How the Shutdown Affects Me

Question from the gallery:

Now that you’ve written about the shutdown, can you tell us how it’s affecting you personally? How will the debt limit issue affect you, if we default?

With regard to the shutdown, it’s not really affecting me directly (yet). The only federal government service I use directly on a regular basis is the US Post Office, which is up and running because it’s funded outside of taxes. Everything else the federal government does for me is at least one step removed from my wanderings during the day, so as a practical matter I don’t yet see or feel the impact. I don’t suspect this will last if the shutdown drags out, because the federal government underpins quite a lot of the functioning of the US, and those holes will show up more frequently, and I suspect will become more alarming at an increasing rate.

One step removed, I know a fair number of people who are federal government workers or have businesses that rely on the government being up and running in order to function (and for them to get paid). These folks obviously have it worse off than I do at the moment. Congress has said the federal workers, at least, will get paid for all the time they’re furloughed, which is nice, but in the meantime they’ve still got bills to pay, etc.

Also, here in Bradford there are a number of people, adults and children alike, who use the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which is substantially funded through the federal government. The Ohio Department of Health notes on its Web site that the program is funded through October. After that, things could get tight. We already donate to local food banks and charity programs here in town, so we’ll keep doing that.

With regard to a debt limit default, well, like a lot of people I have a 401(k) and other market-engaged retirement accounts, and I don’t like thinking what a default will do to the market. The only “good” thing about that is that I still have at least 25 years until I retire (to the extent that one retires from my particular line of work) so there’s a good chance this immediate stupidity will be flattened out over time.

That said, in the wake of the first US debt default ever and the resulting financial chaos that will ensue from it, to a very real extent we’ll be in uncharted territory afterward. The only thing that I’m fairly certain about is that the folks in Congress and out of it who are currently trying to suggest that we’ll just shake off the default as if it were no big deal are both wrong, and of course monumental hypocrites, as in, if it really were no big deal, they wouldn’t have maneuvered to use it as leverage to force concessions out of Obama. Simply put, it is a hell of a big deal, they know it, and the end result isn’t going to be good for any of us.

The short version of all of the above is that I’m in a good short-term position not to have either the shutdown or the default affect me directly — but the long-term fallout will affect me like it will everyone else. If this were a flood, I’d be on high ground. But if the flood keeps coming, sooner or later I’m going to get soaked like everybody else.

77 thoughts on “How the Shutdown Affects Me

  1. the US Post Office, which is up and running because it’s funded outside of taxes….

    Sort of. More like “because it’s funded outside of taxes and some other reasons.” A number of functions have reportedly been shut down despite being self-funded and/or usually being open to the public and unstaffed.

  2. Similar situation, John- Except that I live in a state where the largest single employer is the Federal Government, and the second largest is an aggregate of Federal contractors.

    Last night we went out to get a burger at one of the most popular joints in town and it was… well, hear the hollow echo in that dining room. We were one of maybe three parties eating, during the prime dinner hour, in a place that’s normally full enough, even on a week night, to require a short wait at that time.

    The ripples from this are going to be broad, deep, and very, very ugly here.

  3. I am a cpa. So far, the only major effect on me is that I can’t call the IRS to get answer to client’s tax notices

    I also have a link on my yahoo page to the NASA picture of the day. Evidently, it is unavailable during the furlough.

    I am very worried that the government will default on it’s debts since I have a son that is a senior in college. I am sure that a default will make it very difficult for him to find a job. At least, under Obamacare, he will be able to stay on my health insurance until he is 26. (Would that be an example of irony?)

  4. I’m impressed — *contemptuously* impressed, but impressd nonetheless — by the contortions of most of the corporate media to treat this as yet another “both sides” story. So much so that the Republican brand is only in a tailspin, and not already a smoking hole in the ground as it should be.

  5. I don’t suspect this will last if the shutdown drags out, because the federal government underpins quite a lot of the functioning of the US, and those holes will show up more frequently, and I suspect will become more alarming at an increasing rate.

    Sorry if this is off-topic, but that’s a really interesting point – and it’s only going to become sharper if the debt ceiling gets smashed into. The political map of Ohio may be pretty deep red (at the moment) but it’s funny how Republicans don’t find the evil blood-sucking federal government so bad when a hurricane or wildfire has ripped through their ‘hoods.

  6. @uleaguehub – Whenever I hear stories like yours, I think of that popular canard about how the government doesn’t create jobs. Except for the people the government employs, of course. And the people who sell them goods and services. And the people who have jobs only because there’s a road or public transport that lets them get to work. And so on.

    But otherwise, the government doesn’t creates jobs. Uh huh.

  7. One of the things that is upsetting me the most is that Congress will, one way or another, be insulated from any of the chaos that they generate. Their pension plans will likely not be impacted, or if they are, Congress will find a way — and magically pass a resolution quickly — to reinstate any funds lost to their portfolios in the ensuring economic downturn (if we do fall off the cliff) — just like they would not be impacted by any changes to Obamacare (though their staffers might) because they have their own separate health care benefits. Excluding some great statesmen in the last 50 or so years (i.e., ones that I’ve been around to actually notice), in the main Congress has appeared to solely operate on rampant self-interest — but it’s never been so crass and blatant as in the last few years. Meanwhile people, real breathing people, are suffering and will continue to suffer because no one on the Hill can get their head out of their ass long enough to notice. And unlike the federal workers, who I don’t begrudge getting back pay, the average citizen will *not* be made whole, but will fall further behind, eventually requiring more assistance from a safety net that is dissolving as we speak.

