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Federal Government Begins First Shutdown In 17 Years (forbes.com)
106 points by ddinh 1568 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 223 comments

I really hate that the media has labeled this a government shut down.

Is the NSA going to stop spying on us? Are they still printing money? Are corporate subsidies still proceeding as normal? Will they stop taxing us? Will they stop giving out checks to the military industrial complex? Will they stop military attacks? Will we still be felt up at airports? Are they still going to throw people behind bars for illegal plants?

The reality is that all of the worst parts of the government are still running.

Will they stop taxing us?

Taxes are not evil, bad, or wrong. Excessive taxes are something you can argue about, but the mere existence of them is not evidence of evil.

Thanks for clarifying for me what opinions I'm allowed to have.

It appears that you don't think I should be allowed to share opinions of my own. This is curious, given your clear opposition to the trappings of oppression.

I think he was objecting to your presentation of your opinion as axiomatic fact.

(Notice, for what it's worth, that I said "I think" and not "Actually, he was". The core meaning is the same, but the former phrasing makes it more clear that I am aware the statement was my opinion. Acknowledging that something you say is an opinion is an important part of having a healthy discussion, I think.)

> Excessive taxes are something you can argue about

* I mainly took objection with the implication of your use of the phrase "you can argue about". To me, that phrase either implies that you're saying that I'm not allowed to argue some alternative position, or that somehow my position is the logical equivalent of 1 + 1 = blue.

* I don't have a problem if you disagree with my political viewpoint. In fact, I welcome interesting objections because I usually learn more about peoples' motivations and that helps open up my mind and sharpens my own positions.

* I don't fear a debate about the ethics of taxation and would gladly engage in one with you if you wanted, but I think that would be a further derail from this thread. My main point in posting my original statement was to point out how inaccurate the media is in calling this a shut down when many of the biggest parts of the underlying system keep on trucking.

Claiming that taxes are evil or good is hardly HN material. You are entitled to your opinion but please focus on factual matters, not just opinion pieces. I am sure we all have ours.

This whole article is not HN material, really. You can see why, too: most of the comments are extremely predictable, and predictably bad.

Claiming that taxes are evil or good is hardly HN material.

There was no such claim. Irony is not logic. Have the thought police out-lawed it on HN?

About half the DoD is going home (civilian side). Also the IRS will stop all audits since it is losing a huge chunk of its staff.

Nailed it. I'm surprised there isn't more talk about this.

Yeah! Treasonous National Parks!

I'm sure that the 98% of NASA staff that will be furloughed will consider it to be shutdown.

Not sure who counts as "military industrial complex", but the Pentagon has already said that troops will not be paid: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gC5rwPOPz...

Hours before the shutdown, Obama signed a bill that granted an exception to the military, ensuring it will continue to operate and troops will be paid: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/government-shutdown-se...

Which is also in the article:

>But 1.4 million uniformed members of the military will stay on the job and will be paid, thanks to a last-minute bill unanimously passed by both houses and signed by Obama on Monday night.

Which goes to show that no matter how dysfunctional our government becomes it will go to any length to ensure that it's still capable of killing lots of people.

Someone else might rephrase that as "no matter how dysfunctional our government becomes it will go to any length to ensure that those people who are asked to die in its name still receive the token remuneration promised them."

"...and thus can continue being asked to die in its name."

Not so: The House, Senate and President got a military pay bill in under the wire.


It is worth noting, incidentally, that the DoD is the largest employer in the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_employers

Which I think says something very sad about our national priorities.

That we prioritize jobs?

The DOD is a jobs program, with a side benefit of being a military. But mainly it's a jobs program that also does basic research and engineering.

All the other jobs being furloughed are also jobs. Why not prioritize them instead?

It seems crazy to say, "yeah, those people we hired because we actually want them to work should go unpaid first, and the people we hired just as a jobs program should be kept hell or high water."

Edit: s/laid off/go unpaid

I misunderstood you, I thought you were talking about the DOD being the largest employer, and our priorities about it existing.

As for funding it, it's just because it was an easy vote, not because of priorities.

Er, right. Reading back through the thread, I can see how that was confusing. My fault.

As you've now surmised, I was just complaining about the military's special status vis-a-vis the shutdown, for which "that's a lot of jobs!" is inapposite. But while we're on it, I guess I should say this: I'm for the government providing jobs, but I am against them being in the military, and strongly believe they should be employed more productively and less violently. I can think of a lot of things a make-work program could fix but I can't think of anyone I want to kill.

These days the military is violent very very rarely. And it could be just as violent even if it's was a 1/10 of the current size.

Most of the money goes toward hardware, which means engineers, construction, and the like. And toward eduction - of all sorts, from simply paying tuition to basic training to self discipline.

> And it could be just as violent even if it's was a 1/10 of the current size.

While the number of people actively shooting other people is in relative terms small, to the extent it does happen, it happens because we have a large enough force to occupy other countries and make the absolute numbers pretty high. For example, almost half the active military from 2002-2005 was at one point deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan [1]. We just couldn't have had those wars without 1/10th the military without significantly changing how we wage war. At some level, it's possible that we could be equally violent with a tiny fraction of the military manpower and budget, and the same is true of, say, the Netherlands. But it would be wildly impractical, so in practice countries like the Netherlands don't do it. We're violent because our budget makes being violent easy for us.

> Most of the money goes toward hardware, which means engineers, construction, and the like

I need to be convinced of two things there. First, that it's actually true. The two largest categories (which together make up a solid majority) are "Operations and maintenance" and "Military personnel" [2]. I don't understand what's in that first category, but since there are separate categories for procurement, R&D, and construction, it's not those (education does presumably fall under "military personnel"). (In general, I've always found good numbers on exactly how the military spends its money hard to come by.)

And second, I'm very skeptical that as far as job programs go, the military is a very good one compared to other ways of spending that money. To begin with, the military doesn't create nearly as many useful things. Designing and building bombers might have ancillary positive effects in terms of R&D and employment, but the bombers themselves are only useful for bombing, and mostly just sit around and being ready to bomb things. But what if we made really fancy civilian aircraft instead? It would have those effects and we'd end up with all these really useful planes! Similarly, a lot of the infrastructure the military builds is in far-away countries, or is of transient or at least limited use. Soldiers are getting paid and engineers are building, but they're not really adding much value. Compare that to building bridges or researching solar panel technology.

Next, the primary reason for having make-work programs is that the people receiving all the money are also consumers, meaning the money is fed back into the economy and stimulating further economic activity. The military is terrible at that because a lot of the money is actually spent overseas developing other country's economies.

All of that is to say: assuming we want to spend a few billion dollars on construction, training, R&D, and personnel, why do we prefer to spend through the military instead through other stuff? My guess is that we do it that way because we've always done it that way, and not because it's optimal or even rational.

[1] http://usmilitary.about.com/od/terrorism/a/deploymentrates.h... [2] http://medillonthehill.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/DOD-Bu...

I think he means the contracts are still in place for building more weapons and those weapons will continue being used despite the fact that soldiers and their families will not be receiving their pay.

bill was passed right before to pay them. I don't think they want to risk not to pay the biggest police/military complex ever.

We all spend so much time focusing on the Federal Government but I doubt many of us will even notice the "shut down."

Compare that with what would happen if your local and state governments shut down: Trash would pile up. Criminals would run free in the streets. Fires wouldn't be put out. Water and electricity would stop. Sewage systems would back up. Schools would close. We're talking about services that are the very cornerstones of modern society.

It really gives you an appreciation for what the state and local governments accomplish.

The truly positive contribution of a federal government (besides the questionable benefit of military protection) comes in the form of automatic stabilizers for the economy.

When there is a shock to the economy, social safety nets dampen the pain significantly. Local and state governments would never be able to provide a reliable social safety net, because they have to operate on the same principles as every other user of a currency. The federal government can operate on the principles of an issuer of the currency. That is a big difference.

