One of the great things of living in the UK is our freedom to know that largely, if we want something, its usually there to provide enjoyment or a service that we need. The NHS is a particularly good example of this, although its become beleaguered in recent years from various funding problems and the wranglings of whichever political party is in power. Yet despite these flaws, we’re lucky that these institutions still provide a service and have not yet yielded to political squabbles or non-agreements.
Its with abject horror that I read of the events on the other side of the Atlantic, regarding the US government shutdown. From reading around the subject, the wranglings between the Republicans and Democrats over federal government spending, Congress failed to pass the budget before the end of the fiscal year, which fell on the 30th of September. This failure to reach an agreement stems from President Obama’s election, where the parties have been unable to come to a resolution on the budget that’s exceeded the fore-coming couple of months. This has been heightened by the Republicans opposition to Obama’s proposed healthcare reforms, which is elaborated on in this article.
As a result, all non-vital government departments have ‘shut down’ as their funding has not been agreed. 700,000 of the 2.1 million workers of the federal workforce have been told to stay at home without pay. Services which are vital, such as law and order (prison security/border patrol et cetera) will continue to function as normal, with other departments experiencing severe restrictions in personnel, only doing basic functions.
What’s rung alarm bells with me are the National parks, museums and federal buildings which have been closed as a result. Such key institutions which impart such important information being closed to the public leaves my jaw hanging in disbelief. Moreso, was an article that my cousin linked me to, highlighting the closure of several cemeteries in the US as a result of the government shutdown.
This isn’t solely concerned with the US: many overseas cemeteries owned by the States have also been closed, with the American Battle Monuments Commission shutting its cemeteries in Madingley, Cambridge, and Brookwood in Woking, Surrey. The other twenty two it operates worldwide have also shut their doors to the public. Omaha Beach Cemetery in France is another such casualty, as is the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines.
What’s heartbreaking is that friends and relatives will be unable to pay their respects to those who’ve died serving their country. The removal of a right like that would cause furor if it was to happen over here: those affected have been informed by the American Battle Monuments Commission that ‘will resume normal operations when a new funding measure is passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by the President of the United States’. Let’s hope the wait isn’t too long, and those interred can once more have respects paid to them by their families.