Ironies of the Season

A former student of mine, Derek Thomas, is a policy analyst at the Institute for Working Families–a local think-tank that focuses on policies affecting (duh!) working families. He has a recent post at the Institute’s website documenting the toll taken on those families by the ongoing sequester.

I couldn’t help feeling a twinge of guilt as I read the catalog of the sequester’s consequences for my fellow Hoosiers, not because I consider myself culpable (I didn’t vote for those responsible, nor did I support the use of this meat-ax approach to budgeting), but because I hadn’t really thought about the sequester in such concrete terms.

Most Americans who share my good fortune–still middle-class, still employed, still able to make my mortgage payments–think of the sequester in terms of policy, assuming we think of it at all. It was stupid and cowardly, evidence of Congressional dysfunction. We haven’t thought about it in terms of Indiana children thrown out of Head Start, or elderly folks who aren’t getting hot Meals from Meals on Wheels, or the landlords and tenants alike who no longer receive housing vouchers both depend upon…let alone the multiple other hardships detailed in Derek’s report.

Worse still, the full impact of the sequester hasn’t yet hit.

While low-income working families are struggling with the consequences of decisions made by people those decisions wouldn’t affect, our news media has focused on the Black Friday near-riots at big-box stores, as shoppers fought each other for the presumed “bargains” on display.

What was really on display was the disconnect between the “still-haves” and the “no-longer-haves.”

Also on display was the evident lack of concern about the latter category by those of us in the former one.