By Greg Morin
“We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can” said a National Park Service Ranger in Washington, DC recently. The revelation of this directive has only served to add more color to the canvas of a feckless presidency. What sort of leader seeks to augment, rather than minimize, the impact of a deleterious event upon those he putatively serves?
The behavior of the Obama administration during this current government “shutdown” is reprehensible and petty. The deliberate closures of a number of “public” parks – un-manned, un-ticketed, open air parks mind you – says more about Obama than any of his self-serving oratory. These are the actions of a petulant, spoiled child. He’s not getting what he wants (unconstrained limitless federal spending) so rather than leading (engaging in and brokering a meaningful dialog between both sides) he’s lashing out at the very citizenry he is supposedly serving by using them as pawns in a game of Congressional chess. Obama and his minions are well aware that most of what the federal government does on a daily basis does not impact the public in any obvious manner. The longer the shutdown continues unnoticed by John Q. Public, the weaker his position becomes. Therefore, to strengthen his hand he must make the public squirm as much as possible, even if that means spending additional funds to pay people to barricade open-air facilities that cost nothing to keep open (bike lanes, children’s playgrounds, unmanned parking lots, etc). Even virtual resources such as websites and Twitter accounts have gone dark despite the fact that they are either free or already paid for. But the “shutdown” of public resources was not sufficient. They are now deliberately blocking access to private businesses as well because they happen to be leasing government owned buildings. These businesses make the government money (leases). They do not cost them money (Pigash Inn in North Carolina is just one example http://goo.gl/PdMxU7 ). That’s like quitting your job because you ran out of money – it simply defies all rationality! And then there is poor George Washington; he must surely be spinning in his grave because even his house (Mt. Vernon Museum) was shut down by Mr. Obama! (http://goo.gl/CbBb4U). Why? The parking lot for the facility is jointly owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association (the private owners of the Mt. Vernon facility) and the National Parker Service (NPS), so apparently the NPS felt it necessary to barricade an un-ticketed and un-manned parking lot that the NPS bears no daily cost to operate. How long will it be until Obama orders all U.S. interstate highways shutdown as well?
These actions have revealed an essential truth of a state run society: there is no “public” property. There is only the property of the Royal Court – the federal government that is – and the king (Obama) may do whatsoever he pleases with his property. If he doesn’t get what he wants, then just as a petulant child would, he will pick up his ball and go home. Or rather, he’s going to barricade off the playground so no one else can play either.
The strategy here is of course plain to see. If he can’t pressure Congress, then he can pressure the public by taking away those things the federal government has so graciously bequeathed to the “people.” If the people value them, then they should rightly be mad at Congress for forcing their poor king to take away their goodies. Fortunately most people are not this blind to his manipulative strategy. In perhaps the best publicized exampled, the day the shutdown began the NPS barricaded the WWII memorial in Washington D.C., preventing numerous veterans from visiting the site. However, the veterans were not so easily intimidated. These dauntless men pushed the barriers aside and again demonstrated their strength of character. Character that, ironically, is honored by the very memorial this President strove to separate them from. By fighting the will of past and present tyrants they have set an example for us all. If we value our liberty, then we have a duty to overturn both the barricades to liberty and those that would erect them.
Greg Morin is a member of the Libertarian party and CEO of Seachem Laboratories located in Madison. Constructive comments are welcomed to this paper or at gregmorin.com