Lessons from the Shutdown


What lessons can we average, non-federal employees gain from the government shutdown and the furlough of federal workers?

  1. Every powerful weapon, once used, causes some damage to the user as well as the direct victims. Perhaps it is worth the cost, perhaps not. Harry Truman would certainly have understood that weapon, even if that understanding did not change his mind about using the atomic bomb.
  2. The government does more useful things than most of us could have named before the furlough.
  3. Members of the Coast Guard are in military service but, even though it has a role in defense, the Coast Guard is for some bizarre reason under the Department of Homeland Security.
  4. Someone has to stand up to a bully. A grandmother, maybe. Eventually someone does.
  5. Empathy is a powerful tool (for federal workers who couldn’t pay the mortgage or had to go to food banks), but inconveniencing the rich and powerful with flight delays and cancelled flights is much more effective.

Are at least some of those lessons enough to remove a shutdown from the arsenal of political weapons available to Congress and the President?  Time will tell.  Maybe very soon.


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