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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Government Shutdowns, The Debt Ceiling And Gold -- by Pater Tenebrarum via Acting-Man blog, Posted at Zero Hedge

Political Grandstanding and the Dreaded 'Shutdown'

There have been 18 so-called 'government shutdowns' in the US in the past four decades, including the current one. Some were of very short duration, lasting only a day or two, a few lasted much longer (the record was the 21 day event in 1995). These shutdowns tend to happen regularly when the administration is in cohabitation with a Congressional majority in the hands of the opposition party.

For instance, if the Congressional majority is Republican and the president a Democrat as is the case at the moment, the Republicans will suddenly pretend to rediscover their inner fiscal conservative. Republican administrations backed by a Republican Congress are well known for spending money like drunken sailors, so this is really only pretense. The grandstanding is designed to pull the wool over the public's eyes: see, there are finally a few principled politicians making a stand on reducing the public debt!

That is of course nonsense. What the grandstanding and prancing about before the media is all about is only one thing: the question of how the loot is going to be divided and whose pet projects will get the most funding. It is essentially similar to elections in this regard: part of an auction of stolen goods. No-one wants to actually reduce overall spending or the public debt mountain (there are always a few exceptions to the rule of course, but you can count those on the fingers of one hand).

However, one does learn a few interesting things during these 'shutdowns'. For instance, 'non-essential government employees' are sent on unpaid vacation. This immediately raises a question though: if they are 'non-essential', why do they even exist? Once one is apprised of some of the details, it becomes even more obvious that there is something odd about these 'non-essential' jobs. Why are government employees operating ferries to the statue of liberty or selling tickets to national parks visitors? Even if one erroneously believes that such things as 'public goods' exist (i.e., goods for which there is a demand, but which the market allegedly cannot or will not provide) one should recognize that these things cannot be part of such a category of goods, however broadly it is conceived.

The shutdown is therefore a salutary event, if only because it might get some people to ask questions they haven't pondered before. As Murray Rothbard noted on occasion of the 1990 shutdown:
“In politics fall, not spring, is the silly season. How many times have we seen the farce: the crises deadline in October, the budget “summit” between the Executive and Congress, and the piteous wails of liberals and centrists that those wonderful, hard-working, dedicated “federal workers” may be “furloughed,” which unfortunately does not mean that they are thrown on the beach to find their way in the productive private sector.

The dread furlough means that for a few days or so, the oppressed taxpaying public gets to keep a bit more of its own money, while the federal workers get a rare chance to apply their dedication without mulcting the taxpayers: an opportunity that these bureaucrats invariably seem to pass up.

Has it occurred to many citizens that, for the few blessed days of federal shutdown, the world does not come to an end? That the stars remain in their courses, and everyone goes about their daily life as before?

[...]

The 1990 furlough crisis highlights some suggestive but neglected aspects of common thinking about the budget. In the first place, all parties are talking about “fair sharing of the pain,” of the “necessity to inflict pain,” etc. How come that government, and only government, is regularly associated with a systematic infliction of pain?

In contemplating the activities of Sony or Proctor and Gamble or countless other private firms, do we ask ourselves how much pain they propose to inflict upon us in the coming year? Why is it that government, and only government, is regularly coupled with pain: like ham-and-eggs, or . . . death-and-taxes? Perhaps we should begin to ask ourselves why government and pain are Gemini twins, and whether we really need an institution that consists of a massive engine for the imposition and administration of pain and suffering. Is there no better way to run our affairs?”
Indeed, the world will not end because of such a shutdown – on the contrary, it is a great opportunity to observe how many of the functions government has arrogated to itself are indeed redundant. As an aside, it was widely reported that the Republicans tied the question of whether to pass a budget resolution to the 'defunding' of the Obamacare Act. This is an example of Orwellian language. The alleged 'defunding' would not have 'defunded' a penny; it was merely about a few points of implementation. Specifically this particular point:
“Obama and Democratic congressional leaders demanded that Boehner allow a vote on a straightforward Senate bill to fund the government through Nov. 15. Under pressure from conservatives insisting he draw a hard line, Boehner refused.

Before that, the Senate rejected a House amendment delaying the entire healthcare law for a year, Boehner pushed through a second series of amendments to delay only the individual mandate and scrap subsidies in the law for members of Congress, their staff and political appointees.

Led by Reid, the Democratic majority in the upper chamber swatted down each House volley like a tennis player hovering at the net.”
So the major stumbling point that has led to the shutdown was the fact that the Democratic majority refused to give up the special privileges that allow members of Congress - contrary to all other citizens of the US - to 'opt out' from the Obamacare legislation's more onerous provisions. They will be able to save a lot of money that way.

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