By Dimitris Filippidis
(Translation By Lisa Darilis)
It happens to the best of families ultimately, even where you didn't expect it, or when you never believed that it would happen...and it happened to the U.S. government - a padlock was placed on the public sphere, publicly known as a shutdown.
In the beginning, it seemed that the threat was taken lightly, but later on it became a grave reality, and October 17 was seen as doomsday for American economy, and by default the global, economy.
This story has all the elements of a political game of chess - political tactics, battles of the egos, hidden agendas, pressure on each side, under-the-table actions, and a battle of the wills. This is a game that can only be played by a nation with favorable power. This public spectacle is what has frightened, worried and sent people into a mode of panic.
This scenario could very well have been taken from an over-imaginative Hollywood script.
Take 1: A few minutes before midnight on October 1st, 2013, the White House informed the federal agencies that they will be shut down, as the budget wasn't passed for the debt limit deadline of November 15th.
Take 2: All federal museums and monuments remain closed at the disappointment of tourists, and hundreds of thousands government employees live with the agony of suspension from duty. In the meantime, the only government workers who are still receiving a salary are senior citizens receiving Social Security benefits, and the ones to blame for this mess, the U.S. congressional representatives.
Take 3: The Democratic Party seems to have its back up against the wall, alongside President Obama. The Democratic Party was the minority in the House of Representatives and they couldn't win the initiative to end the economic crisis. Obama, in the meantime, refused to step back when it came to his "Golden Apple," Obamacare, his innovative and unprecedented bill for healthcare. The 44th U.S. president recognizes that if this bill passes he will win historical fame, instead of being remembered for his mistakes and oversights. This is his own personal directive, not only to be honorably recorded in history, but also as a matter of self-respect.
The Republican Party, having control of the House of Representatives, realize that they can continue this "bluff," until the last minute. Mr. Benner and his party may press, bluff, and try to win this "game of chicken."
Take 4: As far as the distressing cost of the shutdown, according to Goldman Sachs, the weekly cost is 8 thousand million dollars. Other analysts hypothesize that this could slow down the annual growth and development of the U.S. economy by 1.4%. In addition to this loss, the U.S. has to face the cessation of payments on October 17th. For the first time, we clearly can see how leading factors of the global economy are "throwing darts" at Washington, by telling them to stop this absurd theatrical scene, and are warning them to take this matter seriously.
China and Japan are greatly concerned over the repercussions of this debt ceiling for the first time in U.S. history. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Europe are also on edge about this.
Take 5: The publicity that is being published these last few days demonstrate three matters that have been found to be of extreme importance:
1. The crushing majority of votes amongst the American people that lay the blame on this economic crisis on the Republican Party
2. That only 5% of Americans agree with the way Congress has been operating.
3. That President Obama has a lower popularity rating: Back in 2008 he had a
67% popularity rating, whereas now it has fallen to 37%
Amongst all these tragic numbers and ruinous scenarios, is the reality of what America is experiencing. Questions, that have caught up from the already suffering nation of Greece, are full of interest and agony. How will the crisis forcibly drive matters? How will the public react? Will people take to the streets in protest? Will they burn filled trash cans? Will there be milk on the supermarket shelves? WIll politicians be attacked? Will they go on strike? Is anything flowing? Is public transportation operating? Have buildings and services been seized?
The answer is probably surreal.
First Act: Shutting of the national monuments (as it happened to the Acropolis) in all states, including New York.
Thousands of tourists visit New York every year, and seeing The Statue of Liberty from up close is one of their top priorities on their itinerary. Last week I happily entertained a couple of friends who came to New York from Greece. I took them, of course, to the infamous Manhattan, to take a ferry and visit Miss Liberty herself. As we approached the area, we saw long lines with crowds of confused people. Two young government employees, politely, yet sadly, informed us that The Statue of Liberty is closed until further notice. Despite this news we didn't get angry, as the two employees were so polite that they discouraged us from doing so. Despite the mass of crowds present, there were no incidents nor protests. It was just simply a matter of simple understanding. Announcements were also being made by the NY Waterways Department which coordinated and distributed flyers with information on the closing in various languages. Put this image in your mind next to that of the overall shutdown, or the protests at the Acropolis, where tourists, upon reaching the top of the hill, found no one to inform them of what was going on.
Second Act: The national park at Salem, Massachusetts was forced to shut down its tourist center, which remained completely unstaffed. Volunteers hastily ran to help the situation, who also participated in putting on the haunted attractions, which bring in 30 million dollars a month. This goes to show you how some citizens are still concerned about their community's profit, or losses for that matter. As you can see volunteers do show up to help outside the Olympics.
One thing is indisputable, that the "sneeze" of the United States economy has brought on a cold, or more likely pneumonia, to Europe and Asia. Many criticize the untimely and timid acts of this economic crisis' top players. It is also believed that the underlying blame for this economic bankruptcy should be shared.
No matter what proceeded first, the end consequence is the political and economic bankrupt state Washington has found itself in. For the rest of us who are driven to live a different reality, we continue to ask ourselves where this social cohesion has come from. In a such a large mass of land, where such a large diverse population of all races, religions, and cultures live , how is it possible that just days before the deadline everything is operating on a pretty normal basis, and as for the government and services that are not in operation for civilian community members to volunteer and keep operations going?
In today's Greece of civil pressures and the vast public mechanism or machine, how come everything seems as if it were torn up into pieces and scattered everywhere?