In fact, you can see this difference play out in slow motion in the Eurozone, which still has not recovered from the financial crisis. Things would have played out very different had their been a Eurozone federal government that provides at least the basic components of the social safety nets.

This is basically argumentation by story. You told one of many possible stories as if it was obviously and indisputably true. You provided no support for it. What about all the other plausible stories that you ignored?

What if these "stabilizers" (i.e. money creation) are doing more harm than good, or even causing the business cycle? What if social safety hammocks decrease growth? What if welfare provided by prudent local governments through savings, or even private means, are sufficient? What if there are a ton of differences between the Europe and America other than the Federal Reserve?

And argumentation by loaded, leading questions is better because...?

I'm not arguing the position, I was providing a few examples where people can reasonably disagree with the story that was presented as obvious and definitive and educational.

The fact that you equate economic stabilizers with money creation strongly suggests that you are not interested in genuine discussion. If you seriously believe that equating those two things is in any way reasonable, then believe me, you're just confused - and if you are genuinely interested in learning more, holler (but it might take a while for me to respond in detail because I'm traveling).

One important point though is that welfare provided by local governments cannot be sufficient. Local governments are entirely dependent on tax revenue and the goodwill of creditors. If a local government is hit badly enough by an economic crisis, they will be unable to continue providing this welfare.

This is especially true if other local governments in the same currency zone are less badly hit by the crisis. In this case, creditors will "flee" towards those other local governments, which creates a vicious cycle.

The previous paragraph is exactly what happened in the Eurozone, except that national governments played the role of local governments.

What if the government was behind 9/11?!!!11

Fact 1: Government current expenditures directly contribute $5.621 trillion out of $16.6 trillion of US GDP.

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/W022RC1A027NBEA?... http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/GDP

Fact 2: State and municipal governments have subsidized borrowing costs via the federal tax exemption. I don't know where you live, but are your state and local governments borrowers? What about the road money from the Federal Government?

Fact 3: Private savings come from public deficits


What if, what if, what if...

Well, you will discover in due time what all of this nets out to and no one will enjoy it. The forces of deflation are far mightier than the forces of inflation for inflation requires persistent and exponentially increasing consumption, fueled by net-borrowing of the combined public and private worlds.

As it turns out, the zombie apocalypse isn't triggered by an infectious disease or rapidly mutating virus. Instead, it's capital destruction via chaining debt defaults.

>In fact, you can see this difference play out in slow motion in the Eurozone, which still has not recovered from the financial crisis. Things would have played out very different had their been a Eurozone federal government that provides at least the basic components of the social safety nets.

I don't understand this argument. Are you claiming that there's no social safety nets in Europe? There are and have been and will still be without a federal government (although I like to argue we already have a defacto federal government).

Just because individual member states provide their own social security and finance it through borrowing money from the central bank(s), doesn't really seem that different from a federal government directly providing social safety nets. In fact, most member states have a way better social security net than United States. I could, in theory, just stop working today and get paid about $1200/month in addition to things like practically free health care and university education. Of course, there are poorer member states that have worse social security.

The issue is with the ability to issue currency, not with the social safety net. The sentence that you reference is a little misleading. What was implied, was that if the Eurozone had a federal government with the ability to issue currency, and that same government was also in charge of the social safety net (among other programs), then there wouldn't be as much of a crisis because they could print money to pay for the programs. Because the social safety nets are implemented by the individual countries, and those countries cannot print their own currency, they are currently forced to implement austerity measures. This is why recovery has been so difficult. The last thing you want to do is to cut spending during a recession.

Thank you for helping with a clarification.

I would add the following: If there had been a federal government, then that government would not even have had to do anything that looked like "printing money" in public discourse.

This is because this federal government would not have had any trouble issuing new debt in the form of bonds. Why not? Because everybody would have known that the European Central Bank would effectively guarantee those bonds under any condition, and therefore there would not have been a panic about the debt in the first place. It's all a psychological game.

As evidence, consider that the fiscal policy part of the US federal government has not done anything that looks like "printing money" up to this point. All they have done is issue bonds, i.e. get loans from creditors.

Yes, the Fed has done things that look like "printing money", but that's monetary policy which has nothing to do with social safety nets.

You can "print money" by loaning it from the central banks, which individual member states certainly can do. In fact, that's what all EU members are doing.

"questionable benefit of military protection" ...

You may not like the extent of their protection, or how they go about protecting, but it is childishly naive to suggest the country does not need protection.

But I know it is cool these days to pretend that the military is 100% evil and every dollar spent on it is a total waste.

I think it's not a matter of having a military but it's relevant how big it is and how much people are working for it (direct or indirect). Keeping the balance. There are so many people working for them or dependent through government contracts in the US, it's shocking (don't know another word for it right now; americans often talk about freedom and free market and so on but so many are dependent on this complex, a huge chunk of their economy is. Like in almost no other country).

I was not overly precise due to time constraints. The "questionable" part refers to the problem of the military-industrial complex that tends to arise.

This is a particularly massive point right now.

With 46 million people dependent on food stamps, the only thing separating the US from great depression style bread lines right now is that single program. Especially with the huge plunge in the labor force participation rate and the U6 being at 14%.

The downside to that is program is, the Federal Government is masking just how bad the US economy really is, with a trillion dollars a year of stimulus help from the Fed. Many people believe the economy is healthier than it really is when they read the fake unemployment number of 7.3%.

According to numerous articles, food stamps (SNAP) aren't affected by the shutdown.

School lunches and breakfasts would continue to be served, and food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, would continue to be distributed. But several smaller feeding programs would not have the money to operate.


The USDA said food stamps would not be affected in October.


One facet of the 'shutdown' is that they're not authorized to hand out federal money to states anymore. The states and municipalities are feeling it for every day that this stupid theatre persists.

They don't hand out money everyday to the same people.

And it is not stupid theater. It is our government NOT at work. We may temporarily recover some of our debt. In fact, if they keep this going for an extended period of time, it might actually help- a lot. Our country has become much too dependent on our government, and now that the two political parties can't get along, there may actually be room for another socially moderate, somewhat fiscally-conservative, deficit hawk, constitutionalist, semi-libertarian party with common sense to come along and bring the country together. Unfortunately, it hasn't organized yet (and no, it isn't the Libertarian party- not with its current leaders- and even with better leadership, Libertarians are incapable of getting the debt under control because they won't allow raising taxes to cover for past debt).

And it is not stupid theater. It is our government NOT at work. We may temporarily recover some of our debt. In fact, if they keep this going for an extended period of time, it might actually help- a lot. Our country has become much too dependent on our government,

And tell me, when was the nation not dependent on its government? When did this era of "rugged individualism" you speak of exist? Right from its very inception, the US government has been intervening in the economy and subsidizing things that the voters deemed desirable. If the US government has grown, it is because the US has grown. You need a larger government when there are 300 million people in the country than when there are 30 million.

there may actually be room for another socially moderate, somewhat fiscally-conservative, deficit hawk, constitutionalist, semi-libertarian party

So... you want a party of magic faerie unicorns to come along and set everything aright. Er, well, good luck with that.

I think many people understand the need for government at the local and state level, its when we get to the federal government that there's problems.

No debt will be recovered. They will include a back pay clause when the funding is finally passed and everyone will get payed as if they had worked anyway.

Edit: spelling

One of the many ironies of a government shutdown is that it always increases debt (unless it were unprecedentedly long, which wouldn't necessarily decrease the debt either, it's just unknown). Think of it like a car on the freeway — you waste gas by slamming the breaks and then stomping on the gas to get back up to speed. Plus, the economic damage a shutdown does will result in suppressed tax incomes at the end of the year.

Actually, I'm pretty sure it costs us money to shut down the government, what with all the disruptions. Less efficient.

If what the state government is doing is useful and wanted, then the state should tax more and the federal government should tax less. This is yet another inefficiency of federal government to act as a middleman.

One of the roles of the federal government is to redistribute funds from states that have populations to tax to states that don't. It's difficult to "tax more", if there's no one to tax (e.g. Montana).

