact a near definition, of dysfunction.

At this point the US government continually fails to pass budgets, ending up passing resolutions instead that just say “Well keep paying for what were already paying for” which is no way to run a government.  Congress seems incapable of passing legislation at all.  The joke being, that if Congress were on fire you couldn’t get Congress to agree to a resolution calling for Water to be poured on Congress.

The United States of America is hardly the first, nor is it likely to be the last government to end up is a dysfunctional way.  Governments, after-all, are human systems, usually established by a set group of people with interests to support those interests.  They change over time as the people change over time and even systems perceived to be archaic and long-lasting can have many shifts in them.  While superficially similar, the Bureaucratic Systems of the Ming Dynasty were very different from those of the Tang Dynasty, let alone of the earlier Han Dynasty within China.  Monarchical systems, despite their claim to continuousness are often founded on reformulation, usually after a series of Crisis.  In many instances the changing of Dynasties, the shifting of Monarchs or the alterations of systems were the products of crisis to the old system, and either those representing that system adapting to change, or being replaced with some other new group who could either modify or replace the previous system.  Dysfunction in a government is endemic of some sort of struggle that has upturned the previous understanding.

In the case of the US, I tend to think the present situation is one more representation of the multifaceted struggle between competing interests within the US political and social system.  The theoretical ‘demos’, or popular will, contrasting with the Political and Economic elites, whose usual coinciding interests have broken down, or rather agreement on how those interests are best served has.  So Major business interests begin to flip out when Republicans, whom they often support financially in elections, seem ready to engage in bizarre brinkmanship over a self-generated problem, yet one that could jeopardize the US economy by making it appear ‘unsure’.  While many people might see them as disconnected, I think the emergence of the Initial Tea Party, the following Koch Brothers sponsored organizations, and the shifts within the Republican party this caused, as well as the Occupy movement, are all strands of fractures within the system.  It seems obvious now, and perhaps I’ll be proven wrong, but the previous US system, as understood in the post-Cold War world, is gone, and it’s replacement is still very much in flux.


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