Monday, October 7, 2013

The Nonessential

As a DC townie, it's tough.  I've grown up inside the Beltway, which makes me something less than American, I suppose.  But watching the goings on among the folks y'all have been sending here lately, I find myself wondering at the whole concept of what is "essential" and "nonessential" to the spirit and character of the You Ess of Ay.

There are some things, the things that make a nation-state, that we've deemed essential.  Then there are the nonessential things.  They're the fat we need to trim as part of getting slim.  Lean and mean, as they say.  What are these things that are wasting our money?

They are things like the National Park Service.  I mean, shoot, the Grand Canyon is just a hole in the ground.  And those redwood forests?  Boring.  What do they do besides grow and take up space?  How do they add to the bottom line?  They don't.  We've got to set priorities here, people, ones that don't reflect Teddy Roosevelt's bad-for-business socialist agenda.

That also means, of course, that major gatherings of American citizens in the Nation's Capital will be on hold for a while.  That's fine.  I mean, really, how important could they be?  C'mon, people.  Can't you find something better to do with your time?  Seriously, get a job.

Or, say, the Library of Congress.  It's the largest repository of historical information and literature in the world, founded on a gift by Thomas Jefferson.  But we've got the interwebs now.  That musty, dusty collection of old scraps?  Who cares.  History is for sissies.  Who has time to waste on that sort of thing?

Or NASA.  Why should we care about NASA?  We can always rent space on one of those Soyuz things, and if you're a billionaire and want to add going to orbit to your bucket list, Virgin Galactic will do just fine.  We can dispense with it.

Or the National Archives.  Hell, there are a billion copies of the text of the United States Constitution lying around out there.  Just Google it, and print it.  What possible reason exists to see some browned old hunks of paper?  We have to be practical here.  No time for pointless frippery and empty symbolism.

Or the Centers for Disease Control?  C'mon.  Just use some Purell.  That's, what, a coupla bucks?  And if your kid gets influenza because we're not tracking this flu season, heck, that's what ibuprofen and/or natural selection is for.  Suck it up, buttercup.

There's so much we can get by without.  Curiosity.  Progress.  Beauty.  Art.  History.  Exploration.  Dignity.  Science.  The General Welfare.  National Pride.  A functioning first world economy.

You can live without all of those things.

Nonessential, as they say.