U.S. taxpayers deserve better
Published: Thursday, October 10th, 2013
The partial, selective shutdown of the U.S. government last week probably didn’t affect a whole lot of people, but the people it did affect were quite put out by all of it. This included federal employees in and around Custer who work for the National Park Service or the U.S. Forest Service.
These employees received temporary furloughs and will probably receive back pay once the government gets up and running again. The people who have all the right to be frustrated and deeply disappointed were those visitors who traveled hundreds and thousands of miles to see our area national treasures and found them to be inaccessible.
This happened all over the nation last week as the 401 sites operated by the National Park Service were closed to the public. The Park Service, which is about 5 percent of the federal budget, had no choice but to lay off its employees and close their museums, monuments, memorials and parks all across the nation. This action was carried out to the point of lunacy when visiting World War II veterans were denied access to their memorial in Washington, D.C.
The normally open-air World War II Memorial had barriers placed around it by National Park Service employees. There was no need to do this because it doesn’t cost a dime for people to walk to the memorial, observe it and photograph it. The same can be said for all the other outdoor memorials and monuments in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. When a group of Congress members heard about this, they went down and removed the barriers to allow veterans access to the memorial. Good for them!
Rep. Steven Palazzo, (R-Mississippi), helped the Honor Flight veterans commit an act of civil disobedience against the Park Service last Tuesday when he assisted the veterans in setting aside the temporary barriers to their memorial. Palazzo said it was the White House that gave the order to the NPS. That figures. It’s all political.
Honor Flight is a non-profit organization that offers free air and ground transportation to the nation’s capital so aging veterans can visit the memorials to the wars they fought in. Good for Palazzo and all those who helped lead the charge past NPS police who were protecting the monuments from what? If they were on duty they could just as well have stepped aside and kept an eye on things from a distance. The White House vs. veterans. What a disgrace!
No doubt there were some people who changed their travel plans when they found out Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument were closed last Tuesday because of the partial government shutdown. The inability of this Congress and this president to compromise and keep the federal government functioning is a national and international embarrassment. It ultimately hurts all of us.
The sad truth is this president doesn’t know how to lead because he has never done it before. He doesn’t know how to compromise and get people to work together because he has never done it before. He doesn’t know how to stop campaigning and govern the country because he has never done it before. He continues to pit Democrats and Republicans against one another and blames Congress for its gridlock and everything else when he is the one who forments and instigates it all.
Presidents before Obama have been leaders. Granted, some of them have not been very good leaders, but they recognized that their role on the national stage was to lead the country, not just one political party. In this sense, Obama has failed miserably. He continues to pit one economic class against another and one race or ethnic group against another. He is the biggest impediment to national pride and unity we have ever had.
What a mess we are in.
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