It's no coincidence that the most rural, most Republican states are massive consumers of federal funds (via farm subsidies and transportation subsidies, mainly) and the most urban, most Democratic states are net producers of federal funds.

> via farm subsidies and transportation subsidies, mainly

A transportation subsidy might be local (maybe - interstates are national, not local), but farm subsidies end up being distributed nationally since they basically just mean that certain types of food are cheaper than they otherwise might be. So you can't count farm subsidies as "consumers of federal funds".

(It's definitely an artificial distortion of the market, but that's a different argument.)

A transportation subsidy might be local (maybe - interstates are national, not local), but farm subsidies end up being distributed nationally since they basically just mean that certain types of food are cheaper than they otherwise might be. So you can't count farm subsidies as "consumers of federal funds".

I'm not sure how the conclusion follows from the premises. Farm subsidies do consume federal funds. Where do you think the funding for the massive pork-barrel farm bills comes from? Moreover, those dollars aren't necessarily passed on to consumers. In theory, the market for farm products is a perfectly competitive market and any subsidy to the market would result in cheaper prices for everyone. In practice, well, Cargill exists. Large agribusinesses are quite capable of taking subsidy rents and stashing them away as profit rather than using them to compete on prices if their market is more like a cartel and less like a perfectly competitive free market.

> Large agribusinesses are quite capable of taking subsidy rents and stashing them away as profit rather than using them to compete on prices if their market is more like a cartel and less like a perfectly competitive free market.

What does this have to do with a subsidy? You can do this identically without a subsidy (assuming you can do it at all). The subsidy just lowers the starting price.

State politicians and voters in state elections, particularly in states that are net beneficiaries of the federal contributions, are sure to like the idea.

It shouldn't be that hard right? I'm sure we can make those changes in a few days. We'll feed people idealism in the meantime until we have it all switched over.

Some people actually get paid by the federal government. When these people don't get paid, they are much less likely to spend money, hurting non-government businesses. And the parts of the government that are shutting down also won't be consuming from private business either, again hurting business and the economy.

Your making the broken window fallacy:


If we didn't have these unwanted government services (or wanted services provided very poorly or at excessive cost), then the taxpayers would spent their money on something else -- something that is wanted -- and it would generate just as many jobs or economic activity in some other way.

Over a sufficiently long term (and assuming that the government is actually less efficient than the market). In the short term, one of the biggest employer and consumer is shutting down for an undefined period of time. That causes real short term economic hardship.

The broken window fallacy is only applicable in an economic environment where there is sufficient labor demand and insufficient product supply. America produces more than enough goods for everyone, but there aren't enough jobs.

Besides, which services do you believe are "unwanted?" I agree there are many unnecessary "paper pushers" and managers, but the shutdown affects entire departments. One can't simply stop paying the redundant middle managers, and continue paying prison guards and air traffic controllers.

There are no federal firefighters and beat cops outside DC.

I stand corrected. I've updated my post to note more common federal positions.

Isn't gov't breaking down actually the broken window? We have to spend more money because of backpay and inefficiencies of a sudden stoppage.

I don't see what that has to do with noticing the shut down over the next hours/days/etc

Mother Jones has a good summary of what this means for us


Some things that surprised me:

* Campers: People living (or vacationing) in national parks and forests will have 48 hours to relocate.

* People who make money off tourists: Shuttered national parks are bad news for the hotels, restaurants, and other attractions that feed off them.

* Employers: The Department of Homeland Security's e-Verify program will be offline for the duration of the shutdown.

* @CuriosityRover: 98 percent of NASA's staff will be furloughed, and the agency's website and live-streams will go dark.

and plenty of more serious things mentioned in the article like

* People on food assistance: The USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) will stop making payments on October 1.

I thought the functions like MediCare and veteran's support program etc were still in effect because the yare paid out in advance. So doesn't that cover food assistance?

I keep wondering if the campers have to leave but the rangers aren't working, then how do they force them to leave?

Rangers are technically law enforcement right? They are probably "essential personnel".

well, this is the case for DC. Also, there are a few things you might notice. If you are house hunting hoping for a FHA loan you are screwed for now.


Or any loan. The IRS will not be providing your lender with a tax return transcript and your closing will be delayed. I just closed on a conventional loan and the sequester already was delaying the process.

Or, for students, their student government. For most US College Students, the student government likely makes more important decisions than any other.

Oh, you will if it goes on more than a few days. I remember the 1995 one quite well; you may be surprised by the ripple effect.

I was 11 and busy with more important things (like video games) then, so this is all new to me. Exciting.

If the state and local governments gave sufficient notice, private businesses would snap up the new market opportunities. Everything worthwhile would continue as usual, albeit with less waste.

This needs serious backing as evidence seems to show the opposite. For instance, if we pick firefighting as an example what is there evidence that private firefighting is a good idea? In recent history this kind of thinking have led to disasters like in Tennessee:

  - http://www.nbcnews.com/id/39516346/ns/us_news-life/t/no-pay-no-spray-firefighters-let-home-burn/#.UkpUgGSidTp
and during the 1800s private firefighting was a true disaster for homeowners:

  - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tina-dupuy/firefighting-in-the-1800s_b_247936.html
Private companies are great for a lot of things, but I am not sure that I would trust someone that might decide to prioritize a quick short-term profit over a long-term maintenance goal to provide all essential city services (fire, police, sewer, roads, etc).

By "disasters like in Tennessee," you're referring to a family that lost their home in a fire due to not paying a business for their fire-fighting services.

It's not as if they paid the firefighters, but the firefighters refused to act--if that were the case, there would be a serious civil lawsuit to recoup the cost of the lost home, its sentimental value, and punitive damages.

He didn't pay for fire-fighting. He didn't have enough insurance. And somehow, this is someone else's fault.

Yes, the family had not paid the insurance. But why does that matter in the context of the blanket claim that private companies can always do at least as good of a job as a government organization with less waste?

A city firefighting crew would not refuse to put out this fire so it is an example of a service that was provided at a lower quality in the private market due to market incentives.

The firefighters in the Tennessee case you cited were city firefighters. There were no private firefighters or private firefighting companies involved.

The Tennessee firefighter story has come up on HN before, probably because it was used as an allegory in discussions about the Democratic PPACA health care plan (which I support, ftr).

Some addition fun facts you want to know before making up your mind about what happened in this "disaster":

* The structure that burned down was on unincorporated land outside the tiny town of South Fulton, which is about as far as you can get in Tennessee away from any major metro area (it's approximately equidistant from Memphis and Nashville, near the equally rural southern tip of Illinois and Indiana).

* The owner of the structure deliberately chose to live in an area that had no fire coverage, unlike people who live in incorporated South Fulton and thus contribute directly to the South Fulton FD.

* The owner had no fire coverage because they refused to pay a $75 annual fee to extend coverage to their property.

* The structure that burned down was a doublewide trailer whose value might not have been that much higher than the assessable cost of firefighting service (when this discussion last came up I found numbers ranging from 20k to 50k). You can find estimates on the internet of fire department costs for one incident hovering in the mid-thousands, assuming no complications, and that's the FD's cost basis, not the chargeable cost.

Ultimately I don't think there's much to learn from what happened in Obion County. It will always be possible to situate your home far from the reasonable service area of a fire department, and it seems unreasonable to suggest that merely by doing so, the nearest municipality should be on the hook for providing coverage.

"Individuals make catastrophically bad decisions that the collective can avoid" is a perfectly reasonable lesson to learn from it. Another reasonable lesson is how easily money corrupts people. For want of $75, supposed "firefighters" already on-scene would not even turn their hoses a few inches. I don't know how they sleep at night.

What collective? We're talking about people who deliberately excluded themselves from "the collective".

That's gotta be about the least justifiable statement in political-economic commentating history.

