During the last couple years of the Obama Administration, I had a number of spirited discussions with a (now former) friend of a Facebook friend, mostly centered on the relative value of government as applied by the administration then in power. As President Trump’s march upward through that large field of GOP candidates progressed, our discussions shifted to his relative value as a political candidate (he’s a deal making businessman, not a politician!), as well as speculations about his possible proficiency as Commander in Chief.
In one particularly contentious exchange, my opponent planted the usual flag of Trump’s business accomplishments, citing as unimpeachable fact that someone as rich as him didn’t get that way by accident. I countered with a claim that Trump’s greatest claim to fame, like many of his “new age” business contemporaries, was his ability to spend someone else’s money and take personal credit for any successful results. Fast forward to the situation we now find ourselves in, with the federal government partially shut down for the simple fact that one person is denied the use of everyone else’s resources to finance a pet project that a majority of Americans find to be a foolish waste of borrowed money.
Twenty-five years ago, during a 13-month self-chosen hiatus from railroading, I enrolled at Flathead Valley Community College in an effort to augment my life work experiences with some academic background. During one particular class, a discussion arose about the relative valuation of various pursuits of labor and the instructor noted that “every time I climb aboard an aluminum tube with a hundred or more strangers, I sincerely hope the pilot is completely satisfied with his ongoing job experiences.” With regard to the flight from our local airport we have scheduled in a few days, I’m not only cognizant of those words, but am also adding an additional concern for the TSA and Air Traffic Control employees who, for at least the present and a yet to be determined time thereafter, are essentially being forced to work for free, not as victims of a fight over sound policy, but for the satisfaction of a grudge.