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Government Shut Down

Well, who actually cares?

If 1/3 of the federal government employees are relieved for a while, does that mean that 1/3 of the federal tax collections will stop?

Or more important, does anyone understand that the total government employment in this country is close to twenty million people?

That’s right, 1 in 7 “jobs” in the U.S. are held by government workers – the vast majority (close to 90%) are at the state and local level. And the world is going to end when 800,000 red-tape appliers are going to be furloughed for a few days? Gag me. And by the way, if 1 in 7 people work for government, that means, in my estimate that something closer to HALF the population is in some way depending on government for the existence – think of all of the contract workers, think of Lockheed, and think of the family sizes of the 1 in 7 employees. That probably gets to a pretty big number.

And again, if stopping payment on 800,000 federal workers is going to crash the economy, then we have a real crappy economy. And if stopping payment on the 800,000 is tragic, where does the money go? Is it not being collected? Is it not being spent by the taxpayers? Where, exactly, is it going? Please do tell.

9 Responses to “Government Shut Down”

  1. Alex says:

    Doesn’t seem like it would be so bad: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/09/29/questions-and-answers-about-the-shutdown/2888419/…some highlights:

    Could government agencies ignore the shutdown?
    Under a federal law known as the Anti-Deficiency Act, it can be a felony to spend taxpayer money without an appropriation from Congress.

    When was the longest shutdown in history?
    The longest was also the most recent: from Dec. 16, 1995, through Jan. 5, 1996. That’s 21 days.

    Will I still get my mail?
    Yes. The U.S. Postal Service functions as an independent business unit.

    Will the District of Columbia shut down?
    …during the shutdowns in the 1990s, trash went uncollected, and many city departments closed.

    Would a shutdown put the brakes on implementing the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare?”

    • Harry says:


      The whole government will not shut down, but expect the government to inflict maximum political pain, to protect itself as if it were a living organism.

      Fortunately we are free , and our government does not have the defensive capabilities to protect itself as do North Korea, Cuba, Iran, or Russia, where a government shutdown is unthinkable, and, come to think about it, where they have strict laws controlling firearms and political speech, including limits on campaign contributions.

      The District of Columbia police department will not shut down, nor will their sorry schools, nor will the Metro. Nor will the Senate barbershop close to fail to give Harry Reid his coiffure and manicure.

    • Harry says:


      The big government shutdown in 1995 was a bit different historically, as I recall. I invite others to correct me on the facts.

      First, it occurred later, and as I recall, it was in November, which is near the end of the political season when all elected people go home, unless they stay to Christmas Eve to pass socialized medicine. Now we have two and a half months to debate whether Congress should be given special waivers, and the problem of forcing young people
      like you, Alex, to fork over money to pay for cheaper care for tenured forty something professors. (This is not about Medicaid, a separate problem, which pays for the poor).

      Second, once the government reopened, Bill Clinton declared the era of big government was over, won over Bob Dole, a weak establishment Republican compromiser, and proceeded to cut capital gains taxes, freeing up wealth for imvestment. Clinton did hand GWB a recession, typically, but with all his problems did with the Republicans and Democrats ended welfare as we knew it. That is a big joke today, but it was good enough for a while, and was the result of political pressure from the Right.

  2. Harry says:

    I bellyfeel Obamacare.

    How about for starters, eliminating the Departments of Agriculture (to keep things simple, give food stamps to the Department of Justice), the Department of Energy, and the EPA? What have those agencies done for you or anyone you know, besides tripling their heating bill?

    The sad part of the prospective shutdown is that nobody will be taken off the payroll, and there will be measures to ensure they will be paid for idle hours, which may be how they are paid on the clock, busy online reading TUW.

    OK, I am a radical. But even if one wants to play small ball, there has to be at least ten percent in every corner off of every area’s current costs, and not from the baseline, which assumes an automatic increase.

    Speaking of small ball, Greta just observed that the debate right now is six weeks, during which Ben Bernanke will create another hundred billion of fiat money to buy ten year Treasurys and troubled assets at high prices for not his but our portfolio for the benefit of borrowers and to the detriment of savers.

  3. RIT_Rich says:

    “in my estimate that something closer to HALF the population is in some way depending on government for the existence”

    I’m not sure I follow here. Sure, contractors, Lockheed etc etc. Most of these are in the defense sector anyway. But if we ignore them for a second, shouldn’t the proportion of family members be just as much for gov workers as non-gov workers, and hence 1 out of 7 workers should translate to roughly 1 out of 7 people? Half, may be too much.

    Also it is likely (from my experience) that gov workers tend to be married to other gov workers, so we may be double-counting here in a lot of cases.

  4. Alex says:

    Sooo, with the shutdown actually happening, I got curious about just that…what would actually happen?

    I decided to try and make my own chart. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ApaHQNDNvIuHdDR1dkJSeGRMd29XWnZnY2lhNmVSUlE&usp=sharing

    Since I use quarterly real GDP growth data, the first one is missing GDP growth data during many of the actual shut-downs. I tried to eyeball the missing points and created a second one. Some totally non-statistical guesstimating observations:

    1) There doesn’t seem to be a serious correlation between government shutdowns and slower growth. In fact 4 or 5 (1977, 1978, 1982, and 1988) out of the 17 shutdowns since 1976 occurred during or just before an uptrend. 4 occurred during an already happening downtrend (1977, 1979, 1986, and 1990).

    2) Also, longer periods of shutdowns (1977, 1982, 1984, 1995) were not particularly correlated with large drags.

  5. Alex says:

    I’ve begun passively compiling a list of people who would care. Here’s so far:

    1) people who have hearings and deadlines in cases pending before the USDL.
    2) anyone with a justice department civil case
    3) business who want to check on employees’ legal status.
    4) people with hotline call medical questions
    5) veterans looking to process education and rehabilitation benefits

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