Many people are cynical about government, with good reason. They see leaders who don’t care about getting a job done, who just maneuver and finger-point and yell to puff themselves up and put someone else down. They read about tunnels and transportation terminals that cost three times what they were supposed to, are opened for business years behind schedule, and need endless fixes.
These realities are not enough for the rich and the reactionaries. They drown us in propaganda attacks on government and demands to get it off our back (actually, their back). Of course, the huge corporations they own keep the lid on the destructive politics in their executive suites, about investments that turn out to be waste, about their screw-ups.
Sometimes, though, the rot in corporations cannot be covered over, like when Pacific Gas and Electric in northern California let gas pipelines decay, did not inspect them per federal law, and actually phonied up safety checks – until the explosion of a 30-inch gas pipeline under residential San Bruno tossed homes into the air, injured dozens of people, and killed eight. That’s what happens when a complicated gas network is run for the benefit of stockholders.
The shutdown of the federal government has done at least one good thing. It showed us that 800,000 rank-and-file workers who make the federal government go every day do a vital job. They do it so well that we forget their service – until half these people are locked out and…