1. Government is less efficient than a privately owned, profit-seeking company--at least in most cases. If a business is inefficient, an efficient competitor will wipe them out. The same cause and effect doesn't exist for governments, except in the most extreme cases (revolution).

2. Markets that state and local governments dominate are large. Do you really think Waste Management would hesitate to take new markets that were previously controlled via government contract? Or that private prisons wouldn't purchase and run ones that were previously state-controlled? Or that power and water companies wouldn't realize the incredible opportunity to expand into new areas that were previously monopolized through government interference?

Your first point is true in idealized situations. There are many circumstances which contribute to the benefit of incumbents. Regulatory capture, first-mover advantage, cartels, price collusion, asymmetric information are just a few tools inefficient incumbents use against new efficient competitors.

Your example of waste, power, and water are a few cases where people, I think, support the government granted monopoly status. These industries have huge fixed costs and generate large externalities. Reliable waste management is a communal concern with clear risks to public health. I'd rather not have the trash company decide my neighborhood is too far to service weekly and switches to monthly pickup.

Government exists as a function of the people to balance externalities. Does it go to far sometimes? Sure. But when people are actively engaged though government can be a force for good.

Do you really think a private police force paid for by a particular group of individuals would be a fair and neutral enforcer of laws?

Yeah I'm sure private policing would work great.

Are you suggesting the state policing is working well?

Yes, because privatization worked so well for the prison system.

I also recall something about private tax debt collectors who basically took peoples homes. Some things should not be privatized or "optimized" for maximum efficiency.

>The bigger issue, he [Vanguard Group Chief Economist Joseph Davis] said, is how much the turmoil raises the “Uncertainty Tax” on the U.S. economy. Policy uncertainty, Davis argues, is already keeping U.S. economic growth down around 2%, when it could be 3% a year.

This is what captures my frustration as well.

It's infuriating that a faction of Tea Partiers is causing such instability. Having campaigned on a promise of doing anything to stop ObamaCare, they've already played their (reckless) hand.

This is bringing a hatchet where you need a scalpel; "ObamaCare" will still go into effect no matter what, and this does nothing more than score political points at the expense of the nation's health.

This is precisely why people hate and subsequently tune out to politics - an unfortunate and dangerous reality.

I see it as all parties involved not working together to come to a compromise. Saying it's just one groups fault is not looking at the bigger picture. If there are members of congress that were elected under the notion of fighting a single law (such as ObamaCare), that should be a message that a large portion of the country does not like the law.

I also see it as a failure of our president not getting the 2 sides to play nicely. Obama should be working with both parties to get the government working. From the media quotes I see from him, Obama is playing the blame game, and not actually working to resolve the issues.

The entire federal legislative branch is at fault for the shutdown, not just a select group that you call out. There has always been divide within congress, but the current congress can't figure out how to play nicely together.

If there are members of congress that were elected under the notion of fighting a single law (such as ObamaCare), that should be a message that a large portion of the country does not like the law.

Or, alternatively, there is a small fraction of the country willing to do whatever it takes to overrule the wishes of the majority, even if it means shutting down the government. It's childish. President Obama was re-elected in 2012. Rather than acknowledge the fact that they lost this battle, the Republicans are willing to do whatever it takes to re-fight (and re-lose).

> I also see it as a failure of our president not getting the 2 sides to play nicely. Obama should be working with both parties to get the government working. From the media quotes I see from him, Obama is playing the blame game, and not actually working to resolve the issues.

What? Obama had a majority in the senate and the house and still tried to get both parties to work together on obama care. The republicans rejected even the plans that had most of their ideas in them, just because they didn't want obama to get credit. Why would you think he would be able to convince them now?

The power of legislators to delay funding in situations like this should be curtailed.

It's infuriating that a faction of Tea Partiers is causing such instability

Why is growth not considered a form of instability? Just curious, last time I looked risk and volatility were agnostic to direction.

Risk is very explicitly directional. E.g. Wikipedia has it as:

> Risk is the potential of loss (an undesirable outcome, however not necessarily so) resulting from a given action, activity and/or inaction

When was the last time you checked?

Instability is volatility (sigma). check it out.


I didn't even mention volatility or stability. I was challenging your assertion that risk was agnostic to direction. It is not.

Try this refresher on Risk and Uncertainty


Steady growth is the expected economic baseline. Wild swings in growth, both positive and negative, cause instability. Instability also reduces long-term growth, because the harder it is to predict what will happen, the less people invest.

I don't want to be mean but this is about the worst HN pedantry I could imagine.

How significant is this though? A quick wikipedia search shows the government has shut down 18 times (including this one) since 1976.


In fact, the government shut down almost every year from 1976 to 1987 (only missing 1980 and 1985).

Well considering it hasn't happened since 1995 (18 years), I'd say it's pretty significant. Also, the GOP reasoning behind it seems pretty silly (defunding the ACA).

It's not very significant unto itself. Total government expenditures are about $6.7 trillion per year, between local + state + federal. The years will keep rolling on, and they're all going to keep spending more with little evidence of a good return on investment from the last $50 trillion they spent the prior decade. All greased by the nice annual trillion dollar shot from the Fed propping up the Federal Govt., the housing market (state property taxes, 'wealth effect') and the stock market.

The most interesting thing about the shut down, is that it represents a total government failure of competency. All parties, the Congress, and the President; and not just now, but the last 20 years, leading up to this mess. From George W's hyper spending, to Clinton continuing the grand tradition of stealing from SS inflows to fake balance the budget, to Obama's hyper spending increases while the Democrats had super majority control of the House + Senate while they had the Presidency. Everybody is to blame in DC; the partisans claiming their side is right are to blame as well.

Slightly off topic, but this shutdown is one of those times where I got a very different perspective simply by reading about it from a non-US based (Al Jazeera) source. It is not that they write anything different than local sources, but the whole situation seems way sillier when I think about how this must look to people outside of the country.

As an outsider, it is definitely seen as "entertaining", while also not really being cared about much. Just another one of those "oh America, you're so silly" moments really.

You do realize that America is a major player in the global economy. If we go down, we are taking everyone with us.

Probably not as much as you seem to think. The last banking crisis originated in the US, but it didn't hit the non-US nearly as hard. In many ways, the US is actually very self-contained and in the backlash from its recent crisis, many countries have kind of separated themselves a bit.

But it would be bad, yes. Though I don't hink the US would 'take down' Asia or Europe.

> The last banking crisis originated in the US, but it didn't hit the non-US nearly as hard.

Didn't the last US crisis lead to multiple countries defaulting on their debt and having to be bailed out and economic malaise that continues to this day?

You're incorrect.

The Fed made emergency loans totaling trillions to banks throughout Europe (including Germany). It took down the economies of Spain, Portugal, Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, France, Greece and others. It forced China to implement trillions in unnatural and extreme stimulus, that has unbalanced their economy. It crashed the commodity markets, destabilizing all sorts of poor countries (and so did the prior Fed driven inflation of commodities, helping to cause food based chaos in the third world).

Just take a look at the stimulus measures, interest rate policies, and growth rate of Britain since the crisis. Ditto France and Italy on growth and EU stimulus (two of the largest world economies obviously) - both are just a small slip away from a Greece style disaster on their debt, with zero growth to help it out and a rather stern (rightfully or wrongfully) Germany unwilling to be as loose as the Fed.

So think of it as gallows humour, then.

My thoughts exactly. People already make fun of our dysfunctional government. It's just adding fuel to the fire. Then again, I make fun of it too... :)

even funnier, the US hasn't passed a budget since '97.

I'm glad this was posted here, otherwise I never would have known.

Something all hackers should be paying attention to, certainly. Many implications for how we write our software, the future of networked communication and more.

I'm glad this was posted here, otherwise I never would have known.

I don't mean this sarcastically -- are you serious? It's been plastered over my news and social feeds for the past 48 hours, but I recognize I have a disproportionately large amount of friends/acquaintances in DC.

My flag privileges were lost during a flight to Cuba, and the guidelines specify that we not complain about the relevance of posts in the comments. So I won't complain.

