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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Big "Shutdown": So Much About So Little; So Little About So Much

Well, it happened. No surprise. The federal government has "shut down."

It has done this seventeen times since 1977, and--Surprise!--despite dire predictions, the Republic has survived. The media commentary on the shutdown is generally absurd, predicting a "cataclysmic" result which will cost the economy billions of dollars. Many of the press reports, and the commentary on Tweeter by the low-info crowd which makes up the base of the Democratic party, seem to equate government shutdown with country shutdown. There is a concerted effort to let Obama evade any responsibility for the shutdown, and to promote a mind-set that argues that Republicans in Congress have to go along with anything Obama and Reid want. Much of the commentators need to read the Constitution and understand that the basis of our Republic is "checks-and-balances." No branch of the government has all the powers, and for every power a branch has, it is counterbalanced by a power residing in another branch. It is an intricate and extremely clever document that seeks to avoid government overreach. And that is the subject of tonight's rant.

A seemingly infinite number of stories (I won't link to them, you can find them easily enough) are discussing the "shutdown" in breathless terms. It's a phony "shutdown." The government, read the politically motivated masters of our executive branch, are closing down activities which make no sense to close but which draw lots of public notice. They, for example, shut down the World War II Monument in DC, putting up barricades and Park Police to keep tourists out, when the Monument, essentially an outdoor plaza, easily could have been left open at much less cost than closing it: it takes more police to prevent an activity than to allow it.

The Pentagon has announced plans to cancel the already sold-out Army-Navy football game, which, of course, makes no sense. On a more bright note, however, the White House has suspended Michelle Obama's Tweeter account, stating that, "Due to Congress’s failure to pass legislation to fund the government, updates to this account will be limited." An impertinent question: Why does the FLOTUS have a government supported and staffed Tweeter account? Can't she tweet herself? The account is free, after all, and FLOTUS is not a federal employee. Go on the FLOTUS account, and catch up on the absurdity of it, and see some very funny tweets left by people  reveling in the account being down. Congress, of course, will continue to get paid, and unlike shutdowns in the private sector the relatively small number of Federal employees furloughed will get all their pay retroactively without getting docked for annual leave. I wonder, can we 40% who actually pay Federal income tax, prorate our 2013 tax bill to deduct for the days the government was "shutdown"? Let's all "tweet" the IRS and find out.

I see little commentary, however, on something much more important. In 1962, for example, total employment by the federal government (military included) was 5.35 million persons. In 2011, that employment number was 4.4 million, about one million fewer. Sounds impressive except the decline has come from the military which went from 2.8 million uniformed personnel in 1962 to 1.58 million in 2011. The legislative branch employment went from 30,000 persons to 64,000--more than doubling in fifty years. Executive branch civilians went from 2.48 million to just under 2.76 million. (NOTE: It is not clear from the OPM data how the US Postal Service is handled. The 1962 numbers might well include USPS workers, while the 2011 numbers do not.) More important than those raw numbers, however, the role of the federal government in all of our lives has grown exponentially in those fifty years. We have allowed the federal government to become much too important and much too much of a factor in our lives. As I have written before,
The liberals insist that the country is the government and vice-versa, at least when they run it, and when they don't, well then, they have folks such as Bill Ayers. The liberals have gone from bombing the government to running it; from desecrating the flag to now wrapping themselves in it and insisting that it stands for the government; from resisting the government to using it to transform permanently our country.
and also wrote earlier that ,
The GOP goal should be a government in which 95%-98% of the time it makes no difference to the average American citizen who is president. The US President should matter more to foreigners than to Americans. Except for foreign policy, national defense, times of national crisis, and providing a very broad economic vision, it should not matter who controls the White House. That means keep the government out of as many areas as possible, and where it has been involved deeply and for a long time, try to push the responsibility and resources out to the states, counties, cities, and people.
That is the real tragedy of what we are seeing played out on TV sets and on the other media outlets: the obsession with government. The government, simply, should not matter to our lives the vast majority of the time.

42 comments:

  1. No branch of the government has all the powers, and for every power a branch has, it is counterbalanced by a power residing in another branch. It is an intricate and extremely clever document that seeks to avoid government overreach.

    Indeed. And I hope the "recalcitrant" House members are aware there's this:

    The Antideficiency Act is one of the major laws in the statutory scheme by which Congress exercises its constitutional control of the public purse. It has been termed “the cornerstone of Congressional efforts to bind the Executive branch of government to the limits on expenditure of appropriated funds.”

    http://www.gao.gov/legal/lawresources/antideficiencybackground.html

    Whether any "high crimes or misdemeanors" might ensue ...

    Arkie

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  2. I wish you had not invited me to click on that "FLOTUS" link. From what I read of these bozos, it would be more apt to call it "FLATUS".

