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Are all the Yanks dead yet?

US government begins shutdown after Congress debates end in stalemate

Far-called our navies melt away—
On dune and headland sinks the fire—
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

With the watchmen gone from their posts, there can be very little chance that any of our American readers can have survived the plagues, the zombies, the rampaging NRA members and lack of a panda-cam. Theirs has been the fate of Belgium.

Mourn. Survive. But can our doom be far behind, now that they have said they will scrap the Human Rights Act?

44 comments to Are all the Yanks dead yet?

  • Paul Marks

    The American Federal government has not really shut down – most of it continues, so no getting rid of this layer of government (State and local government would still carry on if the Federal government really did shut down).

    Most of the UNCONSTITUTONAL (whatever those government appointed degenerates on the Supreme Court say) bloating of the Federal government will carry on – undisturbed. After all the Constitution was effectively turned into toilet paper as long ago as 1935 – when the Supreme Court ruled that the Federal government could steal privately owned gold and rip up private contracts. The Supreme Court does not want to be “political” you see – forgetting that the Constitution of the United States is a political document which reflects a particular political philosophy.

    With one more appointment of a “Justice” on the Supreme Court it will turn from useless(which it is now) to actively evil – a return to the Court of the post World War II decades, which (for example) got rid of the county representation in State Senates (declaring that both houses of State legislatures should reflect population – thus destroying the point of having State Senates) and (in 1982) forced Texas and other States to give “free” education (and so on) to illegal immigrants (even if the immigrants were legal what services, if any, State and local governments provide for people is NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SUPREME COURT – but if five “justices” say it is…..).

    This is theatre – where a few things get shut down (such as popular tourist sites) and the media blame the Republicans.

    And not just the American media – the international media also. For example, the British Times newspaper (in spite of being owned by Rupert Murdoch) called an effort by the democratically elected House of Representatives to delay elements of Obamacare and repeal the medical devices tax (oh yes Obamacare TAXES THE SICK and MAKES MEDICAL CARE MORE EXPENSIVE – the media just has not reported such things) – well how did the Times of London report this?

    The democratically elected House trying to repeal a tax and spend scheme is …… “This is partisan politics beyond the conventions of a constitutional democracy”.

    This is a FABIAN view of democracy – the government must only EXPAND never CONTRACT.

    And the American media are also busy brainwashing the population (as they will over the debt limit – no surprise that the Times of London supports borrowing more money as a “essential mechanism of fiscal management”, I thought that borrowing more money was borrowing more money – silly me).

    “But Paul you believe in agency (free will) how can you just assume the media will succeed in brainwashing most people?”

    Human BEINGS do exist – but we are not immortal Gods. But a couple of high calibre bullets in the brain of a human and they will not be a being anymore (they will be dead or hopelessly brain damaged).

    And people are vulnerable to conditioning (brain washing) also – especially if they DO NOT KNOW IT IS BEING DONE TO THEM (hard to fight back when you do not know you are under attack).

    That is why the “education system” (the schools and universities) and the “mainstream” media are so important.

    Still it is an empirical matter – I may be mistaken (wrong).

    We shall see in the election for Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia in November.

    If the Republican candidate is successful I was wrong about the effectiveness of media conditioning over “the Republicans shut down the government”.

  • I was living in Connecticut last time they had a shutdown (Nov 1995 – Jan 1996) and I must say that it is all just political theatre.

    The majority of the federal government continues to operate and it is only the non-essential services like national parks, passport and DMV offices and other front-line regulatory agencies which are affected (i.e. those the general public interacts with but doesn’t bring significant risk)

    In fact the people who seem to suffer most from this are the residents of the governments own fiefdom and bailiwick Washington DC due to “the unique way it is funded”.

    Oh dear, how sad, never mind.

  • llamas

    The only negative aspect to the ‘shutdown’ charade is that it will end.

    And a few weeks later, in some quiet evening in the Congress, legislation will be passed to give the furloughed Federal workers full back pay for the work days missed, thus completing the cycle of corruption – Federal workers will be paid for doing no work. And this will presented as ‘fairness’.