    As someone had said in one of other comment threads, “while I may not know who i’m voting *for* in 2014, I do know I’ll likely be voting against ‘incumbent'”.

    Man, there’s just not enough alcohol…

  8. The Republican response to actual problems occurring because of the shutdown has generally been to blame them on Obama or the Democrats in some way or another. (E. g. the shutdown shouldn’t really be that bad; if something you need or like is closed, it’s because Obama did that to make you hurt! Or because Democrats won’t accept Boehner’s bills to keep the Republican-friendly parts of the government open.)

    It’ll be interesting to see if that sticks. So far that seems to mostly work inside the conservative idea bubble; but a lot of people are blaming “both sides” in a roughly balanced way for the whole mess, and “both sides” blame generally sticks harder to whichever party is in the White House.

    So I think it’s still quite possible that the House Republicans will succeed in gaining politically from sabotage in the long run. The ideal situation for them would be if they could keep the shutdown going on forever, and just fund the pieces of the government they approve of piecemeal. They effectively run everything at that point. But the default threat kind of puts a deadline on things.

  9. @ cranapia:

    That’s different because reasons. Also, the hurricane was probably another false flag operation, created by Obama’s weather machines. Which are run by the same people who fake the climate data. Or something.

  10. Keeping the current debt limit does not cause default. Default would be failure to provide payments on the current debt. The US takes in about 10 times the monthly debt service requirement each month. Keeping the current debt limit would cap the amount of future wealth redistribution since the debt means we are not taxing ourselves enough to pay for give away programs but instead will tax people who can not even vote yet.

  11. The flood comes. I should invest in a boat, maybe.

    *sigh* I have no grasp on this because, yes, it does seem like our representatives are very picky about whom they actually represent — I mean, I understand the bit about wanting to help the folks who voted for you, but the IDEA is that you represent ALL the people in your area, not just the “special people”. And, most of all, you aren’t there to represent just yourself.

    Too much effort playing blame games like a field sport. Too much investment in “being right”. Could this be the actual end? Waders and rowboats, waders and rowboats.

    And, of course, is there the seed for a story in all this?

  12. Default is not possible, servicing the debt is the FIRST thing done with tax receipts. 14th amendment. Also, power of the purse and legilation by funding bas been done for ages. None of this is new, or odd, or different. Clinton bargained, Bush 41 bargained, Obama has made the choice to not do so. And his office has made a point of spending money to close things like scenic views and open air monuments to make their point.

    So, yeah, I blame the people crying default as much as I blame the oh noes socialism crew. Both of them are trying to make political points with people’s jobs.

  13. @ Bearpaw:

    Also, the hurricane was probably another false flag operation, created by Obama’s weather machines. Which are run by the same people who fake the climate data.

    There’s a guy called Julian Penrod who trolls on SciAm and NPR.org who literally believes exactly that.

    He also thinks that electricity is actually secret tiny aliens in the wires, and that people who had power after Sandy were eeeevil “NWO supporters”, whatever the fuck the NWO is (National Weather something?).

  14. Rod Rubert assumes that the current Chairman of the Fed, She Secretary of the treasury, and the vast, overwhelming majority of economics experts are simply LYING. Here’s why:

    Yes, we take in more than “monthly debt service requirement “. But Rod skips (intentionally?) mentioning that debt servicing is not the only liability we have. Social security, medicare, and military costs are the bulk of our payments. We could keep servicing the debt if we welch on those things.

    Who’s up for that?

  15. Woodman:

    The Secretary of the Treasury disagrees with you regarding default, and you know what? I’m thinking that given the choice of following the opinion of some dude on the Internet or the opinion of the man actually responsible for servicing the US debt, I’m going to side with the latter. Allow me to suggest he has more information on the matter than you do.

    Other than that, as I am sure you’re aware, the right-side shibboleth that Obama (and the Democrats in general) has not opted to bargain is nonsense. When the GOP has made amply public that their strategy all along was to precipitate a crisis with the shutdown and debt limit as a way to force concessions from Obama on the ACA, up to and including backing away from a deal the GOP itself offered up (as confirmed by Boehner himself on Sunday morning talk shows), then trying to paint this as a bipartisan fuckup rings, shall we say, false. As Jon Stewart memorably put it the other night, don’t fart and then blame it on the dog.

  16. Woodman, the ACA is law. It was passed, ratified, and cleared by the Supreme Court. What is Obama supposed to negotiate over? Trying to defund it now without due process is sitting on the freeway and hoping that oncoming SUV has good brakes. At the very least, you will cause a multi-car pileup, beause your cause is just and your heart is true.

  17. We could service the debt and pay those things. Do the math, besides, legally we have to service the debt first, its in the constitution, its not an option.

    Don’t want this to happen again, all we have to do is remove some more checks and balances. Congress has already ceeded much of their power to various executive branch regulatory bodies anyway.