I just reread your comment and now I feel like a dunce. Leaving my original comment, so that I might better revel in my shame.

Sarcasm can be difficult to express online; I'm glad you explicitly pointed it out in your reply.


It's not so much a rule as it is that Boehner needs to keep a majority of his party behind him in order to remain speaker. If he goes against them, they just vote for someone else. Everyone assumes that there won't be any defectors from either party in that scenario, so whoever gets the majority of the Republicans is the Speaker.

A majority of the Republicans is hardly a small fraction in the grand scheme of ways things can get blocked in Congress. Committee chairs block things essentially on their own all the time.

10% approval rating for congress. Wow. But my congressman is great! /s

Isn't there anything in the US constitution to break deadlocks? In Australia if the government can't get a bill through the senate, they can try again in 3 months and if it still doesn't go through then it can be used a trigger to dismiss the house of reps and the senate and call a new election.

No. There is no monarch or governor general. There are no reserve powers. There is no provision for early general elections. The President is not a Prime Minister, and Congress is not a parliament. Neither is responsible to the other. The House of Representatives and the Senate can each freely block the other indefinitely.

The only Constitutional mechanisms available for breaking a deadlock are Congressional elections every 2 years (entire house and 1/3rd of Senate), Presidential elections every 4 years, and the theoretical ability of 2/3rds of the states to force a Constitutional Convention to propose amendments (this has never actually happened; all Constitutional amendments have been first proposed by Congress; in either case, any amendments must be ratified by 3/4ths of states, which will never happen in the current environment where half the states would be happier destroying the country than seeing the scary black man in office for one more day).

which will never happen in the current environment where half the states would be happier destroying the country than seeing the scary black man in office for one more day

OK, I'm not thrilled that this article isn't [dead] already, but regardless: This is not reddit and absurdities like that comment do not contribute to the discussion.

In my experience, pointing out the hysterical racism involved does contribute to the understanding of the situation by non-Americans. And you don't get to accuse me of absurdities when the other side's motto is "Keep the government out of Medicare!". You just don't.

I don't really know how to respond to this. No one in this discussion said "Keep the government out of Medicare". In fact, as far as I know, no one in the leadership of the Republican party has said it, either, so it would be an odd sort of "motto". But of course you know this.

In contrast, you did ascribe vile racist motives to more or less half the country. Indeed, so racist they'd be willing to destroy the country to fulfill their base aims. All their professed arguments (about, say, the negative effect on hiring triggered by the ACA) are simply a smokescreen. We're lucky our international readership has you to fill them in on this fundamental truth of American politics.

Is this article [dead] yet?

We've heard all their professed arguments every time the minimum wage has gone up, or emissions standards have been tightened, or safety regulations have been increased. Same talking points every time the government does anything, always wrong. It's not even a smokescreen, it's transparent reflex.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart bumps 35,000 to full-time, and another 35,000 temps to permanent part-time. This besides the 55k seasonal they're about to add. So much negative effect on hiring!

We've heard all their professed arguments every time the minimum wage has gone up, or emissions standards have been tightened, or safety regulations have been increased. Same talking points every time the government does anything, always wrong. It's not even a smokescreen, it's transparent reflex.

And it was always racism? I don't think you're being consistent.

We know it's racism this time because they keep accidentally telling the truth. Reflexive use of existing talking points is not tied to motivation behind opposition.

By the way, you also don't get to accuse me of being inconsistent when you're the one engaging in debates on HN that you argue shouldn't be here. You're a hypocrite, the most disgusting, loathsome of sub-humans.

Ha! And it's the right that's accused of "epistemic closure"!

I'm sorry it bothers you I'm having a little fun while hn slides into Eternal September. But I'm old enough to remember these same arguments 17 years ago, and believe you me, Republicans were still obstructionist jerks when the whitest white guy who ever played a saxophone was president.

It's somewhat amusing. Presumably you were not a fan of the last president's Manichean streak. Yet here you are, describing the folks your neighbors vote for in stark, black-and-white terms.

> I'm having a little fun

These are peoples lives, you incredible jackass. Including the lives of my family. How much more inhuman can you possibly get?

> I'm old enough to remember these same arguments 17 years ago

So am I. I also know that the current law was their counterproposal 17 years ago. But now it's the end of the world.

> describing the folks your neighbors vote for in stark, black-and-white terms

I live in rural Washington. My neighbors are every bit the insane bigots they vote for.

We get half senate elections, not 1/3, but a similar result with the senate being out of step with the reps. Which is why in a crisis the double dissolution is a whole senate election to try and get things moving again. It seems odd that the President, being head of state, would not have similar powers to the Crown/GG to dismiss a dysfunctional parliament to resolve deadlocks. Too much power wrapped up in the presidency then I guess.

Similar problems happen all around the world where there is a minority government or an upper house blocking supply bills. The unusual thing with the US is the lack of constitutional mechanisms to resolve the problem before the government has to shut down. It seems odd that the writers of the constitution didn't recognise the problem.

It is worth remembering that the framers of the Australian Constitution were informed by, among other things, the United States' century of experience with their Constitution. They had a chance to fix some of the bugs.

The Westminster conventions your Constitution derived from are younger than the US Constitution (and your Constitution is about half the age of ours), and your Constitution was not written by a generation that had just fought a war to free itself from a monarchy. The Presidency was deliberately neutered, and the concept of blocking supply as a tool to thwart already-passed laws was not well-established.

It seems odd that the writers of the constitution didn't recognise the problem.

There had only been a couple of similar republics before - there wasn't a lot of [codified] experience in the area. The Holy Roman Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had some similar power structures, for example, but I imagine that their process of obtaining and distributing funds was fairly different.

Isn't there a lot of flexibility in Commmonwealth countries with regard to dissolving government and calling for a new election? In Canada you usually just proclaim "this parliament is dysfunctional" and then call a snap election.

I am not a parliamentary expert but there are lots of ways I think. Not passing a supply bill (equiv to the budget crisis) would trigger an election, not passing a non-supply bill repeatedly can be a trigger, a motion of no-confidence in the government. Or governments can resign.

Not being able to pass bills required to finance the government would be seen as equivalent to the government having lost the confidence of parliament and I think under a Westminster system they would have to resign or face being dismissed by the head of state as they have clearly lost the ability to govern.

In fact the "classic" no-confidence motion was a motion to amend the budget by an amount of 1 pound / 1 dollar.

I think 3 months is a bit long to wait, but I'd be all for a new election.

The most the constitution has is that, in the event of a tie, the Vice President gets to have the deciding vote.

"Isn't there anything in the US constitution to break deadlocks? "

Angry constituents, generally.

I would welcome elections now. If we had elections now the Democrats would be tarred, feathered and ridden out of Washington on a rail.

All the news sites in the world to choose from and the one that hits the front page is the one with interstitials before articles and broken, ugly design?

How do the Republicans reckon they'll come out ahead after this? It'll be a GOP bloodbath in 2014.

They feel pretty confident, because they gerrymandered the hell out of the country's electoral map in the 2010 redistricting. That's how they currently have a majority in the House: there is a significant overall preference among the voters for Democrats, but the electoral map has been drawn so as to concentrate Republican voters and break up blocs of Democratic voters, ensuring that they will have enough "safe" districts to retain control of the House at least until the 2020 redistricting.

If you don't want to look like a conspiracy theorist, you should probably stop making such hyperbolic claims about gerrymandering.


There's nothing "hyperbolic" about it. The party that's in power during redistricting always does this. It so happens that this time around it was the Republicans, and they've set up the districts so that they feel safe in pursuing an unpopular agenda.

The actual hyperbolic conspiracy-theory angle on redistricting is that the long-term plan, funded by the Kochs and others, was to ensure that only the most extreme Republicans are safe, and that moderate Republicans will be in danger of primary challenges from extremists.

