Word For The Day: Punitive Ineffectualism: (A.K.A. 2011 Tour of Reality Denial: Part II)

Punitive Ineffectualism: When a person or organization deliberately chooses to be outrageously incompetent to piss people off. Example; “I’d ask Bill to pick up beer for the hunting trip but he doesn’t drink alcohol and he’d buy Zima or some other crap. Rather than deal with that idiot’s punitive ineffectualism I’ll get it myself.” It is a gambit which can backfire by generating unforgiving animosity. Example: “Remember last year when Bill threw $50 worth of Cuban cigars into the lake because he wanted to save us from cancer? As payback I’m waiting until we get to bear country before smearing his tent with bacon. Take that you sanctimonious motherfucker!”

Within minutes I found the first punitive ineffectualism. The tax on those bad at math government monopoly in gambling lottery tickets at a gas station had a sign that said “Due to the state shutdown these are not for sale”. Scratch off tickets are not sold by State labor! Not for sale? Why? It was punitive ineffectualism; an attempt to annoy as many people as possible so they’d think the State is essential to happiness. Like burning down all the lawns in the subdivision that did not cut their grass to the 1 and 1/4″ required by the housing association.

Example one: Prohibiting the sale of something which already exists, brings in money, and is sold by private (not State) labor.

The only lottery that I'll accept as a legitimate State function. "Bust a deal - face the wheel."

Later I stopped at a bait shop. (It’s hard to be in Minnesota without thinking about fishing.) I don’t have a license and the owner sadly informed me that he couldn’t sell one. Minnesota’s license system is usually excellent. Places like bait shops have a calculator-like device to print the fishing tag and they take your money for the transaction. How much State labor does it take to baby-sit the system? None! Just leave the power on! I wasn’t the first guy he turned down. The owner had already lost money. I used the moment to wheedle a discount on a cool lure.

Example two: Shutting down a network of hunting and fishing license sales which brings in money and is administered by private (not State) labor.

Electronically networked license systems are very complex.

If they won’t sell fishing tags how can they expect me to have one? Maybe I should go fishing anyway? As if on cue the radio reported that game wardens were still on the clock and in full force.

Example three: Carefully and deliberately enforcing a permitting system which you’ve shut down. This example is the first instance of a State employee actually doing the labor and it’s the first example of “service” not affected by a “shutdown”. You couldn’t make this up if you tried.

Have you been fishing? DON'T FUCK WITH ME!

I fired up my laptop and surfed Minnesota’s DNR site. Were wardens really on the clock? (My new lure was calling to me!) I’ve surfed the DNR site before and it’s surprisingly informative. This time it was pre-empted by a screen about the shutdown. It was very clear that game wardens were dying to arrest a Curmudgeonly poacher. So much for that.

At least I’d saved a few bucks. I clicked past the splash screen to see what a license would’ve cost. Denied! Due to punitive ineffectualism they’d shut down the entire site!

Example four: Shutting down a website and using the same servers that were formerly useful to tell me about it.

The Department Of Natural Resources needs a large staff to maintain its website.

That evening a bartender told me stories about folks who’d been kicked out of a State Park. I nodded in sympathy. That’s happened to me too. There was whiskey involved and when I tripped over the chipmunk while carrying a crate of flare guns…

Unlike me, (I deserved it) this group wasn’t causing trouble. Yet a Ranger came to their tent and made them leave. The “shutdown” meant the park had to be “evacuated”. Is that so!?! A tent campsite is dirt and a picnic table. The State thinks citizens can’t sleep on the ground without State assistance?

Has it come that far? The campers had been angry. They should be.

The rumor was that Park gates statewide were chained shut over the holiday weekend. (I haven’t confirmed this.)

Example five: Kicking Citizens out of their Park and locking the gates. They could have left the gates open and let people sleep in tents without payrolled babysitters. Instead they ruined thousands of holiday campouts.

Go ahead and camp now. Punk!