  18. @RodRubert:

    The US takes in about 10 times the monthly debt service requirement each month. Keeping the current debt limit would cap the amount of future wealth redistribution since the debt means we are not taxing ourselves enough to pay for give away programs but instead will tax people who can not even vote yet.

    Ah, yes… because what “the US takes in” is going to be totally unaffected by the government shutdown AND the US becoming the global equivalent of the deadbeat Dad who isn’t going to pay his child support because it’s not fair AND a federal legislature that most closely resembles a bucket of crazed weasels on meth.

    @Woodman:

    Default is not possible, servicing the debt is the FIRST thing done with tax receipts. 14th amendment.

    With all due respect, that reading of the 14th amendment is highly debatable, to put it mildly. But hey, I guess the Treasury Secretary is just “making political points” rather than doing his fraking job, by warning that as matters stand, no matter what House Republicans and Fox News say, the United States actually has to meet all of its obligations (even the ones the GOP/Tea Baggers/Randroids/corporate welfare queens don’t like) when they fall due.

    My gob is thoroughly smacked that the people who like to present themselves as the party of business and fiscal prudence think a country can behave like a spoiled trust fund baby with a wallet full of daddy’s (maxed out) credit cards.

  19. well, I have the fun of being directly affected. working in the alcohol industry, federal approvals are now at a halt, so if this continues for a protracted length of time it will affect our next season’s beers. for personal affect, we’re also in the process of selling/buying a home, which is impacted on both ends. our buyer is setting up for a USDA home loan, which is now on hold, and the short sale home we’re trying to purchase has IRS liens – kinda hard to negotiate them if they’re not available, now isn’t it!

    would we be directly affected if the ACA was not in affect? why, yes! our young 20ish sons would both be up a creek without insurance. both work, but don’t have any other access to healthcare except through us.

    the republican teaparty needs to take a long walk off a short pier…..

  20. Floored: “New World Order”, which is frequently a false flag pulled out when the Koch Machine wants to blame someone who disagrees with them.

  21. Actually, Cap’n Awesome, because of the way that the ACA was written, Congress (and their staffers) are the only people in the country *required* to leave their employer provided coverage and buy insurance through the exchanges. As far as previously having their own special deal, they previously simply were offered the same insurance options offered to every other Federal employee.

  22. cranapia: Ah, yes… because what “the US takes in” is going to be totally unaffected by the government shutdown AND the US becoming the global equivalent of the deadbeat Dad who isn’t going to pay his child support because it’s not fair AND a federal legislature that most closely resembles a bucket of crazed weasels on meth.

    We crazed weasels on meth are impervious to most insult, but that was pretty low. Have you no shame, sir?

  23. @JohnScalzi:

    I’m thinking that given the choice of following the opinion of some dude on the Internet or the opinion of the man actually responsible for servicing the US debt, I’m going to side with the latter. Allow me to suggest he has more information on the matter than you do.

    It’s also worth noting that if Senate Republicans thought Lew doesn’t know his arse from his elbow, a majority of them shouldn’t have voted to confirm him. Instead, it was an unusually smooth and rapid process when the default setting seems to be to oppose every Obama nominee on principle.

  24. One of the ways I’ve been personally affected is that my wife can no longer access her usual government databases in order to perform research required by her Masters program (MSW for those who need to know). Writing research papers is hard enough without having important research sources turned-off. (This is not only *only* way in which I’ve been personally affected, but it’s the one I’m going to post here.)

  25. If, as Woodman suggests, we have an obligation to pay debt holders first, how do we determine who we don’t pay?

    What counts as “debt” in this formulation? Only bonds? What about Social Security payments, which were earned through payments into the system with a promise to pay out? Veteran’s benefits, which were also promised as a part of service? What about federal pension payments? And Medicare, which is also predicated on the promise to pay?

    What about obligations that exist through the operation of law? The government is obligated to pay entitlements (like SNAP, WIC, TANF) until the law is changed. We’ve obligated ourselves to make these payments, but are they not debt because the promise to pay is only through the operation of law?

    What about payments to farmers through the Farm Bill? While I personally think that they are not productive, they have certainly been promised– do we stop paying them?

    Pretty sure that the ultimate place that argument goes is that the debt limit itself is unconstitutional as an abrogation of the United States’s ability to honor debts. And people who are a lot more knowledgable than I have said that is not correct.

  26. @ TheMadLibrarian: Ah, thank you. I really wish I hadn’t gone and looked up that whole can of worms (teh stoopid, it burns!), but what’s done is done.

  27. Woodman’s comment about servicing the debt first ignores the reality about how accounts are paid these days, not just from Treasury accounts but in big corporations as well.

    Tax receipts don’t come in all at once, to be depleted over the course of year. Short term borrowing to meet immediate obligations (such as payroll or SS disbursements) is done all the time. Long term borrowing is done as needed to fund upcoming payments.

    All payments are made at specified intervals. On occasion, such as quarter-end, receipts may be greater than payments, but any modern large-scale enterprise must do borrowing to ensure the smooth functioning of the system. The government can’t simply say, oh we’ll hold off on these payments to Lockheed or the monthly SS checks so we can pay the bondholders later in the month

    It was the possibility of freezing that short-term borrowing that led, in part, to the 2008 financial crisis.