    The Republican leadership will fold, as it always does, and pass some milquetoast ‘compromise’ which gives the President and the Democrats everything they want, but provides the Republicans with some meaningless legislative fig-leaf behind which they can hide. ‘But we set up a bi-partisan commission to study the matter!’

    And, of course, the morning’s news is just a stream of stories about how planes will crash, trains will wreck, we will all die of food-poisoning and Big Bad Eeeevil Corporations are even now prying the lids off the drums of cyanide to pour into our drinking water.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Mr Ecks

    If I had a pound for everytime Camoron and his gang have threatened to scrap the HRA I would be wealthy. If I had a pound for every broken BluLabour promise I could afford to bail out O’dumbo care–not that I would.

  • The only negative aspect to the ‘shutdown’ charade is that it will end.

    Not only that, but unlike the situation in Belgium the US still has a government pissing money up a wall like its going out of fashion.

    Going on past shutdowns it will be resolved within about 7-10 days. The longest shutdown of 21-days occurred over Christmas 1995/New Year 1996, so was probably unrepresentative of what will happen this time around.

    Llamas’ view that it will result in a toothless compromise is likely to be the correct one.

  • Mr Ed

    I’m still in shock over all those who died in the air disasters when Reagan sacked the air traffic controllers. Or was that all a bad dream?

  • Laird

    Thanks for the concern, Natalie, but we’re managing to hang on here (so far). We all have stockpiled at least 6 months of food, and of course we’re all well armed so the looting has been held to a minimum. We should be fine until the fuel for our emergency generators runs out.

    Seriously, I think that llamas has it about right. This is all theater, orchestrated by the Democrats who think it will redound to their political advantage. We’ll see. Most Congressional seats are so gerrymandered that the incumbents are safe no matter what. And to the extent there is blame here it should be assigned to the Democrats; Obama refuses to concede an inch (“I shouldn’t have to offer anything”) and Harry Reid won’t even appoint senators to negotiate with the House. Such arrogance cries out for karmic justice. This isn’t 1995, and Obama isn’t Bill Clinton.

    Despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth in the media, there is a large plurality in this country (although probably not a majority) of people who are loudly saying “shut it down”. Read the comments section of any article about the “shutdown” (except, perhaps, in the New York Times) for confirmation of that. This will be interesting.

  • RRS

    What “debate?”

  • the other rob

    I’m not dead yet, nor are the cats.

    As others have said, it’s theater. Though, apparently, passports will continue to be issued and passport offices will remain open. Presumably suspending passport operations would not inconvenience a sufficiently large segment of the electorate to make it worth while.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    If they can do without them for a week or a month, surely they can do without them forever? It suggests to me that if the functions of the DMV, the FDA and the ATF really are so unimportant that they can be put on hold, perhaps they should just be abolished altogether?

    As for the cultural functions that are meant to serve the public good, even if you accept that having Yellowstone National Park continue to be Yellowstone National Park is desirable, that does not require that the taxpayer be compelled to fund it.

    All you’d need to do for that sort of thing would be to sell it as a going concern, with a contractual obligation to keep running it as a park and not to dig it up / build on it. Revenues from admission would still make it attractive. Or you could adopt the Victorian approach of a subscription based funding model. Many things back then were free at the point of use but funded through voluntary subscription.

  • John

    @ John Galt:

    and DMV offices

    Actually those are State, I wouldn’t expect any problem there.

    I’ve been following the thing on the BBC website which gives an interesting kind of inside out view. At times they seem to almost understand what is going on, at others, clearly not. I’d suspect them of advancing an agenda, but it isn’t consistent or coherent enough for that (unlike say NPR).

    They (BBC) have tried in a few places to compare the British and American systems in this instance, but I think the paradigms are different enough to cause major gaps.

    What *would* happen in the British system if the House of Lords and the Prime Minister flatly refused (can they? those assumptions sneak in!) to approve a spending measure from the House of Commons unless it contained expenditures they considered non-negotiable? Has this ever happened?