I hoisted my beer and shouted (to nobody in particular); “Parks are the property of the people!” The bartender smiled. “I’ve got a Canadian fishing license right now. I’ll fish there bitches!” I’d insulted the fishing; in Minnesota that’s serious. The bartender grimaced. “They’re killing tourist season! There’s walleye in Canada and deer in Iowa. Screw the DNR!” The bartender looked grim. “When there’s six feet of snow, tourists will remember this day. They’ll take the money they’d blow on snowmobiles in Minnesota and use it for hookers in Vegas!” The bartender stepped forward but it was too late to stop me. A crowd of like minded barflies joined me in ranting about peons with the temerity to chain a Park gate.

Why the hell is there a gate at all!?!”

This is what punitive ineffectualism does. Innocent employees become instigators. Visions of noble firemen are replaced by the memory of a tool in uniform ordering you to roll up the tent and leave. An isolated jackoff blocking a website “to save money” isn’t going to fool people who’ve used Facebook for free. Employees formerly assumed to be good folks inserted themselves into a battle they should have sidestepped. Game on!

Wrong way to win your case! I’ll sympathize with the mailman who comes late if it snows but if he shits on the porch it’s a different situation. Citizens who’ve experienced punitive ineffectualism now hate the State. What good came of that?

Only overconfident wankers would light such a fuse. They’ve paved the trail for their own unpopularity. The next round of cuts will be that much easier. Who weeps for the man who locked a website? Who respects Dudley Do Right after he ruined your campout? Try landing financial support for parks that were chained shut on Independence Day. A dog that bites the hand that feeds it needs an attitude adjustment and invites it’s delivery.

Punitive ineffectualism looks better on paper than it plays in the real world. What’s tomorrow’s Tea Party if not today’s kid who was “evacuated” from a park and who knows damn well that leaving a DNR server switched on doesn’t cost much? As with Wisconsin’s collapse of support for teachers, various Minnesota agencies have sown the seeds of their own reduction. Folks who sat the fence are gradually getting primed for payback in the next budgetary cycle. Nothing Public Radio says will counteract the actual truth.

And by the way…I never did see Armageddon…just interrupted fishing. Which is no big deal and proof in itself that the tail really can’t wag the dog.

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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5 Responses to Word For The Day: Punitive Ineffectualism: (A.K.A. 2011 Tour of Reality Denial: Part II)

  1. Suz says:

    Hmmm. Most politicians are male, right? Not to bash my favorite gender, but I think they learned this behavior at home. “Punitive Ineffectualism” sounds like another subcategory of “See What You Made Me Do.” It’s eerily similar to “Acquired Male Incompetence Syndrome,” only it’s malicious, not lazy.

    WTF is wrong with these people? Minnesotans play outside in January when it’s -20F! Get between them and their fishing/hiking/hunting/camping? A lynching would not surprise me.

    • Good grief! Don’t blame this on the Y chromosome! Elected women rise to the occasion equal the incompetence of their male counterparts.

      And yes, if you’re willing to fish from a wood box in -20 weather you’re already “all in”. There’s not much a bureaucracy can do that’s worse than January!

  2. LeverAction says:

    Case in point, the talk about Social Security checks not going out if the “Ebil Rethuglicans” force a .gov shutdown by not raising the debt ceiling again. The whole thing is a Kabuki theater of the type you describe, only this time on a national scale. Take away granny’s gubmint check and you’ll people riled up alright, but I’ll bet the Washington staffers still get paid. I would be nice if more people would step outside their petty partisan world and take a big look around every once in a while.

    • Agreed. The air beyond various beltways is literally awash in common sense.

      Also I agree that a shutdown should mean a shut down. Not 30% of the workforce goes home and the other 70% simply doesn’t provide services.

      Who knows, a REAL shutdown might actually save money. Wouldn’t that be a cool, back door way to adapt to government grown beyond what the populace can support? “Sure the voters will get everything they are used to but only 11 months out of the year.” Stranger things have happened.

  3. Pingback: Punitive Ineffectualism: Example and Cure | The Adaptive Curmudgeon's Blog

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