Political scientists have long said that there's not a lot of evidence for a change in macro outcomes due to gerrymandering. In most scenarios, if anything, gerrymandering makes sitting politicians on both sides more safe. It's really hard to actually tip the balance such that one side gets significantly more seats because if you spread your supporters out efficiently (51% your party) and then cluster the other party, you get a bunch of weakly held seats. However, if you want safe seats, you get fewer of them.

Esch state draws its own districts, so there were 50 different "party in power" scenarios in 2010. Democrats in California gerrymandered themselves into a super majority. In Texas Republicans drew themselves some very safe districts. But there is no national gerrymandering or "party in power".

GOP moderates will take a hit. The more conservative members that are driving this shutdown will end up strengthening their base, so they won't feel as much pressure.

In addition, some theorize that the Republicans can use the chaos and votes supporting the ACA to go after vulnerable Democratic senators.

And maybe I'm getting too cynical, but the extreme Republican line for years has been that government is the problem, not the solution. So I don't think the members chasing the base have the same interest in a functioning state that the rest of them do.

This is exactly the case they are in. If you look at it from the typical tea-party perspective, they were in a win-win situation. Either get concessions on AFA, or shut down the government, which in their view is the root of the problem to begin with. I have to think this strategy will end up backfiring on them eventually, especially when you consider the long term trends in political leanings in the country, but for now, they got exactly what they wanted.

I'm reminded of the dog that finally caught a car and then didn't know what to do with it.

What has surprised me about this issue is how so much of the media has automatically adopted the Democrats narrative (especially on point #1, see below). Surprisingly, the media stories covering this shutdown are actually pretty fair in their summary (at least with respect to point #1).

The Democrat narrative has at least three elements:

(1) The House Republicans are unwilling to compromise and will shutdown the government if they can't get rid of Obamacare. (2) This will ruin the economy. (3) America should pay its bills.

So much of the media has ignored the Republican narrative:

(1) Senate Democrats and the President are unwilling to compromise and will shutdown the government if they can't keep all of Obamacare. (2) Excessive government spending hurts the economy. (3) Going deeper into debt is not paying ones bills.

Like I said, surprisingly the latest blurbs about the shutdown actually focus on Congress as a whole not being able to compromise and come to an agreement instead of focusing only on the GOP or Tea Party.

"So much of the media has ignored the Republican narrative:"

Maybe because it's bullshit.

"Congress as a whole not being able to compromise"

There's no compromise being offered, this is hostage taking. As Kevin Drum said earlier today:

If my neighbor threatens to steal my car, and then comes back and says he'll settle for just stealing my TV set, what kind of compromise is that? What am I getting out of the deal?


Because the Tea Party leaders are being budget terrorists? How is taking Grover Norquist's pledge mean you are able to compromise?

I think you are fairly uninformed about this. Compromise on Obamacare? I don't want to be flippant but do you not know how a bill becomes a law and what it means when it is a law? The ship has sailed for all this; it is have been tested by the Supreme Court. You've got to be kidding.

Shutting down the government is a pretty ridiculous ploy to whine about elections they have lost.

This is really depressing. The system seems to be designed to be strong but not infallible, with the assumptions that the people trusted to run the government would do so competently with the best interests of the nation. It seems clear that a slow process of radicalization has replaced the interests of the nation with the interests of the party and it's unclear how to fix it.

If one group defects to block voting and no compromise the other side has to also defect or be run over. This is the prisoner's dilemma writ large, only we citizens are the ones paying the penalty for dual defection.

Three or four years after the last shutdown (twenty days long!) we had a budget surplus and the lowest unemployment in decades. I'm not saying those things are related, but your pessimism is probably excessive.

That happened during a very strong economy. The economy now is much more vulnerable. An extended shutdown could tip the US back into recession, partly through primary effects (that is, reduced economic activity from everybody the government pays, and everybody they pay) and partly through secondary ones (e.g., consumers putting off spending and businesses deferring investment until things are more clear).

Also, the threats to force a debt default along with the shutdown are dumbfounding. That would, as The Economist writes, "unleash global financial chaos". Poorly handled, it could be worse than the 2008 crisis, especially given what poor shape Europe is in right now.

So like 1% of the Federal government (by spending, just making this number up) is going to be closed.

National parks, EPA, WIC, and Housing and Urban Dev.

99% of the federal government (by spending) will remain open, including:

US Military, Food stamps, Unemployment benefits, Social Security benefits, TSA, air traffic control, border patrol, Federal Reserve, and the Post Office.


800,000 people are getting furloughed and another 1 million are being asked to work without pay. That's pretty significant.

Oh, so shutting down the parts which don't support industries with strong lobbying or lots of political contributions. How am I not surprised?

It seems to me that if it was illegal to combine unrelated subject into a single vote/bill government would run much smoother.

No "pork" or pet projects (you'd have to vote separately on each). You could add ACA provisions to this government spending bill since they are unrelated, so there would be no shutdown.

Since it's hard to define "unrelated" make it so that if 1/3 of the members vote that it's unrelated, then it's unrelated and has to voted on separately.

I hope they get it started back up soon. I was hoping to visit some National Parks later in the month. (Not being sarcastic here.)

This brinkmanship is a travesty.

why is this a bad thing? less spending on something pretty much everyone agrees is bloated is bad? it's like saying morbidly obese person has slightly less access to food. every person in the media seems to assume this is a bad thing. i say this is a good thing. if we can't agree on how money should be spent, it's better that it not get spent at all.

This is retarded. There's just no other word to describe the mental deficiency big enough to render something as large, complex, and valueable as government as uniformly "good" or "bad", or as something that can intelligently be described in terms of "less" and "more" as though it were a basic commodity.

On a more specific note, you have absolutly no idea what's actually happening here. I mean, I don't even know where to begin with how uninformed you are. For what it's worth, this isn't about budgeting for future expenses. This is about whether we honor the bills for expenses that were properly budgeted and legally made. The idea is that defaulting on those expenses will cause the US serious financial pain (which it will). The threat of that pain is being used to extort concessions that failed to win support in the last election. In essence, a distinct minority is using terrorist tactics to accomplish goals both opposed and formally rejected by the majority.

The problem, by the way, isn't that you're totally tuned out. It's that you don't see the problem with being totally tuned out and still having an opinion anyway. There's nothing wrong with saying "I don't know what's going on so I don't know what to think." But knowing not, and knowing not that you know not is the mark of an idiot. Please, spare us.

yep. another person that's completely bought into the media narrative of they're not playing nice, therefore it must be bad. I happen to think the popular narrative that this will end in financial disaster to be wrong. I think previous government shutdowns clearly show this narrative to be untrue. your certainty that I'm ignorant or that this is a certain disaster shows precisely how you don't get my point.

In an office environment. If employees don't work well together they get fired. Why is there no accountability ?

There is. It happens in November every few years.

Wish i could get an extremely well paid job, do jack shit for 2-6 years and then maybe get voted out at the end of that time. Hell, give me a senator's salary for 6 years and I'd be in heaven.

Well, fundraising is a full time job. Can't expect them to do two jobs, can you?

+after you get voted out you can even get a corporate wellfare job as a lobbyist. being a memmber of congress is like an upaid internship. its just the tip of the fun.

You can change who's in office, but it's basically impossible at this point to change the offices themselves. Committees and subcommittees, lobbies, corporations, military interests and other support systems are so entrenched that it literally doesn't matter who you put in power, the same problems will exist.

Anyway, Congress isn't supposed to get along. If everyone agreed all the time we would be able to reduce the system to a single person who made all the decisions. The point to a representative democracy is that the representatives represent different interests. Even the idea of having a vote presupposes conflict.

Well, in this country we have this thing called democracy where random people that don't even know where they are or even what the Constitution is can decide, even on the basis of basically inane or racist views, who will get fired or hired. This is typically different from an office environment.

I remember a couple years back reading somewhere (I tried and failed to find the article) that the Treasury Department's software wasn't actually prepared to stop the automatic generation of checks and payments if the debt ceiling was hit. This was for the first time that there was a "crisis" under Obama, so I would imagine that it's been solved.

