This weekâ€™s â€œshutdownâ€ of government, for example, suffers (at least for those of us curious to see it reduced to Somali levels) from the awkward fact that the overwhelming majority of the government is not shut down at all. Indeed, much of it cannot be shut down. Which is the real problem facing America. â€œMandatory spendingâ€ (Social Security, Medicare, et al.) is authorized in perpetuity â€” or, at any rate, until total societal collapse. If you throw in the interest payments on the debt, that means two-thirds of the federal budget is beyond the control of Congressâ€™s so-called federal budget process. Thatâ€™s why youâ€™re reading government â€œshutdownâ€ stories about the PandaCam at the Washington Zoo and the First Ladyâ€™s ghost-Tweeters being furloughed.
Nevertheless, just because itâ€™s a phony crisis doesnâ€™t mean it canâ€™t be made even phonier. The perfect symbol of the shutdown-simulacrum so far has been the World War II Memorial. This is an open-air facility on the National Mall â€” thatâ€™s to say, an area of grass with a monument at the center. By comparison with, say, the IRS, the National Parks Service is not usually one of the more controversial government agencies. But, come â€œshutdown,â€ theyâ€™re reborn as the shock troops of the punitive bureaucracy. Thus, they decided to close down an unfenced open-air site â€” which oddly enough requires more personnel to shut than it would to keep it open.
So the Parks Service dispatched their own vast army to the World War II Memorial to ring it with barricades and yellow â€œPolice Line â€” Do Not Crossâ€ tape strung out like the worldâ€™s longest â€œWe Support Our Troopsâ€ ribbon. For good measure, they issued a warning that anybody crossing the yellow line would be liable to arrest â€” or presumably, in extreme circumstances, the same multi-bullet ventilation that that mentally ill woman from Connecticut wound up getting from the coppers. In a heartening sign that the American spirit is not entirely dead, at least among a small percentage of nonagenarians, a visiting party of veterans pushed through the barricades and went to honor their fallen comrades, mordantly noting for reporters that, after all, when theyâ€™d shown up on the beach at Normandy it too had not been officially open.
Steyn went on to observe: “One would not be altogether surprised to find the feds stringing yellow police tape along the Rio Grande, the 49th parallel, and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, if only to keep Americans in rather than anybody else out.”
And he was right, as Breitbart reports:
Just before the weekend, the National Park Service informed charter boat captains in Florida that the Florida Bay was “closed” due to the shutdown. Until government funding is restored, the fishing boats are prohibited from taking anglers into 1,100 square-miles of open ocean. Fishing is also prohibited at Biscayne National Park during the shutdown.
The Park Service will also have rangers on duty to police the ban… of access to an ocean. The government will probably use more personnel and spend more resources to attempt to close the ocean, than it would in its normal course of business.
This is governing by temper-tantrum. It is on par with the government’s ham-fisted attempts to close the DC WWII Memorial, an open-air public monument that is normally accessible 24 hours a day. By accessible I mean, you walk up to it. When you have finished reflecting, you then walk away from it.
At least that Memorial is an actual structure, with some kind of perimeter that can be fenced off. Florida Bay is the ocean. How, pray tell, do you “close” 1,100 square miles of ocean? Why would one even need to do so?
Apparently, according to an anonymous Park Service ranger, â€œWeâ€™ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. Itâ€™s disgusting.â€