    Eliminate borrowing and the danger isn’t just default – it’s jamming all the mechanisms of finance.

  28. @CrazedWeaselOnMeth:

    I’ve been bitten by a weasel (don’t ask), and on reflection it at least didn’t try to convince me it wasn’t really happening, and anyway tetanus shots and stitches are good for you. The not-so-little crapsack just decided it didn’t like the look of me, and was going to unleash hell. Therefore, I retract my vicious slur on the entire Mustelidae community, and apologise for any offense caused by my thoughtless and insensitive hate speech.

    @DC Spartan:

    And what happens if, eventually, Woodman’s reading of the 14th amendment ends up before the Supreme Court, and they end up substantively agreeing more with Secretary Lew than Rep. Boehner and Fox News? I think we’ve seen too much evidence of how quickly conservative judges become rabid liberal “judicial activists” when their rulings aren’t to the right’s liking. Just ask Vaughn Walker.

  29. We aren’t affected yet. But my husbands company has federal contracts. Not sure at what point they are next due to get paid by the government. I’m feeling fairly certain his company will withhold paying a portion of salaries while they wait to get paid.

    I do tend to put more faith in people trained in economics who have access to all the data than I do to misc people on the net as well as a number of elected officials who seem to have neglected to speak with said knowledgeable person.

  30. If only this WAS a hissy fit about true government-run single payer healthcare instead of whether or not people should have to give their money to private businesses!

    Aside from Jon Stewart’s commentary, yesterday’s “Daily Show” had a funny segment involving some Republican “strategist” (another woman with the crazy eyes, is that a job requirement?), Jason Jones, and an actual FBI hostage negotiator.

    Indeed, crazed weasels don’t have much in the way of malice aforethought, and they’re not doing the bidding of a small amount of moneyed interests against the good of all weasel-kind. Ferrets are even kinda cute in a tube sock with teeth way.

  31. I love you, cranapia.

    Mustelids–even wolverines, which regularly fight bears–can be quite cute, although they ARE universally tough, aggressive animals–like accipiter hawks, only sans wings. Mustelids, especially carnivorous forms such as weasels, ferrets (excepting black-footed ferrets for some reason–they tend to be fairly normal small mammals), stoats, and wolverines, are genetically predisposed towards extreme aggression, although this trait usually only surfaces when faces with predators, prey, or rivals–they won’t just attack random passers-by or hold governments hostage because they’re not self-confident about their balls.

    Other than that vague resemblance, they are light-years above Congress, because they are universally cute and all species in the family have redeeming social and ecological value–unlike the loathsome parasites known as “Congresscritters”, who might as well be Goa’uld invaders from the Stargate franchise.

  32. @ Floored …: “There’s a guy called Julian Penrod who trolls on SciAm and NPR.org who literally believes exactly that.”

    I am entirely unsurprised. I imagine that there’s a corollary to Poe’s Law that predicts it.

  33. Besides WIC and supportive services public schools are no longer getting reimbursed for the the Federal National Free Lunch Program that offers reduced priced or free lunches to millions of American children. This program provides 4.5 million meals to students a day in California alone.

    School districts throughout the country, already hit hard by the recession, will have to decide whether to continue the program and hope the Federal government reimburses them later or to postpone it for some students. Studies have shown that for some students the free meal provided my school is the only whole meal they’ll get all day…

    Sources:

    http://www.nokidhungry.org/pdfs/NKH_TeachersReport_2013.pdf

    http://www.nokidhungry.org/pdfs/NKH_TeachersReport_2013.pdf

  34. Just wanted to share this:

    “Please make this call and help put public servants back to work serving fellow Americans.

    A Discharge Petition will force the House to vote to reopen the government.

    We only have four days to do this.

    Call your Representative and pressure them to sign the Discharge Petition at 1-888-775-3148.

    Put it to a vote or shut up. That’s what Speaker Boehner has to do. House Speaker John Boehner insists that there aren’t enough votes to end the government lockout, when everyone else knows that there are.

    We’ve found a way around Speaker Boehner.

    This Saturday October 12th, your Representative has a chance to sign a Discharge Petition. When a Discharge Petition hits 218 signatures, the House can bypass Speaker Boehner and force an up or down vote to reopen the government.

    You only have 4 days left to call your Representatives at 1-888-775-3148. This is our chance to end the Government Lockout. But time is ticking fast. We need everyone calling their Representatives from tomorrow morning until Saturday. Whether your Representative is a Democrat or a Republican, pressure them to sign the Discharge Petition.

    The Discharge Petition is our current best shot at ending the lockout, getting back to work, and getting paid. In the past 30 years, 19 Discharge Petitions have been attempted. And it was worked every time. This is not a gimmick. This is called democracy. Thank you for all that you do.

    In solidarity,
    J. David Cox, Sr.
    President, AFGE”

  35. I don’t know about the legality of picking and choosing which bills Uncle Sugar will pay, but I do know that as a practical matter it’s impossible. Hundreds if not thousands of automated payment systems would have to be reprogrammed literally overnight. Not gonna happen. It might be possible to shut off ALL payments from a particular system–Social Security, say. Chew on that, teabaggers.

