Over the past few days one of the major items of international news has been the looming “shut down” of the US government. Today is the first day when the Repubican-led House of Congress has forced the machine to slow down somewhat. And good riddance, too.
The reason behind the “shut down” is Obamacare. The 1st of October is the start of the 2014 fiscal year, and the House Republicans have been trying to get the bill pushed back a year. Unable to approve the budget, the clash between the Congress, the Democrat-dominated Senate and the Executive has meant the literal shut down of the federal government. Or has it?
The mainstream press would have you think the Apocalypse has arrived. But let us have a look at what has actually been defunded and what is still up and running. I’m sure most libertarians will rejoice that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service will both operate at a skeleton staff level. However, it is far from turning the US into an AnCap paradise: the police, the military, and the welfare state have not been affected. Ironically, it also means that no new gun permits will be issued. NASA will close down, but Space X won’t. Most importantly, the NSA will still be open to spy on everyone.
800,000 pencil pushers and government-teat-suckling scientists will be furloughed, i.e. not paid. But in all likelihood they will all be paid after this is over. In addition, the rubbish in Washington D.C. won’t be taken away. Maybe people will stop throwing away food that’s still perfectly good to eat.
Sadly, national parks, zoos and museums will close. Now, I’m not sure how exactly one closes an expanse of land, but maybe less government management will lead to a more authentic wilderness? I doubt the wildlife will notice. Zoos, even the fancy ones, are just animal torture, and all the private museums will still be open to all those people who still haven’t learned to use the internet.
A comprehensive breakdown of what agencies are affected and how, with added hysteria, is available at CNN.
An interesting side note is that there is a mid-October deadline for Congress to raise $16.7 trillion debt ceiling, otherwise the US might have to default. This fact may give the House Republicans the bargaining chip they need.
So in essence, little has changed. The drone strikes will keep killing, the NSA will keep spying, and even the post will still be delivered. Perhaps the saddest thing about this whole affair is that government shut down affects anything at all in the land of the free.