The Washington Monument Syndrome

Even before the sequester “cuts” began to be implemented, cries of horror and apocalypse could be heard from all corners of the government. (And yes, let’s again begin by clarifying that there are actually zero cuts in spending, only negligible reductions in the rate of already-assumed increases of spending).  There is no need nor enough space to document the supposed atrocities that will take place now because of these cuts, just turn on the the news if you wish to hear the devastation.  In the wake of the hysteria, however, it is important to keep in mind what programs or services are actually being cut, and why you think it were those programs in particular that were chosen.

Enter, the Washington Monument Syndrome: whenever the government is forced to make changes to its spending patterns (aka- to adjust to small decreases in their annual budget raises) it will be sure to inflict the most amount of pain or frustration as possible when deciding what adjustments it will make.

This phenomenon has been repeated regularly as the Washington Monument is threatened to be closed to visitors, National Parks will be shut down, lines at airports will be unbearably long without as many TSA agents on staff, and agencies will be forced to decide whether they will support sick children or poor children.  It is an old trick, and it is an absurd trick.  The proposition that there is no waste within the government that does not directly affect everyday activities is preposterous.  The same technique is used by school districts when their levies fail.  The first thing to go are school buses and athletics, never mind the largess passed out to employees through salary and benefits procured by government sponsored unions.

While hopefully people will start to wake up and see the racket for what it is, I did find it amusing that the White House has cancelled its tours of the building.  On the same webpage discussing the cancellations (due to the sequester), there is also information about how to volunteer to help run the White House tours.  The fact is, nearly every person involved in the running of White House tours are volunteers….isn’t it strange that the tours were the first thing the administration decided to shut down?


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