Lessons from the Government Shutdown

As I often say, this isn’t a political blog. If you want to see my opinions in that arena you can visit my personal Facebook page or read articles I’ve written myself over at one of my other websites, Intentional Conservative. I’m not concerned within the context of this article with the winners and losers in this rather farcical non-event endlessly trumpeted about from the Right and the Left. Instead, I’m sort of tickled at the way the RFNE illuminates human nature.

Bottom line? We’ll do anything to postpone a deadline, even when said postponement is only delaying the inevitable, whatever that may be. (I don’t presume to know what’s finally going to happen in this particular instance.) The moment the pressure is off, we heave a sigh of relief. We’ve escaped! We got the one-week extension for the term paper! We got an extension for filing our taxes! We made an excuse and put off the importunate guy when he asked for a date! Whew! And we forget, in the rush of euphoria, one simple truth:

Time marches on.

So I guess we can’t be too hard on Congress. They’ve put themselves, and the nation (or that part of the nation that’s paying any attention) through the wringer, and for what? Basically, a three-week extension. Are things going to be any different, any better, by then? Let me put on my prognosticator’s hat. Hmmm. The answer is . . . no. They’ll have to go through the same pressure cooker all over again. How many continuing resolutions, those temporary fixes to keep funding the government, are we going to have this year? Will we keep lurching from one crisis to another? Here’s a hint:

Time marches on.

I write in my book about an experience I had the summer before my eighth- or ninth-grade year of going shopping with my mom for fabric to make some new clothes. She had a limited amount of money in her purse: $30, as I recall. We plunged into the aisles at Joslin’s, a department store that no longer exists. I remember one item very vividly, a print with large blue medallions or paisley swirls, something that didn’t suit me at all but which I liked. We got that cut. There were some other items too, probably a pattern, a zipper, and some thread, and there may have been at least one other piece of fabric. All this time I was rather tensely adding the amounts up in my head, afraid that we were going to run out of money. At about the point where I was sure we had indeed overspent, my mom said, “We can just charge it.” Oh the relief! We could just charge it. But she had forgotten one thing:

Time marches on.

I didn’t have to worry about that charge-card bill, but she and my dad did. We were always running a balance and paying just the minimum, a sure road to staying in debt. Unfortunately, along with the many good things I learned from my parents, I also learned that you could always use a charge card (as we called it then) to get what you wanted. It look me a long, long time to unlearn that lesson. Indeed, it really wasn’t until I married my frugal husband that I got off the credit card bandwagon.

So as of today Congress has about 2 ½ weeks to pull its socks up. I’m sure that amount of time seems endless right now. But you know what?

Time marches on.

(Okay, I’ll stop.)

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