Journal of the Shutdown: Back to How Things Used to Be

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Clark

Clark is an anarchocapitalist, a reader, and a man of mystery. He's not a neoreactionary, but he is Nrx-curious 'til graduation. All he wants for Christmas is for everyone involved in the police state to get a fair trial and a free hanging. Follow him at @clarkhat

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91 Responses

  1. Jeremy says:

    I have to say, I've enjoyed the theme pictures going along with this series, and ending with a pictures of a wasteland and saying "back to how they used to be" is f-ing hilarious.

  2. Clark says:

    @Jeremy

    I have to say, I've enjoyed the theme pictures going along with this series, and ending with a pictures of a wasteland and saying "back to how they used to be" is f-ing hilarious.

    Thank you. I've had today's quote and image in my back pocket since a few days after the series started and have been savoring the eventual reveal for weeks!

  3. Lewis Baumstark says:

    Brilliant use of source material. (Even though I had to check imdb's quotes to be certain it was what I thought it was. It's been a long time since I've seen that movie. Need to see if it's on Amazon Prime…)

  4. Jonathan says:

    Beyond Thunderdome, right?

  5. BackToYouJim says:

    So we finally figured out who run BarterTown.

  6. Pedant says:

    30% of Congress (163 Senators and Representatives) appear to think (a ludicrous word under the circumstances) that continuing disasters is a good way to govern a country. At the same time, a poll this morning shows a smaller degree of support for these ding-bats than for folks who kill puppies. What happened to the oath congresscritters take?

  7. TimS says:

    @Pedant:

    Gerrymandering, mostly. If your party can't lose the general election (practically speaking), then there's not much incentive to speak hard truths to people who don't want to hear them.

  8. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Pedant

    The only thing the House Republican holdouts cared about during this fight was heading off a Tea Party primary challenge. That's it. Now they can go back and proudly tell their districts that they demonstrably hate the ACA and Obama so much that they were willing to wreck the nation's economy to prove a point.

    And the sad part is it will work, and they'll get re-elected. There will be no cost to the most extreme.

  9. Grifter says:

    I thought the House stenographer going crazy at the end and being dragged off by security was a nice coda.

  10. Eh, I think Nate Cohn and Sean Trende have put the gerrymandering thing to rest. "Gerrymandering" is now the educated man's codeword for "rethuglikkkan teabaggers."

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/10/11/gerrymandering_isnt_to_blame_for_dc_impasse_120300.html

    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115182/shutdown-2013-gerrymandering-still-isnt-blame

    The nation as a whole is simply more polarized. It's just that one side (yours, Dr. Dynamite) wants to claim the mantle of reasonable centrists, and cast its opponents as madmen bent on world destruction.

  11. Clark says:

    @Pedant

    30% of Congress (163 Senators and Representatives) appear to think (a ludicrous word under the circumstances) that continuing disasters is a good way to govern a country.

    So the temporary reduction in spending, to the point that we've only been borrowing 30% of the operating budget instead of 40%, has been a "disaster"?

    What was disastrous about it?

  12. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Not Claude Akins

    It's just that one side (yours, Dr. Dynamite) wants to claim the mantle of reasonable centrists, and cast its opponents as madmen bent on world destruction.

    I am often a fan of a pox on both their houses, and I readily admit the failings of Democrats who are too afraid of being called liberal on a.m. talk radio to do the right thing, but in this incident, there was one party (specifically, one wing of one chamber of one party) who was willing to shut the government down and risk defaulting on our debt to prove a point.

    They could not get what they wanted electorally, so they were willing to risk significantly harming our economy to prove a rhetorical point we all already know: they don't like Obama or the ACA. That's reckless and irresponsible behavior, and we should acknowledge it as such.

  13. jb says:

    Clark,
    The disaster is that the government functions that were cut tended to be the quieter and more useful ones, while the ones that were not cut tended to be the more expensive, more wasteful ones.

    The government is doing too much. The answer is not to simply stop doing some things at random, the answer is to, in a planned and sensible way, decide which things to stop doing.

  14. Clark says:

    @Dr. Nobel Dynamite

    I am often a fan of a pox on both their houses, and I readily admit the failings of Democrats who are too afraid of being called liberal on a.m. talk radio to do the right thing, but in this incident, there was one party (specifically, one wing of one chamber of one party) who was willing to shut the government down and risk defaulting on our debt to prove a point.

    Which wing would that be? The one that passed several continuing budget resolutions, or the one that refused to sign them?

    They could not get what they wanted electorally

    Is this anything like the time one party didn't have enough votes to pass healthcare reform, so they bent the rules and cobbled together two different bills to pass a socialized system in defiance of public opinion polls?

    Or is it different, somehow?

    they were willing to risk significantly harming our economy

    The assertion that "borrowing less money to pay non-essential personnel will harm the economy" is not exactly an axiom agreed upon by all and sundry.

    In fact, some even assert the opposite.

  15. Clark says:

    @jb

    The disaster is that the government functions that were cut tended to be the quieter and more useful ones

    I still haven't seen anyone demonstrate that; I merely hear it asserted over and over and over with out proof.

