The government shutdown is hardly apocalyptic

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In her overwrought column "Welcome to Ted Cruz's Thunderdome" (Oct. 7), Maureen Dowd imagines an apocalyptic future if the federal shutdown continues indefinitely: riots because police aren't paid, plagues following the shutdown of the Centers for Disease Control, floods and wildfires after FEMA shuts down, terrorist attacks because the intelligence community is on forced leave, the Mideast in flames after U.S. intervention there ends ...

Ms. Dowd gives the federal government far too much credit. Police are paid by state and local governments, which haven't shut down. Most of history's worst plagues -- cholera, typhoid, bubonic, etc. -- were eradicated in the United States before the CDC existed. Polio was wiped out mainly by the private, voluntarily funded March of Dimes. And the CDC was slow in its response to the latest plague, AIDS.

FEMA is not the only organization that provides relief to disaster victims, and far from the best. Recall that private groups like the Salvation Army, and even businesses like Walmart, were faster and more effective than FEMA in helping people after Hurricane Katrina. And federal land mismanagement has resulted in recent wildfires being bigger and more severe than they used to be.

I don't share Ms. Dowd's confidence in the intelligence community. It routinely spies on ordinary Americans, but it overlooked clues that might have prevented 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings. And far from bringing stability to the Mideast, the United States' misguided, trillion-dollar interventions have left hundreds of thousands dead, injured or displaced, and their countries in more disorder than before.

Ms. Dowd is so wedded to the myth that all good things come from the federal government that she ignores the facts in front of her. She really needs to get out of Washington occasionally, read more history -- and cut back on the caffeine.

THOMAS GILLOOLY
Forest Hills


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First Published October 10, 2013 8:00 PM


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