  36. Thanks, Ian, for the information. I’ll do it – and I’ll dragoon as many of my friends as I can into doing the same. This nonsense has to cease.

  37. christopher You really don’t want to know why some recipes must be approved by bureaucrats. As for beer labels? Hey, they gotta do something or they’ll get promoted to new job in a new city. (Please apply cynicism.)

  38. Wait, what? We are talking about the gov shutdown.
    How it kicks me in the nads is the girl down the street is sending her kids out to sell her dinner so that she’ll have money for gas to get to work.
    The kids may not be telling the truth, but wouldn’t surprise me if they are.

  39. The thing that really irritates me is all the trolls who are making comments to the effect that “All these government employees have been furloughed, and I haven’t seen a single negative effect, so we should fire them all”. In reality, almost nobody will be able to see any negative effect for a given furloughed (or out of office for any reason) employee for any company whatsoever, including the trolls, for the short time the government has been partially shut down. However, a month or two down the road, the conglomeration of furloughed employees will make a difference when services become unavailable, and things don’t get done or get postponed. Will I be able to see all of the effects of the partial shutdown, or the sequestration or the inevitable budget cuts in the next compromise? No, and I might not even most. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t negative effects, and some that are critical to people who depend on these services, or that there aren’t trickle-down effects like the shutdown of companies that primarily cater to government employees, like restaurants in towns with a large government employee/contractor presence.

    Every time I see the trolls making that comment, I want to chime in that they should be fired because I’ll never notice their lost job, but I know that even if they see my response, they’ll never get it, and they don’t care anyway.

  40. @Bruce: I’ve already seen in the news that there’s a salmonella outbreak in California, and the United States FDA claims that it doesn’t have the workers that it needs to do its job right. So there’s that.

    My comment:

    This is the point when we should stop considering the GOP the party of fiscal responsibility. The balance of this national debt first built up under George W. Bush. Since then GOP congresspeople have gotten the U.S.’s credit rating knocked down a step. And now they are threatening to crash the nation’s economy and the global economy.

    Would you trust someone who has crashed the last three cars he owned to drive YOUR car somewhere? Would it change your mind if this person claimed to be a “great driver”?

    For all their talk about being responsible with the country’s money, the current GOP sure aren’t showing us much.

    Forget about being “fiscally conservative.” If you favor being reasonable with the country’s finances, you should call yourself “fiscally liberal.”

  41. @Bruce:

    The thing that really irritates me is all the trolls who are making comments to the effect that “All these government employees have been furloughed, and I haven’t seen a single negative effect, so we should fire them all”.

    Instead, it might behoove these people to STFU and consider (as our host puts it) that may have something to do with their low difficulty setting in life. YMMV, but I wouldn’t wish an up close and personal acquaintance with the frontline activities of the CDC on even the most poisonous Tea Bagger, but I bet they might think twice if they were shitting their guts out with a good dose of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella.

    As of Sunday, the CDC’s PulseNet, which is responsible for tracking clusters of outbreaks, had only one staff member — down from eight — and a week ago, one CDC official told Wired, “I know that we will not be conducting multi-state outbreak investigations. States may continue to find outbreaks, but we won’t be doing the cross-state consultation and laboratory work to link outbreaks that might cross state borders.” The outbreak is linked to three production sites owned by the firm Foster Farms, and has affected 18 states across the country, including California, Colorado, Florida, and Connecticut.

    But as the severity of the outbreak emerged, 30 furloughed workers, including the other seven PulseNet employees, had to be called back to work. The outbreak has already caused 278 people to fall ill, 42 percent of whom were hospitalized — an unusually high number. It was also discovered that some of the seven strains of Salmonella involved in the outbreak were antibiotic resistant.

    “That’s a high percentage,” Barbara Reynolds, a CDC spokeswoman, told USA Today. “You would expect about 20 percent hospitalizations with Salmonella Heidelberg.” Salmonella was identified by the CDC as a serious threat to antibiotic resistance last month. Because of this resistance, the frontline antibiotics that a spokeswoman for Foster Farms said would work — including ampicillin, chloramphenicol, and tetracycline — aren’t working.

    Of these patients, 13 percent are suffering from Salmonella septicemia, a life-threatening full-body inflammation, Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told USA Today. “This outbreak shows that it is a terrible time for government public health officials to be locked out of their offices and labs, and for government websites to go dark,” she said. Those government employees still furloughed don’t have access to their offices, labs, or emails, and risk termination should they even attempt to access them voluntarily.

    Source: http://www.medicaldaily.com/salmonella-outbreak-forces-cdc-call-workers-despite-government-shutdown-259430

    Really think carefully about that, and if the first thing to cross your mind is that the CDC shoud be closed down try again, and try harder.

  42. I can’t tell you how many comments I’ve seen on news articles about the salmonella outbreak blaming it fully on people not cooking their food properly. So it’s not the FDA or the CDCs fault it’s the average American for not doing proper kitchen cleaning & cooking. I’m not sure when you were taught that in school I know I wasn’t. I graduated in 1985 is home economics better today and everyone takes it?

    I’ve learned it because of my middle class white privilege from the free time, the net, combined with kosher laws that make it easy to keep my vegetable prep seperate from my meat prep.

