Now that it’s over (whatever “it” is), I guess I should say something about the government shutdown.
We should begin by establishing what the heck actually happened. The government employs roughly 4.5 million people.
(This figure has been broken down in lots of different ways, but I’ve never seen any argument against using the total number).
The shutdown began by sending 800,000 of them home, but after a few days, about 400,000 came back to work. A breakdown of those furloughed is here (note the number of furloughed employees looks huge here because huge parts of the government aren’t shown at all).
So, about 400,000 out of 4.5 million people didn’t come to work for a couple weeks. Let’s say that the “shutdown” of government means that about 9% of its workforce doesn’t come to work.
We’re coming out of a recession in which lots of business (that are still going concerns) laid-off a much larger fraction of their workforce. We never considered those places “shutdown.”
It’s also worth pointing out that these employees in many cases kept working, may get paid twice (indeed, even the Outer Party was eager to have it known that it wanted to pay employees to not work), and got paid to do a lot of fun stuff.
We’re left to conclude that nothing was really “shutdown” and no one really has much to complain about.
Besides the freak-out over the “shutdown,” I was also struck by the freak-out about the idea that government “isn’t supposed to work this way.” I find that surprising because – if the shutdown was an honest disagreement as opposed to political theater – it strikes me that if powers are really separated, the shutdown is exactly how government is supposed to work.
If power is really separated, everyone should be grasping eagerly for it. If it’s all a show, we should see one party constantly agreeing to the demands of the other (so much for separation of power – hey, it was a good idea in theory). It seems like we see the latter.