So, a small part of the Federal Government is shut down, for how long I really do not care. Most of the EPA is shut down, so that is nice. Some parks I rarely visit are closed, but the ones I do visit normally close after Labor Day, so I would like to care, but I don’t. Maybe the Obama Administration will close the ski slopes I use (they lease their land from the Forest Service), but nothing so drastic yet. Things are about the same, really, so the motivation to write a Shout Bits article is slight at best.
I do not care that a bunch of people in Washington who meddle in things they should not are unemployed. I do not care if Washington landlords might not get their rent checks on time. I do not care if restaurants and grocery stores have to check the quality of their own produce – I trust Costco to do a good job on its own. With each passing day, it becomes obvious to me that a partial government shutdown is not a crisis.
The Old Media presented the shutdown as a horror show worse than anyone could imagine, but nothing has happened on this home front. NPR dredges a daily story about some obscure group that is harmed by the shutdown, but their stories only drive home the fact that the average life is unchanged.
The sequester and the shutdown really amounted to nothing huge; I could easily live with both indefinitely. The next horror will be the debt ceiling, but I am having a hard time generating outrage and concern. If two much-hyped disasters turned out to be nothing, then the debt ceiling Armageddon is probably over-sold as well. Indeed the debt ceiling might be instructive as were the sequester and shutdown.
The US Treasury can still service its debt with tax revenues. Interest last year was $416 billion, while revenues were $2.7 trillion. There is no danger of default unless the Obama Administration wants it for political leverage. The Fed prints something like $68 billion in new money per month, which is close to the $973 billion annual deficit. Indeed, the shutdown plus the Fed’s money printing could close the gap nicely.
The Federal Government’s most popular programs are Social Security, Medicare, and the military. If these programs were fully continued plus interest on the debt, they would consume about all the Federal revenues, leaving nothing for courts and roads. However, these programs do contain discretionary spending, and could easily be reformed. Social Security disability fraud alone is easily $100 billion per year.
The debt ceiling might be worse than the non-events of the sequester and the shutdown, but it hardly looks unmanageable. The only way taxpayers were able to find out that the government does so very little to help them was to allow the first two manufactured disasters to happen. Maybe a few days against the debt ceiling will do something similar.
Either way, unless someone slipped a Klonopin in my breakfast, I see no reason for much concern. The Federal Government has grown far beyond its Constitutional purpose, and Washington is the home of corruption and self-service. The lives of politicians and bureaucrat hacks are so far removed from mine that their collapse rates a yawn.