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  3. Yup, I was just on "FLATUS" account and saw she only had a little over 500,000 followers. That sounds more like the number of nits she carries in her panties as she does obscene things with carrots and cucumbers. I wish I could think of some more vile things to say about this witch, but it's late and not really worth the effort. How did America ever get these two losers for their role models?

    Seriously though, last night I was watching a color film of Germany in the 1930s. On the film it showed Hitler giving a speech, but there was a translated text in English running at the bottom. His methode of speaking about the Jews was the same technique the Liberals use against the Tea Party and conservatives. Every problem Germany had was with either the Communists or the Jews - and every problem the Democrats have is with either the conservatives or the Tea Party. The very same verbiage - it could have been Harry Reid giving those speech's. Amazing the similarities.

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  4. One sad fact---not all of us who are Feds are raging liberals (as the media would have you believe). Did anybody see that idiotic "typical EPA employee" on the news yesterday railing against the Tea Party yadda yadda. Turns out he's head of the employee union chapter.

    And some of us are still working! Lots of us, actually.

    Guess I am not surprised at how this is all being spun. I expect more silliness as this goes on.

    Also, a salute to the WW2 vets who trampled the barrier and went to see the WW2 monument despite the dumbsh*t attempt to close it on the part of NPS.

    Sheesh.


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  5. Fascinating that so many people were employed by the federal government 50 years ago. I wonder what they all did. This would have been before the War on Poverty, before EPA, Energy Dept., Ed Dept. The whole thing was spending less, though, as a percentage of GDP, than it does now, right?

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    Replies
    1. It's not clear to me how the postal service is handled in those figures. It might be that USPS workers are included in the 1962 data but not in the 2011 data, making, of course, the situation even worse.

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    2. Re: The whole thing was spending less, though, as a percentage of GDP, than it does now, right?

      It was. If I remember correctly, federal government spending as a % of GDP cycled between say 17% and 20%. Now it is 24%+. And one should remember that defense spending then was at least double what it is now as a % of GDP

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  6. Excellent commentary, Dip. Thank you for reminding us just how little the government should really intrude in our life. Those of us who have lived and worked in the D.C. metropolis often forget that it is not the center of the universe, and when we move back to flyover country we need to remember the people we left behind still there still believe that nonsense.

    Oh, and BTW, the FLOTUS Twitter account (which I have never visited and never will), was recently reported by Drudge to have tens of thousands of false, paid-for, followers. And POTUS' account, according to the same report, had 2 million phony, paid-for followers. If the report is true, want to guess if the money to pay for them came from the Obama's pocket or the U.S. Treasury?

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    Replies
    1. No, no, no F you are making the classic mistake. Whenever you use the term 'US Treasury', the actual meaning is 'US Taxpayer' who is getting it in the shorts as usual.

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  7. Amen....just, Amen!!!

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  8. Darn what a good title for a piece!

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  9. They, for example, shut down the World War II Monument in DC, putting up barricades ...

    A term that we might hurry into the lexicon (shamelessly "lifted" from Malcolm Pollack)

    Barackades.

    Arkie

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    Replies
    1. I simply have to steal that! :)

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    2. Well Whitewall, I kinda figured if anyone was likely it'd be you.

      Only thing is, now that you've gone and done what I've done, the DOJ might figure we had a conspiracy already in the works - let's hope there's not an Executive Order extending the RICO statutes.

      Ark

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    3. I plan to adopt a clever disguise, move to a remote location and raise a crop of dental floss, to paraphrase Frank Zappa.

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    4. Might work. Had to think onit. USDA is off tho isnt'it.

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    5. I've seen Barry-cades all over Twitter today.

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    6. Barry-cades....I gotta get that one too!

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    7. I've also use Obamacades.
      It would be epic to see a you tube of some 20 something Metro-sexual wannabe cob getting PWNed by a 90 year old Airborne vet.

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    8. And this one too! The cup runneth over.

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  10. It does list, in Notes:1, the fact that USPS is included, however I wonder .....

    Over here we've allegedly had a similar reduction in government staffing and yet the reverse (in spades) is patently obvious (in some areas of the UK >60% of the working age population is directly employed by .gov - not including all those long term/lifestyle benefit recipients).

    So how come? Much of the growth has been camouflaged. Areas that used to be a couple of civil servants, a secretary and a tea lady are now run by a a 'private' NGO/Fake charities paid in its entirety by .gov 'donations' and 'employing' many hundreds, all at senior management levels with free Mercedes (incidentally, and purely accidentally, all run by close personal friends/relatives of whichever minister is in .gov at the time they were set up - cough, cough .. Labour).

    The military is interesting too. Over here they get data from the MOD. Ask them for 'uniformed military personnel' and they'll tell you (there's about 3 left now I think) but fail to mention the non-uniformed civilian employees of the MOD (numbering millions) who as a consequence 'disappear' from the records.

    I just wonder if there's been a bit of similar accounting slight-of-hand over there too?