    Paul Marks’ point above about state and local governments is absolutely true. I think trans-Atlantic communication is frequently impaired by such misapprehensions on both sides. I’m tempted to say the US is more like the EU than, say the UK, but I know very well that analogy is also flawed. It is very difficult to compare the two. Maybe someone who has dual citizenship or a parent from each place could shed some light.

    I don’t think either side in Washington cares much for the constitution anymore, but here is one thing it says:

    All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

    Since what little constitutional legitimacy the thing has rests on the slender reed and tortured logic of Roberts’ claim that the whole thing is just a tax it seems to me primary responsibility rests with the house. I think there is a case that the Senate and the President can oppose it as with other bills, but the assertions I’m hearing in the news here that the House has somehow gotten involved merely as obstruction and on some kind of thin technical point doesn’t seem to hold up.

    Actually, I think the system is acting as designed, and has “failed safe”. Or at least tried to do so… then comes the theatre aspect.

  • Mr Ed

    @ John

    What *would* happen in the British system if the House of Lords and the Prime Minister flatly refused (can they? those assumptions sneak in!) to approve a spending measure from the House of Commons unless it contained expenditures they considered non-negotiable?

    OTTOMH John, the House of Lords may not consider (never mind delay or veto) ‘money bills’ under, I think, the Parliament Act 1911, that is any Bill that deals with taxation or spending, a ‘money bill’ and the Speaker of the House of Commons conclusively certifies what is and is not a money bill.

    I believe, and I may be wrong, that under the rules of the House of Commons, a money bill may only originate from the Leader of the House (a Cabinet Minister) or Chancellor (i.e. under the Prime Minister’s authority), so in practice no taxation or spending proposals start off in the House of Commons without the Prime Minister’s implicit approval, and when they leave, they don’t go near the House of Lords (although they did prior to 1911), but go straight for the formality of Royal Assent to become statute.

  • I seem to vaguely recall that that if the supply bill (one that concerns the spending of money) is rejected by the House of Commons it automatically triggers the fall of the government.

    Loss of Supply

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Slightly OT, but it always amuses me that Kipling has this Blimp-ish reputation amongst the lumpen-intelligentsia when he was really hag-ridden with the moral responsibility of Empire, and hardly prejudiced at all (except about the Irish).

  • llamas

    @PersonFromPorlock – I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think that the tendency among the lumpen-intelligensia to dismiss Kipling as the Blimpish and irrelevant chronicler of a racist Raj is quite deliberate.

    He must be discarded as illegitimate and faintly ludicrous precisely because so much of his writing is packed with hard-earned experience, common sense and liberal/libertarian ideas. If his writings (heaven forbid) were to become popular again, a whole lot of people might start having thoughts of which the intelligentsia would definitely not approve.

    Few now remember the wide range of his writings, his extensive travels, including a 4-year sojourn in Vermont where much of his finest prose was written, his in-depth study and writings on naval and military matters, his Nobel Prize for Literature, his time as Rector of St Andrews, and the list goes on. He was truly a giant in multiple fields – but all you ever hear now is ‘The White Man’s Burden’ and vapid dismissals of all his work as ‘racist’ and ‘imperialist’ – the ultimate damnations of the luvvies.

    Kiplig is one of only three writers whose ‘complete works’ I have on my Kindle. If more people read his works today, we might have a few less stupid people around.

    llater,

    llamas

  • RRS

    Tell ya what I’m reminded of:

    A bunch of dogs barking at one another with no intention to actually get out and take on one another because they might get bitten (the holes in their several positions would be exposed).

  • a_random_guy

    What if the government “shut down” and nobody noticed?

    “The only negative aspect to the ‘shutdown’ charade is that it will end.”

    Indeed. If this shutdown could become permanent, perhaps we could then get another shutdown, and get rid of another 16% of the federal workforce. And another, and another…

  • Indeed. If this shutdown could become permanent, perhaps we could then get another shutdown, and get rid of another 16% of the federal workforce. And another, and another…

    What particular part of this theatre of the absurd is unclear to you?

  • Regional

    John,
    ‘What particular part of this theatre of the absurd is unclear to you?’ None of it, they’re all effwits who keep running up debt.

