I have been avoiding the news lately. My own life has enough pain and suffering in it that I am afraid coming across any additional madness will shock me into a vegetative state and I will spend my life in a mental ward. (Sometimes this concept has a certain appeal.)
So I didn’t pay much attention to the shutdown.
I heard it in the hallways, from my parents, skimmed quickly past comments on FB and Twitter. Then today, I came face to face with it. It turns out, in a technological age, a person can only avoid the world so long as they are able or willing to stay away from a computer.
I teach environmental law. Today I went to the EPA to get some snapshots for my slides for class. I use the Environmental Compliance History Online system, or the ECHO system, to monitor compliance with Clean Water permits. I wanted to walk my students through a practical analysis of a real world permit using the system they would use in the real world.
This is what I got:
Yes, the government is unable to update it’s compliance information due to the shutdown. Even worse, I am unable to search past compliance information due to the shutdown.
Then I got an email from opposing counsel in a lawsuit telling me that the Department of Justice is closed and they have to seek a stay in my case.
Mindboggling. The Department of Justice is closed. All because a small percentage of the population is unwilling to compromise on health care.
Oh I know, I know. I am sure you have a million reasons to toss out as to why a measure that passed by popular vote is actually really unpopular with the majority of the populace, but you see, I don’t believe you. Maybe it’s the education in the legal process, maybe it’s simple math.
All I know is a guy I work against all the time, who has two little kids, is the sole breadwinner for his family and who tries every day to make the world a little better is at home wondering when or if he will get his next paycheck.
A rare and endangered snail is languishing in exactly the kind of bureaucratic B.S. Congress wrote the Endangered Species Act to avoid.
And now I have to pay attention to the news.