Saturday, January 12, 2019

About the Shutdown

If I understand it correctly, right now, the government is in some kind of shutdown because Schumer and Pelosi refuse to pass a budget that includes a border wall and Trump refuses to propose a budge that doesn't. I'm of two minds about basically every part of this issue. Let me break it down point by point.

First, I'm not sure how I feel about the wall. It seems cold-hearted to deny people entry into the United States, especially since many of the people coming in are trying to escape violence, crime, and poverty. Under those circumstances, the fact that they're coming in illegally can almost be overlooked. But they're not the only ones who are and will be affected by their immigration. An influx of workers, especially undocumented, unskilled workers, can have a huge impact on the nation, both politically and economically. Sure, letting them stay in the country is what's best for them, and we certainly have to consider how our final decision will affect them, but we have to do what's best for everyone, and I'm not sure what that is. On this topic, my stance is generally to make legal immigration easier and illegal immigration harder. A border wall may help with that, as would countless other immigration reforms. We all know that the system is broken, but it's hard to know how to fix it.

Second, I'm not sure how I feel about the shutdown. I'm not a huge fan of the federal government. Personally, I think that state and local governments should be stronger and the federal government should be weaker. Better yet, I think people should be allowed to govern themselves. On one hand, the idea of the federal government shutting down and leaving everything to the state, local, and personal levels sounds pretty good to me. On the other hand, I'm sure that the federal government is essential for many things, especially since so many people have come to depend on it. Some amount of government is essential, so we need it to function, even if it would be better if it wasn't so essential and didn't exist.

Third, I'm not sure how to assign the blame. Having established that the shutdown is, at least to some people, a bad thing, it's hard to say who's at fault for the shutdown. As far as I know, either side could end the shutdown by giving into the demands of the other side, but neither side is willing to back down. I could blame the individuals for that, but more than that, I blame the two-party system and the gerrymandering that led to this extreme divisiveness that turns bi-partisan compromise into political suicide. Political activists are so polarized that any kind of cooperation is seen as a form of betrayal. The government can't function because vocal citizens forbid their representatives from working together or compromising.

So, this whole situation is a mess. Immigration is a sticky issue, there are no clear solutions, and even if there was a solution, we'd have a hard time getting enough government officials to agree on it. This shutdown is an example of multiple problems layered on top of each other, and I'm not entirely certain how I feel about any of them.

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