My husband and I are no longer employed by the Federal Government. That hasn’t kept our household free of angst over the failure of Congress to pass a funding bill, however. My husband still resents the fact that we were essential personnel and were required to work with the threat of no pay over our heads. We were eventually compensated, but we couldn’t take advantage of the days off! I admit, after discussing this for the past week and many times this fall, my brain is running over, and I must organize my thoughts.

In Twin Falls, Family Health Services will have to cease operation if there is no appropriation for Community Health Centers. Generous annual federal grants provide the funding their revenue does not. It seems like everyone is agreeing to fund CHIP, but not voting on it. Money for special education and other education programs is in peril. Improvements to Eastland and Pole Line Road? Funded or not? We were supposed to have this stuff settled in September and be on our way to planning for fiscal year 2019.

I don’t know about you, but I am boiling mad. I am willing to vote for any federal candidate who says that passing appropriations in a timely manner is job one in congress and follows up with publicizing every action they are taking to make that so. Congress is taking advantage of deficit spending to neglect their foremost duty: pass legislation that allows the government to govern. Dictatorships are much more efficient at it, of course, but we all know how well they turn out.

There is legitimate outcry over how hard it is to get action from the bureaucrats. Waiting for a contract, a payment, an adjudication, information, a form, a chance to speak to a real person? If what you need has not yet been supported by funding, no civil servant, no matter how willing, can do anything about it. However, it seems to be permissible to blame those same people for government’s failures. Any private enterprise in America would flounder under the same circumstances. Employees and management would leave. Credit would be unavailable. But the truly entitled in Washington are safe in their positions until the next election.

The American public is being fed a diet of circuses. We have a serious investigation going on which can function behind the scenes, but the we get gossip and opinion about it 24-7 while the details of how much money is going to be spent are parceled out in obscurity. We are conflating imperative immigration legislation with fiscal policy in an effort to horse-trade for the votes necessary to pass either of them. It seems way more important to declare one party or another the winner or the obstructer than it is to pass the legislation. It reminds me of going to an old-time melodrama with bad acting. The audience is expected to throw rotten produce until the curtain goes down to applause for the hero.

It is clear to me that there are citizens who do not want our democracy to function; as well as others who just do not understand the basics of civics. Considering that civics was an elective when I was in high school that only we social science nerds were interested in, I can understand a lack of knowledge. What I find hard to justify is why anyone believes that government disruption is the way to go.

Notice that I did not say dissent. Accommodating dissent was a paramount reason for the design of our constitution. Disruption is the impulse to tear down. The result is anarchy. Tearing down is only positive when there is a blueprint of how to proceed in the future. There are those who want a new constitution. However, the details of life between British rule and the swearing in of a president and congress are not well known, but it was not a time of economic security or public satisfaction.

It is past time for the Federal Government to get its budget and appropriations in order. Lay down the knives and pick up the calculators and the pens. We are wasting money with congress’s inaction; even, as I believe, many citizens fail to make sense of the complications inherent in a failure of fiscal responsibility.

Linda Brugger retired from the Air Force and is a former chairwoman of the Twin Falls County Democrats.

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