Petty politics

Why the government shutdown isn’t really all that bad

Written by: Kurt Melville
You know that thing everyone said was going to happen, but didn’t believe was going to happen? Well, it just became a reality.

That’s right, (parts of) the federal government shut down last week. Cue the rampaging criminals and Rothschild-induced economic apocalypse!

Except not really.

The federal government “shutting down” is a lot like how Ferris lost power last week.

There was an initial worry (or hope?) that all of campus wouldn’t have power and we’d have an early weekend. However, as the situation became clearer, we realized only a portion of the university had lost power for an extended period. Much to the distress of students, non-affected colleges resumed classes.

But even then, the people who didn’t have to attend class were impacted.

The semester stops for no one – especially pharmacy and optometry students – and everyone who missed out on class has to somehow make up for lost time.

It’s the same way with the government shutdown; it doesn’t affect you until it actually does. On my own personal social media, I’ve seen people lamenting about their federal background checks being held up and others worrying about their VA benefits arriving on time. The U.S. based market research firm IHS said the shutdown will cost $300 million per day.

Even for people who think government spending is all fairy dust and unicorn hair, the economic consequences of a shutdown are real. In a PBS interview on Oct. 2, Mark Zandi from Moody’s Analytics said taxi drivers, restaurant owners and other businesses have already felt the pain in D.C., and the tourism industry outside the beltway has been affected by the closure of federal property.

Everybody makes fun of the shutdown of National Parks, but some of these places have serious guest safety concerns the staff help to mitigate. I went to Yellowstone National Park years ago, and you could easily have fallen into a canyon or pool of boiling water if the infrastructure wasn’t well maintained. If you happened to journey into a park and become injured or lost, who would be there to rescue you, or even know you were there?

While this shutdown is certainly interesting for a political junkie like me, I’m positive nothing can beat the last government shutdown. On Dec. 16, 1995, President Clinton faced down Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and shut the government down for 28 days. Paid federal workers were furloughed and sent home, which lead to unpaid interns taking on more responsibilities involving face time with the president. Coincidentally, Monica Lewinsky was an intern for Clinton’s chief of staff, and got to spend some literal face time with the president.

The details of the affair are a bit too raunchy to print, but shine a light on the reasons that maybe, just maybe we shouldn’t shut the federal government down for petty party politics. Even as the Treasury Department releases spending data over the first two days of the shutdown to the tune of $63 billion, we are stuck in this fantasy world of shutdown politics.

Speaker Boehner has already conceded the Affordable Care Act was the law of the land after Obama secured his reelection in 2012. It’s obvious the political process has been hijacked here and Americans deserve representatives who are above this type of behavior.