  • @Regional:

    you are being too simplistic, off course all governments piss money up the wall, but have you ever thought there might be more to the US who piss money higher and further than anyone else?

  • Eric

    The majority of the federal government continues to operate and it is only the non-essential services like national parks, passport and DMV offices and other front-line regulatory agencies which are affected (i.e. those the general public interacts with but doesn’t bring significant risk)

    If you’re not living in DC it’s going to be kind of hard to tell. It’s basically shutdown theater. The real shutdown comes sometime around the 15th if they don’t raise the debt ceiling. But they will.

  • It’s basically shutdown theater. The real shutdown comes sometime around the 15th

    Never happen, the “shutdown” theatre will be closed on either 6th Oct or 13th in time for a Monday opening.

    Betcha!

  • bobby b

    Don’t know if this report will get through – the power grid is failing, internet technicians throughout the country are being deported as their work visas expire, and my federal-law-mandated ergonomic keyboard is dissolving even as I type – but I’ll send it anyway, because this news must get out.

    With the total collapse of the United States of America now entering its seventeenth hour, the situation is grim. Here in Minnesota, with our frigid winter approaching, we are unable to procure supplies of heating oil and natural gas until interstate transport of these commodities resumes. Tanker trucks remain backed up for miles at our southern border awaiting the printing of additional Federal Hazardous Waste Transport Authorization forms.

    Across the state, worried citizens are being confronted with grocers’ foodstocks which have received no federal inspection stamp. With hungry children waiting anxiously at home, hoping against hope that Today Will Bring Food, bewildered parents are facing for the first time in their generation the choice between saving their childrens’ lives, or obeying federal law. Across the Plains states, children are perishing in droves.

    All throughout the states, ongoing and viable Alternative Sustainable Energy businesses – businesses that employ tens of people – are closing their doors and turning off their lights, no longer able to sell solar panels and windmills without the federal checks that buttress the consumers’ heavily-subsidized prices. The 12,715-year payback period for solar panels which consumers will now experience in the absence of government purchase-price subsidization has crushed this entire economic sector – the fastest-growing sector of our economy for the last seven years – leaving entire barrooms filled to capacity every evening with old Obama donation bundlers commiserating about the end of the good times and trying to sell each other their $30,000,000 coastal homes.

    . . .

    As I type this, the air in our underground shelter is becoming more foul and depleted. Frantic calls to the EPA for advice and support go unanswered – the phones just ring and ring. My wife says, open the damned windows, you big idiot, but I dare not, at least without proper approval. She would seemingly expose our lovely children to hazards unknown, without even bothering to check with The Authorities. Bitch.

    As you can see, the walls of our suburban basement seem to be closing in on us, making us all edgy and tense and hostile. Our new Hobbesian existence strains the bonds of our shared civility, and I do believe that another day in this hell will find us treating people of differing genders and races in unequal ways, refusing to share our wealth with those among us who are too uneducated to understand that bar-hopping 24/7 will not generate wealth for themselves, and drinking unhomogenized milk.

    If you read this report – if the internet remains functional for a few more hours – please – Send Warm Clothes.

  • Regional

    John Galt,
    Tony Blair and El Gordo could give them a good run with debt and too simplistic you say, they’re overconfident narcissists and shallow opportunists who pursue power at any cost.

  • the other rob

    Very well played, bobby b!

  • Roy Lofquist

    For Kipling fans:

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    Here in the Philadelphia area things remain quiet. I’ve not heard of any instances of my neighbours eating one another. However, the hot water in my apartment building has stopped working, which must be due to the federal government shutdown.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    On the positive side, the hardy survivors can emerge to a cleaner world, without the unfit hangers-on to corrupt a purified USA! You can start afresh! How about a New Constitution, when you find other survivors? Or will the default mode kick in, and all the states go back to being British Dominions?

  • Rich Rostrom

    llamas @ October 1, 2013 at 9:49 am:
    And a few weeks later, in some quiet evening in the Congress, legislation will be passed to give the furloughed Federal workers full back pay for the work days missed…

    I’m not sure about that. I have friends who work for the EPA, and they had some money problems due to the sequester. (AIUI, and we didn’t really discuss it, they had to take some unpaid time off – and they weren’t expecting to have the missing paychecks made up.)

