Monday, September 30, 2013

The Government Shutdown Kabuki

At least three times today at work, I heard references to the current DC kabuki theater.  Every opinion was "shut 'er down!".  In a building full of engineers, where instead of the roughly 50/50 makeup of the country it's closer to 75% sane, that didn't surprise me.

What surprised me was a couple of details I heard from DC reporter Jamie Dupree during the drive home.  First some background.

Of course, you know we haven't passed an actual budget since '09?  The last actual Federal Budget was in April of '09.  (article from 2012 talking about it, and more in the Dupree article linked).

According to Dupree, the last time budgets were passed on time, that is, according to the constitution and law, was in the mid 1990s. You will note that neatly covers both parties as the majority; no one has the monopoly on irresponsibility.
Congress has not finished its budget work by October 1 (the start of the new fiscal year) since 1996; lawmakers haven't finished their work on time on the 12 individual spending bills that make up the budget since 1994.
Late or improper budgets go way back, though.  What he said that got me is this:
As we count down to midnight Monday night and a possible government shutdown, remember that we are fighting over how to fund the government for only a few months.  Not for a full fiscal year, but just until mid-October under a funding plan from Democrats and to mid-November from the GOP.  
This whole charade, this whole drama-llama, attention-grabbing, media whore-fest, is for either two weeks or six!  Of the 17 or so previous government shutdowns, all but one were over in less than two weeks.  And don't forget, in about two weeks, the "debt ceiling" impasse will happen, with dire warnings over the end of the world, if we don't give the Evil party every penny they want.  Remember, Comrade Peloski said there isn't a single dollar left to cut in the federal budget! 
And, really, Pelosi’s comments make perfect sense. It’s only logical that government spends a million dollars to study the “sexual attractiveness” of fruit flies. It’s only prudent that government pay out $2 billion to farmers for not farming land. And, of course, it is only logical that the government shell out $500 million on a program that would, among other things, try to figure out why five-year-olds “can’t sit still” in a kindergarten classroom.
That doesn't even scratch the surface.  There's $3.4 million for turtle tunnels under roads.  There's the entire budget of the Department of Education.  There's $10 million for algae energy programs.  I'm stealing this from Kevin, but I know he got it from someone else. 

As others have said many, many times:  rope, trees, some assembly required...

And as for the shutdown... let 'er rip.  Shut it down.  I don't see anything to lose.  You have to know that, just like two insurance companies going to a costly courtroom trial, they wouldn't be here if both sides didn't think they had the winning hand politically.  It's like 535 stubborn kids.  Let 'em fight. 


  1. There's one thing I really, really never understand about a government "shut down." They send the non-essential personnel home. Why do we ever let them come back?

    1. This made me think of one of the funniest bits in the entire "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", the last episode. The inhabitants of one planet put all the management consultants, marketing managers and other useless people on a space ship off the planet, telling them, "you're so important, you go first and we'll follow you". But never did. They cleaned up their planet in one evacuation.

      We could put up a sign to put all the essential government employees on a space ship. Or get them to meet in a deep mine (yeah! to keep you alive when the killer asteroid hits!). Then just lock it and drop the key in some acid.

  2. Because security guards can't launch rockets. Today, Kennedy Space Center sent everyone home except for 9 security guards and locked the gates. Only the security guards were deemed essential.