    Not sure when someone works two jobs is supposed to have learned it. Or how their kids are supposed to know and do the proper kitchen prep when the parent(s) are out working.

    So there you have it folks no need for the CDC to be tracking this stuff because it’s your fault if you get it. /rant off

  43. Why the everloving fuck is it the business of some bureaucrat to “approve” beer labels!?

    Because a hundred years ago when we trusted manufacturers to label things we consume honestly and accurately, and trusted the market to correct all resulting problems, it didn’t work out so well.

  44. Why the everloving fuck is it the business of some bureaucrat to “approve” beer labels!?

    Because back in the 19th century, people would put claims on their beverages (like “Cures disease”!) that had no basis in reality, and so consumers would drink them, and then not go to the doctor. Result: not good.

  45. re. Bruce’s comment:
    “The thing that really irritates me is all the trolls who are making comments to the effect that “All these government employees have been furloughed, and I haven’t seen a single negative effect, so we should fire them all”.

    yes they are trolls – often of a particularly Privileged Randian scumbag type. Their families don’t need food stamps, head start, etc. (Why pay taxes for the fire dept when your house isn’t the one on fire?) elitist (waah, my privileged kids can’t go to the Lincoln Memorial for their 8th grade field trip, while other kids at the same school can’t afford to go, or eat 3 squares a day) Often ignorant hypocrites (keep the gov’t out of my medicare)

    Winter isn’t here yet – we aren’t hearing about people choosing between heat and food
    Winter is coming – and it’s going to get very ugly, very fast

  46. I notice you didn’t mention a secondary impact which could hit you hard if things carry on for a while. People who can no longer go to work because of the shutdown haven’t got any money coming in and people who normally rely on benefits aren’t getting them. If they’re worrying about how they’re going to buy food, what are the chances of them going out and buying a new book? If the shutdown carries on for long, you’ll see your sales figures hit. Everyone else who produces, supplies or sells something “non-essential” will see the same hit. So they’ll start worrying about money and stop buying things “non-essential.” People will be fired, businesses will shut down and more and more people will feel it.

    The longer the shutdown continues, the bigger the ripples will become.

    I’m sitting on the outside of this in the UK. In theory, it shouldn’t impact me. But I work for an American company and I write books that are on sale in the US as well as Europe. I’m keeping an eye on your situation waiting for the ripples to start being visible over here.

  47. I live in the DC area and I am a government IT contractor (and no Im not involved in the obamacare website fiasco) , but I’m unaffected. We have outlays through the end of November. Contractors are furloughed without pay and at the company I work are required to pay 100% of their medical insurance. I know many of you don’t have medical insurance, but one of the benefits of working for a bigger company is that they pay part of your medical insurance. They will pay you vacation time and deduct your medical insurance from it. If you are out of vacation, you are required to write them a check for the insurance (implying if you don’t you don’t come back).

    Personally Im not that concerned since Im well along in my career and to be honest, replacing positions is relatively easy (Im a career job hopper), but I know people affected by it.

    One thing I’d like to note. The husband of a woman I work with works at the Navy Yard (where the shooting was) and he is working 12+ hour days. He does this alot and now he has to do it with a high likelihood of delayed payment. There are alot of government employees work alot of hours. To be fair, there are alot who don’t do much of anything and are useless, but that isn’t the majority. To be fair it is annoying when you see government guys who everyone knows are useless and they can never be fired, but it doesn’t mean most of them are like that.

    I am a bit waffly on the government. I do see alot of people work hard. I do see alot of people work hard, but the huge organization and public nature of what they do often leads to a lot of waste. I don’t think there is an easy solution. I don’t see privatizing more stuff as saving money. I have seen first hand how contracting companies mine the government for profits. I have had managers reduce my productivity because that way they make more money (more bodies = more money), so privatizing things definitely won’t make it better.

    the idea of hiring contractors on as employees is a bad idea for IT. Software development is staff up and then staff done. Its a hire/fire industry. So if I work for a large company that has contracts across many agency, I have a high likelihood of rolling to a new project at a completely different agency. If I work for a government agency, you can’t just move someone to a new agency, its not that simple. Also, its too hard to fire people who work for the government and IT tends to be a high termination business(many times for good reasons). I personally could not put up with people who can’t do anything and then can’t be fired. The down side to this is that contracting means you pay me, and then you pay the contracting company (we call them pimps) a profit margin so they can pay their executives. There is room to squeeze these profits. Personally I prefer it when the company I work for makes nothing off of me since every dime they make off of me increases the national debt and increases what I owe.

    God this post is a big waffly mess isn’t it? Yeah this is poorly written. Sorry.

  48. As others have pointed out, the effects are rolling and cumulative….

    My employer’s a federal contractor and the main employer in town. A friend of mine’s a civil servant and was furloughed last Monday. Most of my employer’s subcontractors went out this Monday. I go on furlough next Friday. Because of the way the local government is funded, once Main Employer stops spending, the local government gets less cash…so my partner, who works for them, has been warned of possible furlough in indefinite future. Local restaurants are planning to cut hours.

    I think the term is “trickle-down economics” ;)

  49. @Tasha: The typical salmanella poisoning you’re referring to is generally not the type of outbreak the CDC is investigating. The CDC typically investigates cases where the source is unexpected, unidentified, and often turns out to be something where the product vector is not normally cooked, like produce: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19580447 .

