Sequestration 2013: It's No Big Deal, Really


Later in the week a no good, very bad thing called the "sequester" is supposed to happen because 535 senators and representatives, one president, and legions of earnest staff people can not decide how to make this country live within its means while, at the same time, assuring their own re-election.

For those who prefer to minimize their focus on the nation’s capital, re-election is the important part. With something as vital as the career of Congressman Flapdoodle at stake, legions of spinners and talking point writers must be unleashed on an unsuspecting public.

The terms of the sequester were designed to be so odious to both Democrats and Republicans that they would surely agree to something less dire. Bear in mind that the sequester was designed by the very same people who are now telling you "life as you know it will come to an end if it happens."

For the rest of the week, expect to be bombarded with apocalyptic claims of what will happen if a tiny fraction of what our government spends goes unspent.

The Vatican Swiss Guards will overwhelm the US Marines in a heretofore-unknown battle.

All of the elderly will immediately die.

All children will go untaught.

Security lines at airports will be so long that passengers will be better served to walk from New York to Los Angeles.

Terrorists will cross our borders in larger and faster numbers than the nastiest drug-dealing illegal immigrants.

The nastiest drug-dealing illegal immigrants will cross our borders in larger and faster numbers than terrorists.

Consistency is not very important to spinners or talking point writers.

All of these are examples of what is known inside the Beltway as the "Washington Monument Syndrome." Forgive me for explaining this, but I tried it on a politically savvy friend of long duration, and she wondered if it meant "giant prick." While it does, in fact, bear such a resemblance, that is not the meaning in this context.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, when bureaucracies learned from Darwin that they too needed to fight for survival, some lowly staffer in the Department of the Interior came up with the idea of threatening to close the Washington Monument if even a penny was cut from its budget.

Since the Washington Monument is known to be popular with the public, threatening to close it was designed simply to protect all of the other lard in the budget from scrutiny.

The tactic was so stupid that it achieved the iconic status of a "syndrome."

As a public service, here are 10 questions you can ask to anyone who suggests plagues of locusts or frogs because of the sequester.

1. How many White House staff personnel will be furloughed?

2. How many congressional staff personnel will be furloughed?

3. If a departmental budget reverts to the level of 2007 or 2008 (when that level of spending was presumably satisfactory), is that a problem?

4. Is anything useful found in any part of a budget other than the top line?

5. Has any elected official given up even one of his earmarks?

6. If you had to bet your own personal funds on the threatened outcome actually happening, would you do so?

7. Are you telling the truth, or is it time to bring back Congressman Joe "you lie" Wilson of South Carolina?

8. Would you be willing to tender your resignation if your statements about the effects of sequestration proved to be hyped, or indeed, false?

9. If this tiny percentage is so important, why don’t we spend that and cut all the rest?

10. How stupid do you think we are?

Whatever the actual impact of this political silliness, be assured those whose job it was to avoid it will feel it least.

The post originally appeared on libertyPell.