Can anyone please, explain briefly what are the downsides and practical problems that ACA will cause?

Since the basics of the ACA are identical to plans Republicans put forth multiple times over the past few decades, the downside is Republicans will be caught in the trap of being violently against something that was both A) their idea originally and B) has been shown to be quite popular among voters once they learn what it actually does.

Thus the Republican party has committed to stopping implementation at all costs.

One downside: it shafts young men uninsured through their employers (read: a considerable part of the HN demographic) pretty hard: http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/14/news/economy/obamacare-premi...

Obviously it would be better to keep things as-is, with non-employer-provided insurance ranging from difficult to impossible to obtain at any price :)

Well, maybe it's not a downside. One could argue that young men have life on easy mode and should be the ones to bear burdens that their advantages let them handle more easily than others.

3 points: 1. those others groups with smaller percentage increases currently pay higher premiums. 2. Young men become old men. 3. Young men actually are more likely to have risky behavior that leads to them becoming old men that take money out of the system.

All of these are basically part of the nature of insurance - pooling risk.

Lots of cheap "catastrophic" insurance plans for individuals can no longer be offered because they don't meet all provisions of the law. The one I was using last year while I was in between jobs suffered that fate.

I've heard something about limiting the choice of specialists to a very narrow list or forcing using regional doctors (similar to UK). Is that correct? That's actually pretty bad if true, since people will be barred from choosing a preferred doctor.

I've actually had time over the past few weeks to spend time watching the various duscussions in the Senate. In other words, I chose to go to the source and take the time to understand rather than get fed a bunch of ideologically loaded bullshit by various news outfits.

Here's reality:

Obamacare is a complete disaster. Don't take my word for it, go research what unions are saying, what businesses are doing an go figure out what you will have to pay and what you'll get for it.

This horrible law needs to be repealed.

We need a budget. Apparently we have not had one since 2008 or thereabouts. I guess when you have a president who isn't even qualified to run a cookie baking operation this is what we get. It is an absolute disgrace that we are plunging this country deeper and deeper into debt.

Finally, Congress has failed to provide our country with responsible governance for decades. Party affiliation does not matter here. It has devolved it into nothing less than a circus. Given that we are locked into this system of government the only conclusion one can reach is that we are doomed.

This govenrment shutdown isn't a problem, no matter how much of an economic impact it might make. Over the next 25 to 50 years this economic impact will be absolutlely dwarfed by the devastation that will be caused by the layers of irresponsible actions we will have to live with.

I say: Go for it! I hope people understand why it is important to take the pain now in order to right the ship for generations to come.

"rather than get fed a bunch of ideologically loaded bullshit by various news outfits.

Here's reality:

<a bunch of ideological bullshit>"

Take your astroturf back to Fox News.

Have you actually watched the debates in the House and the Senate and then compared to how they are being spun by the various TV networks? The contrast is nothing less than disgusting.

Please, do it. Fox News is irrelevant.

As if shooting the messenger is going to refute the argument.

Sorry you didn't make an argument. You claimed to be impartial and then let the truth slip with your tirade about Obama and right wing talking points.

You don't need to watch CSPAN to know exactly what is happening here: one half of one branch of the government decided they wanted to take the US economy hostage and run it back into recession if their demands weren't met.

You are showing exactly why we are in trouble. You refuse to look at facts and, instead elect to engage in personal attacks. I have news for you: reality does not change in any way as you do this.

Please launch your favorite spreadsheet and do a little work to understand the financial mess we are in. It really doesn't take that much work to speak from a very different reference frame, one armed with facts.

You can take the imaginary high road and post as many walls of text as you want, every reply you've gotten thinks you're just an Obama hater regurgitating tired talk radio talking points. Good day.

I apologize if this is inflammatory, but: "I guess when you have a president who isn't even qualified to run a cookie baking operation" -- this is where you lost all my interest, hyperbole or not.

Don't take my word for it. Here. Do this.

Go to Monster.com or the appropriate job board.

Find a job description for a CEO of a non-trivial business. Say, a manufacturing operation with thousands of employees, international reach, a complex supply chain and a well developed channel of distribution.

Now go back and find Obama's resume from 2008.

Objectively look at it and compare it to the resume of seasoned C-level executives who might apply for such a position. You can use LinkedIn for this purpose, find people who you think might be qualified for the job and, therefore, could be interested in applying.

I hope your conclusion will be that Obama was, in no way, qualified for such a job. Not even close. He had been on the job as Senator for two years and was a law professor before that. There seems to be nothing whatsoever in his life experience that could even remotely paint him as qualified to take on such responsibility.

His resume would go in the trash bin instantly and a polite email dispatched to inform him that he is not being considered. I could see HR going "Why is a law professor applying to run a business when he knows absolutely nothing about running any kind of a business and has no relevant experience?".

My statement is, without a doubt, factually correct. Perhaps it offends you. However, that does nothing towards altering it's veracity. In fact, it can easily expanded to declare that it would have been unlikely for him to have been qualified for C-level leadership positions at any non-trivial business. He simply wasn't qualified.

Yet, we gave him the largest economy in the world to run. During the first two years he could have done whatever he wanted. He had the House and the Senate. Any half-way-decent business person would have had a laser-like focus on the economy, jobs, reducing spending and facilitating economic activity. Not him. He didn't have a clue. He focused on anything but the many elephants in the room. That's a matter of record (and the lack of results). And here we are.

Want more proof? Remember what he said about the National Debt as a Senator? Don't remember? Here, I'll help you:



And now we are at $17 trillion and he wants MORE!

And we have no budget.

And every bill being passed is chock-full of earmarks and back-end deals that would sicken most.

On top of what I said regarding his qualifications, he also happens to be a hypocrite and a liar. I'll leave it up to you to go back and review video records of the things he promised and compare them to what he's actually done.

When every union in the country is screaming bloody murder about Obamacare you know you have problems.

That said, this isn't about Obama and Obamacare. This is about the branches of our government having plunged us into a very dangerous position over the last, say, fifty years. Again, party affiliation isn't relevant here. These people are making bad decisions on both sides of the isle.

Regardless of whether you agree with me or not the fact remains that our kids are going to inherit a disaster of nearly unimaginable proportions. Perhaps you are OK with that and choose to look the other way due to party or other loyalties. Thou shalt not speak ill of our tribe! Or some such thing. Well, that's cool. I admire your loyalty. However, the one important detail is: This does not change where we are headed.

What's your limit for the national debt?

When do you say "enough!"?

We are at $17 trillion right now [1] (well, just shy). That means each tax payer would have to pay nearly $150,000 [1] in order to pay off our debt today. You and I are not paying it off any time soon. And, if we continue along this path even our children will not be able to pay it off.

How much is enough?

Senator Obama said adding $4 trillion to the national debt was "irresponsible" and "unpatriotic", his words, not mine. He was right. What, then, is adding another ELEVEN TRILLION [3] by the time he leaves office? He is on track to more than double the national debt with respect to what it was when he took office.

At what point are you willing to proclaim that our government is fiscally inept, irresponsible and, yes, unpatriotic?

Do you understand how important it is to bring things back to a more reasonable state? Surely you do. I can't imagine anyone not researching this at least to an extent where he or she can understand the numbers and their consequences. A couple of hours of Excel work and your jaw should be on the floor. And you should be angry too.

[1] http://www.usdebtclock.org/

[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kuTG19Cu_Q

[3] http://www.usdebtclock.org/current-rates.html

You appear to misunderstand what I mean when I say I'm not interested.

I don't mean "I won't take you at your word". Being a polarizing political subject, I would take the word of not even myself - I can and have been wrong on such matters. Personal interest in reasonable arguments from both sides may lead me to entertain various arguments, especially if they're well conveyed, including on subjects which I do not feel personally affect me, but which do affect the rest of society.

