Remember the kid who had the best sports equipment and if you wanted to play with him, you had to play by his rules or he took the equipment away?
Doesn’t that remind you of the recent closing of tours in the White House in Washington by President Barack Obama under the guise of sequestration?
Groups of schoolchildren and tourists have been denied access to the White House as a result of the never-ending war between the president and Congress over the nation’s finances. The White House claimed that the decision was made due to mandated staffing reductions under sequestration, saving the Secret Service about $74,000 a day.
Even with the financial shape the country’s in, does anyone truly believe there isn’t enough money to keep the White House open for tours for children, tourists and the general public?
The White House “is our house” and the president and his family live there because the people put them there. It’s not theirs to close.
Every time there is a cut back in funds, whether on a local, state or federal level, the cuts always seem to punish the people who deserve it the least. If they’re not cutting access to historical and cultural institutions, they’re taking aim at essential services like fire, police and sanitation.
In New York City, a new rite of spring when budget time comes is to threaten cuts to the Fire Department and the imminent closing of Engine or Ladder companies by the summer.
For the last four budget cycles, Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed the cuts, and the City Council fought back, and firefighters’ unions rallied with elected officials and neighborhood activitists outside firehouses where the endangered units are housed. The protesters charged that eliminating a single FDNY unit puts lives in danger.
At the last minute, money is found, all is saved and the public can sleep in their beds knowing that firefighters will be on call in case of fire.
But why must we as a city go through this nonsense every year? Is there anybody outside of City Hall who actually believes this city has one too many Fire Department units?
Too often these days, the things that matter most in government are treated like political footballs in a constant game of “us vs. them.” Which is the “us” and which is the “them” depends on what level of government the game is being played, but the outcome is the same. One side wins, the other side loses-and somehow, the people on the sidelines lose even more.
Because Democrats and Republicans can’t get along and compromise on a budget plan-or, seemingly, anything else- automatic budget cuts are kicking in that will reduce our military’s readiness and trim away at various federal agencies.
What emerges instead is the kind of pettiness shown in the closing of the White House to tourists-or a careless disregard for the public welfare, as demonstrated by the incessant pursuit of closing Fire Department units.
A question once asked of a most disgraceful figure in American history should be asked now of the leaders in our federal, state and local governments: “Have you no sense of decency, at long last?”