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    Replies
    1. I think you're right. I am not at all clear on how the USPS is treated despite what it says in the notes. In addition, of course, as others have noted there are millions more working as contractors and other special categories. The numbers are highly elastic.

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  11. The federal workforce is overshadowed by the contracted workforce. There are likely double or triple the number of people "employed" by the Federal Government as contractors.

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  12. The Federal Gov't is closed.
    Who will spy on me now?
    I feel strangely alone...

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    Replies
    1. No need to feel lonely Babs.

      The NSA, like active mils are considered "essential services."

      Ark

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    2. Babs, that was brilliant. Totally brilliant. Or as our VP might say, it's big f'n brilliant!

      Delete
  13. Best headline from the Washington Examiner:

    Shutdown overreach: More personnel sent to WWII memorial than Benghazi; Park Service closes park it doesn't run

    libertybelle

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  14. Dear Diplomad,
    Is there no mechanism in your Constitution to force an election to resolve this stalemate? In Australia if there is a deadlock between the House of Representatives and the Senate the government of the day can request the Govenor General to dissolve both house of Parliament and call a full election.

    This only happened 6 times since Federation and while an election is costly in time and money it will resolve the deadlock and keep the country functioning.

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    Replies
    1. Your Governor General is, I would guess, the representative of the Queen, who is head of state, or, as being in lieu of the Queen, is head of state. Under your English system, the head of state, being royal in origin, retains the vestigal power to dissolve Parliament.

      Our Constitution was set up after a revolt against Royal government--as the colonists would say, "we have no king but Jesus." The President, who is head of government and head of state, was not by the Constitution granted the power to dissolve anything, although he was granted the power to call Congress back into session from recesses.

      I think the Founders, those who wrote the Constitution, thought: surely our descendants would not elect such a bunch of recalcitrant and extremist dickheads who completely deadlock proper government operations in pursuit of totalitarian statism (e.g. Democrats), but if they do, it should be deadlocked.

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    2. You are right, the GG is the representative of the Queen of Australia, Elizabeth II and is our head of state. Thanks for the clarification, one more question, is there any time limit to the deadlock or can it hypothetically keep going indefinately?

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    3. Theoretically, this could go on until the next Congress is sworn in over a year from now. And could probably keep going afterward.

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    4. Diplomad will no doubt reply with a clearer answer than me.

      However, I have always wondered about those countries that have "special" elections. How often is a vote of no confidence and a call for elections really just a gimmick because the ruling party knows that they face a strong opposition and elections held sooner than scheduled would really cause the other party to not be as prepared?

      And for whatever it is worth; the US government IS functioning. Just certain things are set up for political theater and finger pointing.

      Milhistorian is right, in theory, this could continue until the next congress. I don't think that has ever happened. US voters have short memories; but, neither party would be willing to risk this type of "shutdown" and its political theater during election season - that would be suicide.

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    5. Charles, I can't comment about other countries but in Australia a double dissolution can come into play if the senate and house twice fail to agree on a piece of legislation. Three months must elapse between the two rejections of the bill by the senate so it is unlikely that the opposition party will not be prepared for the possibility of a general election. In fact of the 6 double dissolution elections called since federation (1901), the sitting government which triggered the election has lost 3 of them which to me suggests that the system is working as the writers of our Constitution intended.

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  15. Just a thought, but how much is it costing We The People to have these Obamacades and Guards keeping people out of what is essentially an open plaza?
    And the National Park Service spilled the beans when they mentioned the order to Barrycade and place cops came from the White House (OMB) itself.

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  16. The Dems are losing. If the Gop holds fast good thing will come.

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    Replies
    1. If the RINOs don't buckle, and the public stays on the phones, the Dems will overplay their hand and their media will get more shrill. This Obama mob has been caught in lie after lie and little Barry going on his agitprop tours will get tiresome. I agree, hold fast.

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  17. Back in the '90's, I was "essential personnel" at AmEmbassy Bangkok (lowly consular--not "couselor"--scut), and worked without pay. I survived. To those folks who weren't sharing the road with me on my 26-mile commute to Washington-area work this morning and evening, you'll survive, too.

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  18. I would sorely love to see the O's media shills interviewing Harry Reeeeeeeeeed, Nancy Pellagra, Barbara McCuckoo, Chris Van Hollow, Steny Hoo-haa, and other honorable fiery liberals of the House and Senate to ask them why, if O'care is so wonderful for the country, they've exempted themselves from using it?

    I also understand there's been an IRS audit of Dr. Ben Carson ordered, right after he was critical of the O. Anyone know if there's any truth to the rumor? Sounds like a Chicago, "We'se makin' a offa youse can't refyooze" moment.

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  19. From the Twitter sphere: Obamacare is "So Good" that the president and congress have exempted themselves out of guilt.

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  20. Alright dip.. yer no longer a federal employee, you aren't subject to the shutdown.. so get back to posting!
    pretty please....
    heh :)
    - reader #1482

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  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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