RALEIGH — In the 2006 satire “Idiocracy,” an Army corporal and a prostitute, in an experiment gone awry, travel forward in time 500 years, from 2005 to the year 2505.
Once there, they discover a world run by idiots for idiots. The government’s answer to most every problem is a sports drink called Brawndo, whose parent company has acquired the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Federal Communications Commission.
Ads appear across the land: “Brawndo, it’s what plants crave. It has electrolytes.”
Washington has become a decaying city where anti-intellectualism thrives.
The film was written and directed by Mike Judge of “King of the Hill” and “Beavis and Buttthead” fame.
Judge got one thing wrong in his movie. He only needed to send his characters eight years into the future, not 500.
What is Washington these days but a dysfunctional idiocracy, where Congress can no longer perform its most basic function and where its members block federal employees from getting paid while stating that they couldn’t afford to stop taking their own $174,000-a-year pay?
If the dysfunction in Washington only affected Washington, most people probably wouldn’t care about a government shutdown.
That’s not the reality.
Thousands of civilian workers at Fort Bragg are being sent home on furlough, a move that puts those workers in a perilous financial position and has the potential to damage the Fayetteville-area economy should the shutdown drag on.
Hundreds of government workers and contractors at other federal facilities, including the EPA labs and offices in the Research Triangle Park, have also been furloughed.
National seashores and national wildlife refuges along the coast have closed, with park rangers locking ramp gates that lead to Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches just as the fall fishing season begins. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Bodie Island Lighthouse and the Wright Brothers Memorial at Kitty Hawk have also been shuttered.
Hundreds of miles to the west, federally-staffed facilities along the Blue Ridge Parkway are closed.
The federal government shutdown also affects state government services and programs because a number of them are administrated jointly with the federal government. So health, public safety and environmental regulators who work in state agencies but whose salaries are paid for with federal dollars are also being furloughed.
State officials were still trying to work out what is and isn’t “essential” services and workers, in that regard. Already, though, 337 workers in the state’s heath agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, have been furloughed.
As dollars run out for federally-funded welfare programs, including one that provides food to the infants of poor mothers, those benefits will stop.
There is good new for all those affected by this foolishness.
Next year, they can embark on an effort to have voters can send all members of the U.S. House and a portion of the U.S. Senate home on permanent furlough.
With their newfound time, the former office-holders can perhaps grow a garden and water it with Brawndo.
After all, it’s what plants crave. It has electrolytes.