Friday, April 8, 2011

What Ghostbusters Teaches us about the Government Shutdown

UPDATE: It's being reported that the budget impasse has been fixed. It seems the ConEd guy and the cop did the right thing. This post has been updated to reflect recent developments.

As I sit here waiting for the impending government shutdown, what keeps running through my mind is this scene from Ghostbusters, a movie that I'm always amazed at how many levels it works on.

Mainstream Dems and progressives are Egon, warning of the calamity. "Boom," he mouths as he walks away, knowing just how bad this is going to be. Much in the same way Egon-esque economist Paul Krugman warned how a government shutdown would strangle the nascent economic recovery in the cradle.

The GOP "Regressives" are Walter Peck.Intense, Arrogant, Completely Certain that they have the authority and the moral right to "Shut this off. Shut this all off!" He not only doesn't know what he's doing or what the effects will be, he doesn't care.

Obama is Venkman, the affable huckster coming in to try haplessly to negotiate out of this problem he partially created. Yes, Obama lovers. This is partially his fault. The same way when Peck first came to Venkman and he blew him off. Instead of taking the bully's threats seriously and doing something to pre-empt Peck's ego and bullying, he went about Venkman's business as usual. But like Venkman, we can't help but root for him.

The cop and the ConEd guys are the mainstream Republicans-- along for the ride but no idea what they're doing. The ConEd worker, indicative of conservative technocrats, knows he's in over his head and isn't sure a shutdown is actually going to help. The cop, like law and order conservatives, are almost as mad at Peck and his crusade as they are at Obama/Venkman.

The Tea Party is Lewis Tully, foolishly aping the actions of Peck- just normal people but possessed by the spirit of Vince Clortho- the Kochs, Grover Norquists, and Glenn Becks of the world-- ideologues who see the shutdown as a "sign".

And finally, Janine is middle America. She knows the sign is "we're going out of business."

I'm with Janine. How did things ever get so bad? And why was this so important? This new, draconian budget still leaves us with the second largest budget deficit in history. This just goes to show, for all the cuts in spending the GOP is trying to employ, it isn't that America has a "Spending" problem- we have an income problem. Full employment and getting back to economic growth is key. Ending wars and cutting defense spending that is larger than at the height of the Cold War will stop the real spending addiction we have.  Tantrums and ridiculous social policy riders and shutdowns that would keep paychecks from going to our soldiers and their families is unconscionable.

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