  50. I’m technically a state employee, but my position is funded by a federal grant. The primary tool I use to do my primary job is currently shutdown. In the first part of this week, I participated in a workshop sponsored by and partly hosted by a federal agency that wasn’t allowed to attend, which definitely weakened what we could’ve done in it because we didn’t get the key opening speech that explained why we were all there.

    Other than that: nothing major has impacted me directly so far. If this goes on for much longer though, I’m going to run out of tasks I can do that don’t involve the shutdown online tool, and then start wondering if I’m going to continue getting paid.

  51. I work for a major cancer center and we’re seeing a LARGE impact. New research studies can’t open if they are getting any part of their funding through either NIH or Cooperative Groups — as these agencies are all under furlough. The pending default has had private donors slamming their wallets shut, and failing to follow through on pledges because of the fiscal insecurity, meaning that NON-NIH means of funding cancer research are also going belly-up. It is hard to get authorization to treat our Medicaid and Medicare patients, and only issues considered “potentially emergent with high transmission probability” are being dealt with by the CDC. Too, the shipment of flu vaccine, which is critical to immunizing our staff so that they don’t infect our immunocompromised patient population, have slowed to a trickle.

  52. @guess: I’m not sure what your point is, except maybe that there are people who are government employees and are incompetent and should be fired but aren’t, and that somehow temporary employees are mostly better for government IT projects except that it usually means that there’s a bunch of money skimmed off the top by government contracting companies. I don’t disagree that there are some people in government who are worthless but I think the effective ratio of permanent vs contract employees is debatable and both themes missed the point. The partial shutdown, sequester and the concessions that are likely to happen in the next month or two do have long term effects that might not be obvious to you or me now, but that does not mean there are no or minimal consequences as claimed by the Tea Party, their Republican standard bearers and Fox News.

  53. Part of the cognitive disjunction is because not enough has been shut down. Why are the federal highways still open? Why are airlines still getting ATC? Why wasn’t the entire military laid off – and the NSA, FBI, CIA, NRO, CDC, etc etc. CLose down medicare, pensions, all of it. *Then* maybe even some of the teahadhists will realise just how much they depend on working government. Sure as hell the rich will scream as they find their wealth flow slowed by lack of business activity.

  54. John, you said Congress has said the federal workers, at least, will get paid for all the time they’re furloughed,” Actually, the bill has not passed the Senate yet, because certain asshats will not let it be voted on.

  55. This question has been nagging at me for the past few days – if the Treasury can’t sell anymore T-bills, what does the SSA do about placing funds in the SS trusts? Does this mean they have to stop collecting SSI from paychecks? If so, what impact will that have on each and every employer’s payroll operations?

    (The two Social Security trust funds take in the “excess” funds, the collections that exceed current payments, and buys T-bills. It does NOT use any bank savings accounts, as it is required by law to only use securities backed by “the full faith and credit” of the US government.)

    I don’t know enough about this to predict what will happen, only enough to wonder if our elected representatives have thought this far ahead.

  56. Cricket, I’m pretty sure the received FICA contributions will just be deposited in a regular account. The trust fund is a different matter than the operating accounts.

  57. Why the everloving fuck is it the business of some bureaucrat to “approve” beer labels!?

    Because a hundred years ago when we trusted manufacturers to label things we consume honestly and accurately, and trusted the market to correct all resulting problems, it didn’t work out so well.

    And right here and now, my partner loves marmalade, but not so much the stuff that’s full of grapefruit that doesn’t play well with one of his blood pressure meds. Complete and accurate food labeling isn’t politically correctness gone mad, or right-wing torture porn where Big Government does horrible things to Business before throwing its dismembered corpse into a ditch. It really can save lives.

  58. I have a civil service pension and I’m worried that if those bozos in Congress don’t fix this, I’m not going to be able to pay my rent, utilities or buy food and my meds next month.

  59. Just wanted to add to “how the shutdown affects me” pile. This isn’t just federal employees, my non-profit was in the middle of getting financial issues sorted out and approved by the IRS. Issues that are key to our funding and operation. So, since nothing can be done – we’re on a spending freeze for the who knows how long. I had to justify to my boss’s boss that I have to have my POSTAGE approved for the rest of the year. Office supplies? No. Our daycare refrigerator breaks? Nada. So, when people say why do we need government? Charities can do it all – SHUT IT. If they don’t function, we don’t function.

  60. @cookingwithdogs:

    I don’t have words for how much that sucks, but many many rude gestures. Perhaps your nearest House Republican has a guest bedroom for you, after all they’re still getting paid (with full benefits) so heat, light, running water, three squares and picking up your meds should be no problem!

  61. How the shut down effects me at this moment.
    I’m possessed of a describable emotion. Seems that the existence of hired people who can threaten people with arrest is against some spending law.
    But I’m not a father raper or politician or lawyer, and also know nothing about how the park service can hire thugs.

  62. @Shawn – We need park rangers to secure our national parks because people can and will go there and wreck the place and we don’t have enough to actually patrol and maintain the area, so they have to go with the minimal amounts to keep people out.