    The “shutdown” may work differently.

  • Very retired

    Bobby b for the win. Nicely done.

  • Julie near Chicago

    All I can say is, bobby b has it right. Gripping, though grim, on-the-spot reportage, bobby!

    We are in dire, dire straits indeed. What we here in northern Illinois need even more than warm clothes is containershipsful of brickbats. Preferably a large lot delivered at once — could you folks Across the Sea possibly lay on an airlift for us? We need them so as to deliver a few juicy ones right on the noodle to any government-looking type who seems to be interested in unshuttingdown. Or indeed dares to pass within the sight of a Loyal Citizen at all.

  • This is just getting petty now, they’ve taken the NASA webite down.

    Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available.
    We sincerely regret this inconvenience.

    Utterly childish and petulant!

  • John K

    I saw on the news that Michelle Obama’s twitter feed has gone offline because of the sequester. Can someone remind me how much it costs to post on twitter? Maybe the problem is that Michelle’s twitter butler isn’t being paid, that must be it.

  • […] are also grim here in Arkham, Massachusetts but as Samizdata commenter Bobby B has managed to get this message out to the world, I had to share it with […]

  • the other rob

    The theater seems to be becoming increasingly ham handed.

  • Richard Thomas

    Tho Other Rob: There’s some irony there.

  • Eric

    I saw on the news that Michelle Obama’s twitter feed has gone offline because of the sequester. Can someone remind me how much it costs to post on twitter?

    She doesn’t have a job – what the hell difference does it make to her whether or not there’s a government “shutdown”?

    Of course, the reality is the president’s wife has a larger staff than the vice president did during WW II, chiefly, it seems, to berate the rest of us over our diets. There’s no twitter feed because Mrs. Obama doesn’t actually compose those tweets anyway, though I’d bet my last dollar there’s no furlough for her staff. Why taxpayers are paying it all is a question I wish the electorate would entertain seriously.

  • Paul Marks

    Under the Constitution of the United States of America all Federal government spending bills must start in the House of Representatives – if they do not want to spend a sum of taxpayers money on a certain thing that should be the end the matter.

    Also (like the British House of Commons) a past vote of a past House of Representatives does NOT bind the present House of Representatives (so saying “the House voted for Obamacare in 2010″ is irrelevant – they do not have to fund it, or anything else, now).

    The idea that a past vote means that taxes and spending are immortal (that they do not die even if no one votes for them again) is French – it is how the Kings of France became despots, they got the Estates General to pass perpetual taxes (that did not have to voted for each year) and then got rid of the Estates General.

    An English King could do that also (refuse to call Parliament) the difference was that an English King (by doing that) denied himself TAXATION (as most tax had to be voted for each year) – thus meaning the King (basically) had to “live off his own” (the profits of the Royal Estates).

    The Constitution of the United States of America follows the British model – not the French one of Louis XIV and others. A President can not tax and spend without the consent of the House – not past consent (of a different House), PRESENT consent (of the presently elected House).

    However, a lot of important people do not care about the Constitution of the United States.

    Not just Comrade Barack Obama.

    The “mainstream” media and the “education system” (the academics and teacher trainers) do not care about it either.

    No, that is too weak, it is not that they “do not care about it” – they HATE the Constitution of United States of America.

  • the other rob

    Richard Thomas: Indeed. My absolute favorite comment on the matter went along the lines of “Yeah, the beaches of Normandy were closed when they went there on D-Day, but they re-opened those too.”

  • BrendaK

    There is hope yet, and a shining light to guide us in this our most perilous darkness: the Atlanta City Zoo’s Panda Cam is still working!

  • Laird

    Paul, I agree with your last post with one small correction: under the Constitution it is not spending bills but taxing bills which must originate in the House of Representatives (so yes, it does follow the British model). Article I, Section 7: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.” Spending bills can originate in either house.

  • Still here, Natalie, on day three of Armageddon. Thanks for asking. Will check back in on day ten. Heh.

  • Paul Marks

    Quite so Laird – my apologies.