In losing that interest, I've lost my only reason to entertain your suggestions as for what to look into, and so I shall not. Why would I be interested when you so willfully distract from the subject at hand -- that distraction being polarizing hyperbole about irrelevant fictional cookie baking, and arguments about how this is factual and relevant? This is not time well spent!

I will note presidential budget vetos can and have been overridden by congress. This budget hasn't even gotten to his desk, correct? If you wish to blame the presidency in this, you must also blame congress as a whole for failing to be able to build and reach the consensus necessary to override him, and you must also blame the electorate for voting for that congress. Your interest in hanging this albatross from his neck does not inform, entertain, or otherwise interest me -- discouraging me from informing, entertaining, or otherwise trying to interest you.

> It is an absolute disgrace that we are plunging this country deeper and deeper into debt.

You mean since Bush slashed taxes to create massive debt?

I like how this is the only post the OP hasn't replied to. I guess at least Bush had experience as a CEO - even if not quite the hard work, dedication and a healthy dose of risk taking OP values so much.

> a president who isn't even qualified to run a cookie baking operation

Obama's at 811,417,118.8 Cps in Cookie Clicker - what have you done that's so great?

Read my prior post on this for support of my assertion.

As to what I have done vs. Obama. Well, first of all, neither you or I should be the scale by which a President is measured. A President ought to be better than most of us in areas relevant to running a country, an economy.

You are an educated man. I presume you studied logic and know full well that shooting the messenger does not refute what the messenger might be claiming. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and suggest you might want to run through the exercise I suggested in an early post in response to similar criticism [1]. I would be very interested in your reasoning showing how 2008 Obama was qualified to become CEO of a non-trivial enterprise, particularly when compared to seasoned and tested C-level executives.

I am not going to engage in a "what have you done?" conversation. I'll simply say that I have been an entrepreneur my entire life. I have started businesses, employed people from varied disciplines and backgrounds --including software engineers like you. I have succeeded and failed. I have been bankrupt. More than once. And I have pulled myself up and out of such circumstances through hard work, dedication and a healthy dose of risk taking. My life, for better or worst, has given me a unique perspective. And, while I freely admit that I am far from infallible I really don't think I am wrong on this one. There's nothing in Barack Obama's 2008 history that even approaches the development of an understanding of how a non-trivial business operates, much less an entire economy of this scale.

A sailing analogy is apt here. As a long time sailor I can tell you that anyone can sail under typical benign Sunday-Sailor conditions. There are two conditions that separate the hobby sailor from those who really know what they are doing: the extremes. It takes a lot more work to sail a boat when there's very little wind and you need to waste nothing in order to move. It also takes a lot of experience and knowledge to sail a boat under heavy winds and dangerous swells. Neither of those conditions are suitable for someone who has no experience whatsoever at the helm. One does not give you enough feedback. The other could kill you and your passengers if you need to learn on the job. You want to hire an experienced skipper, particularly for the second scenario. A Sunday-Sailor is likely to get you killed. That's as close as I can get to explaining who we gave our country to in 2008 (and, arguably, in 2012).

Our government has been steadily and systematically destroying our country from the inside for the last fifty years. It is hard for me to imagine a way to refute this. Shoot the messenger if you must, but he message stands on it's own. Regardless of who I am.

Yet I am nobody. I'm just a bunch of words you read on this screen. Read them. Decide for yourself. The irony of all of this is that regardless what you or I say we will both have to live with the reality our government is creating. I can't possibly imagine anyone with a reasonable degree of intelligence and education thinking that this reality is one headed towards anything other than a disaster.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6474544

I- I- I mean- what? I apologize for writing short, pithy posts about a topic you clearly care a lot about, but what? Let's ignore the part where I referred to a current fad game to make a clearly joking reference. Your country has always loved its learned men, its gentry-without-titles, and sometimes its celebrities, for politicians. Lincoln and FDR were lawyers, Reagan was an actor for chrissakes. You think they had a better understanding of The Economy than you or Obama? Who was the most recent self-made businessman/CEO to be your president? Who was the most recent president to have declared bankruptcy as a result of business risk-taking in his career? You wrote about Obama's failings specifically in your first post - now they're turned into the last fifty years? And you think the partisan showdown going on now is an improvement over that?

[not my quote...but relevant]

In essence, America has told the world that as long as the business of this country is functioning, your wealth, as represented in Marks, Yen, Pesos, etc. is backed with performing US debt. It's like saying, "as long as your neighbor, next door, does not loses his job, you will not lose all your money!

Costs around $50 million a day to be closed.

Imagine how many people that money could help, how much health care it could buy.

But the savings is much, much more. And the less federal government, the better (especially in these days).

I know, right? Screw those moochers at the Centers for Disease Control. Big gummint out of…uh, influenza!

How does that compare to how much it costs per day to be open?

Well you get zero value for the $50 Million, so that is kind of irrelevant.

Also, all these short term extensions prevents each part of the government from buying what it needs to operate in bulk, they now have to pay top dollar for small amounts.

So super-dooper expensive. But that might be the plan to jack up the cost and say "look how expensive!"

1 trillion in red ink

Middle class is virtually gone, so what do you think happens when the vultures circling see that all government protection is gone from their prey?

The red ink is from everything that is still running right now, ie. the military industrial complex.

The red ink is from the military industrial complex and extreme over promises made to the entitlement systems (used to buy votes for decades and decades). The bills are coming due, and it has been obvious for decades that America could never afford to pay them.

And worse, this is all happening without the true cost of the US debt being taken into account. We're temporarily getting a free stimulus from hyper cheap interest rates on about $12 trillion of debt. That debt at a mere 5% to 6%, wipes out Social Security or the entire military.

Social chaos begins where the violation of the so called social contracts begin. That time isn't far into the future now. The American people are just as responsible for this mess as the politicians, if not more so. That middle class voted this mess into being over the course of many decades, either directly or by negligence and willful ignorance. If the American people aren't careful, they're going to get exactly what they deserve.

It's happening


You definately don't want that all the people with such high access to basically everything digital in the world (including your credit cards and all your banks accounts, to say the least) suddently feel unsafe about getting their salary.

Pretty sure they would consider that an essential service that won't be shut down.

Well, Obama and his Administration finally made a 4th quarter, last ditch effort -- after reading the polling tea leaves -- to appear as if they have a spine.

However, I think both parties may be surprised in the next elections to find just how much in disgust the U.S. public holds them.

That is, if the voters that put them there can finally remove their heads from their asses.

A primary responsibility of government is a certain degree of stability and predictability. We haven't had that in years.

As for the yahoos in D.C. I'm very tired of their self-serving "tantrums". Fuck them all.

Let's keep track of what technology related services get shut down. Please reply here.

For animal lovers out there, contrary to reports, the National Zoo's PandaCam is still operational (as I type), so enjoy while you can!



Even with all the money being printed by Fed (>80 billion usd per month!) there is not enough money for the biggest military+police government on Earth.


Fascinating stuff.

Without going into the details... you know that the Federal Reserve doesn't pay the bills, right? The Treasury does. And when the Treasury pays the bills, it doesn't really have much to do with the Fed buying bonds on the open market. The Treasury pays bills based on interest on national debt, stuff like social security and spending approved by congress. For some reason, congress implemented laws which mean that they have to give permission to the Treasury to pay the bills that congress itself voted into the budget.

My point is that this whole debacle doesn't really have to do much with the Fed, and the Treasury is just following the orders of congress.

*Edit: Ah, I see from stalking your profile that you are not American. Well I can see why you'd be confused - shit's confusing. I don't think even most US citizens understand how it works.

You have a lot of things mixed up. This isn't about not enough money. It's about Congress having to pass a budget in order to run the government. Maybe you're thinking of the debt ceiling?

Now we can determine which part of government we did not miss and shut those down permanently.

Haha, exactly what I was thinking. Like the part where the IRS stops auditing...

> Like the part where the IRS stops.

There, fixed that for you.

Whoops, that's what I meant to say. Good catch!

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