    Similar to the national monuments canard – we don’t have the people to maintain and clean and thus have to go with the minimal security to ensure people don’t wreck the joint. And as much as I respect veterans, the outrage over veterans losing a visit to a monument being in any way comparable to people getting furloughed and not being able to pay their rent/mortgages, buy food for their families and actually dying in the case of disease outbreaks and disaster preparedness makes me livid.

  63. It’s also worth pointing out that the veterans themselves aren’t really all that upset with the park service. The national leader of the Honor Flight program issued a statement thanking the National Park service for doing everything they could to support the flights, and asking congressmen to stop showing up and getting in the way, particularly when the flight wasn’t from their state.

  64. I work for a state that had a recent shutdown and I know how it feels to be unsure of when, or if, your job will come back because a bunch of politicians think its cute to flail around and not care who they are punching. The thing that frustrates me is that we keep forgetting that there are human beings out there who don’t have jobs because of this. Invite your favorite federal employee or contractor who isn’t sure when or if they’ll be able to pay rent out and offer to pay for dinner. Or better yet, bring a bottle of wine and a movie and just hang out and don’t whine about how you aren’t going to get to drink the winter ale to them when they don’t know if they’ll get anything.
    The impact of this will be huge. This isn’t a vacation or a joke or a toy.

  65. I give up on our government. I’m going to go pray to the FSM for salvation.

    Or possibly to Cthulhu. I don’t really care at this point. Anything but that christian Sky Daddy–he’s a useless bigot.

    Of course, the FSM is probably too peaceful to smite Congress–but maybe it will shoot some lightning at Ted Cruz and/or the Texas State Board of Eddycat’in and/or Eric Cantor. Anything helps at this point.

    It’s also worth pointing out that the veterans themselves aren’t really all that upset with the park service. The national leader of the Honor Flight program issued a statement thanking the National Park service for doing everything they could to support the flights, and asking congressmen to stop showing up and getting in the way, particularly when the flight wasn’t from their state.

    Well, at least the Congresscritters’ antics are backfiring on them. A little.

    Finally, how I wish this was real:

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/congressional-aides-withholding-sex-until-budget-c,34151/

    “Lysistrata”-style. You know, given the comedy of the situation, that might actually work…

  66. Jon Niehof 10:17 am
    >I think the term is “trickle-down economics” ;)
    Yes. ;-) I’ve heard that newer diaper types are better at preventing trickle down.*
    – –
    Tim Rowledge 1:53 pm

    Part of the cognitive [dissonance is so little is shutdown]. Why are the federal highways still open? Why are airlines….
    /”
    (17% of spending IIRC.)
    It’s that “essential” stuff thing. And yes, I’d have harsh words for what “essential” means under the law, but really, who has time to swear about each thing that the congress has done that really needs some harsh words?

    – –
    Robby Peterson 7:25 am

    @Shawn – We need park rangers to secure our national parks because people can and will go there and wreck the place and we don’t have enough to actually patrol and maintain the area, so they have to go with the minimal amounts to keep people out.
    /”
    Understood, but they aren’t doing, according to the popular press, /just/ that.
    – –
    cookingwithdogs 3:21 pm

    I have a civil service pension and I’m worried….
    /”
    I’m pretty sure that you’ve no need to worry because that’s a pension, and your pension fund is already funded. Is no _new_ funding.

    SDT, Ohio, USA
    * So, I was, like about eleven. A relative was changing a baby boy’s diaper and put one over his crotch, teaching me. I figured: Ehh, she’s sensitive about looking at her baby’s boy parts. Later, when I was changing him I learned that I was wrong. Trickle down my face ignorant.
    Those new fangled paper towels that are as strong as cloth are wonderful.

  67. Shawn quoting me –
    {Tim Rowledge 1:53 pm

    Part of the cognitive [dissonance is so little is shutdown]. Why are the federal highways still open? Why are airlines….
    /”
    (17% of spending IIRC.)
    It’s that “essential” stuff thing. And yes, I’d have harsh words for what “essential” means under the law, but really, who has time to swear about each thing that the congress has done that really needs some harsh words?}

    My intended point was that the whole thing should be shut down so that it hurts the bastards that are behind all this insanity. The % of spending isn’t the issue. Close down the ports for import, shut down the interstates and air travel; lots of losses for big business and their fat cat owners. Instead you get a remarkably well targeted set of shutdowns that leave rich people alone. Funny, that.

  68. Tim: Understood, and I maybe 3.14159% agree, and 99.44% disagree, just to pull numbers out of my compromised pseudo random number generator.
    Yeah, but:
    If they tried to shut down the federal highways they’d get run over by a trucker, a socker mom and just shot by everybody who doesn’t have a vehicle that is big enough to not take damage.
    I want to say more, but every time I try it spoils my metaphor.

  69. Oh, about your intended point. I have a savings account that holds slightly more than 600 bucks, four pounds of pinto beans, six pounds of rice. And when the world ends I have enough butane for my camp stove to cook half of that.
    Did you know that for a mere 12,000 bucks plus yearly servicing I could get a nat gas genie that would allow me to cook with my electric stove?
    The “bastards that are behind all this insanity” would be inconvenienced by the maid and others having trouble getting to work.

Comments are closed.