  16. Tom says:

    I'd suggest that denying over 2 million people their paychecks for almost 3 weeks for no good reason whilst a significant portion of the people who caused this shutdown refused to take a stall in paychecks, the shutdown of the CDC allowing for a Salmonella outbreak in 17 states, the needless deaths of numerous people (some of them are children, think of the children!!) who could not participate in NIH trials, the contractionary effects on the economy, the continuing impact on the long-term unemployed, the risk to financial markets worldwide, the costs associated with managing this risk in the financial companies that could even figure out how to, the loss of American standing in the world, and the damage to the Republican party's standing are not at all disastrous?

    I know that your opposition to government in principle makes you blinkered, but trying to pretend that this has been no big deal makes you sound crazy.

    And @Claude Akins – when one party has a radical wing where huge numbers of people literally refuse to engage with reality (Obama is a socialist Muslim, and the ACA is the worst thing to happen to the US since slavery? Fucking seriously?), it's hard to view the organization that not only permits but encourages this kind of thinking as being rational, which obviously casts the other party in the "reasonable Centrist" light.

  17. jb says:

    Clark,
    CDC was cut, various economic and statistical tracking agencies very useful to business were cut, all kinds of scientific research was screwed, if the shutdown had continued a lot of not terribly expensive and quite effective anti-poverty programs would have been cut…

    But medicare and social security payments went out as normal, the military-industrial complex didn't feel it, the NSA and DHS were fine…you get the picture. The programs that are strangling our freedom and bankrupting us went on as normal, while the things that are actually beneficial on balance didn't.

  18. Clark says:

    @Tom

    I'd suggest that denying over 2 million people their paychecks for almost 3 weeks

    You seem to think that people have some sort of moral property right in a continuing stream of stolen dollars.

    I do not.

    the shutdown of the CDC allowing for a Salmonella outbreak in 17 states

    Salmonella outbreaks happen with regularity all the time.

    Please explain to me the process by which government employees not working for 12 days created or allowed this outbreak.

    the needless deaths of numerous people (some of them are children, think of the children!!) who could not participate in NIH trials

    Please explain to me the mechanism by which "numerous people" died over the last 12 days.

    the contractionary effects on the economy

    The multiplier is zero. Deal with it.

    the continuing impact on the long-term unemployed

    Unemployment checks are done at the state level.

    the risk to financial markets worldwide

    That markets were unperturbed.

    the loss of American [ governmental ] standing in the world

    I'd count that in the benefit column myself, if I gave a shit at all about what foreigners thought of the US government. Which I don't.

    trying to pretend that this has been no big deal makes you sound crazy.

    Trying to assert that it is a big deal with out once citing any evidence makes you sound crazy.

  19. Tom says:

    Ah, this is never going to go well. There's no way that in this medium I'm going to do anything but bait you, and vice versa. There just isn't enough common ground. I'll bow out.

  20. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Clark

    Which wing would that be?

    The wing of the House Republicans that conditioned the funding of government on the defunding of an existing law that they don't have the legitimate electoral mandate to overturn. I understand your feelings about government in general, but even you cannot seriously think that this is responsible.

    If the Republicans want to defund the ACA, they can retake the Senate and win the 2016 election. If they can't do those things, maybe that should tell them something about what the nation actually wants.

    so they bent the rules and cobbled together two different bills to pass a socialized system in defiance of public opinion polls?

    Of course, you're referring to a bill that was voted for by a majority of both chambers of Congress, and signed by the President. I understand why someone would be upset at such chicanery.

    And, your appeal to "public opinion polls" is just silly. For every poll that Republicans trotted out that people were opposed to Obamacare, there were corresponding polls that showed pretty broad support for the actual contents of Obamacare.

  21. Clark says:

    @Tom

    Ah, this is never going to go well.

    Not true at all. If you provided any evidence, I'd consider it. I've changed my opinion on many topics over the years.

    However, if you refuse to cite any evidence, then, yes, it won't go well.

  22. Clark says:

    @Dr. Nobel Dynamite

    @Clark

    Which wing would that be?

    The wing of the House Republicans that conditioned the funding of government on the defunding of an existing law that they don't have the legitimate electoral mandate to overturn.

    So you're assering that defunding programs by the House is always wrong?

    If I can dig up 50 or 100 examples of Democrats doing the exact same thing, you'll call every legislator who voted that way, you'll agree that every one of them acted imorally or illegally, or whatever it is that you're asserting?

    so they bent the rules and cobbled together two different bills to pass a socialized system in defiance of public opinion polls?

    Of course, you're referring to a bill that was voted for by a majority of both chambers of Congress,

    No.

    There were two different bills. The Constitution says that a given bill has to be passed by both houses.

    When the Democrats did not have the votes to get the same bill through both houses (because Republicans now had the electoral mandated – which you are fond of referencing – via the election of Scott Brown), they resorted to tricks.

  23. Tom,

    While I have no doubt that some people think Obama is a secret Marxist-Islamist, I have strong doubts that these views approach the mainstream or even influential. I suspect it's just a way to dismiss one's opponents. Let's play a game:

    If 5% of attendees at a tea party rally wave the stars and bars, does this mean Ted Cruz is a racist?

    If 5% of attendees at an OFA rally wave signs mocking "tea-tards," does this mean OFA is insensitive to the plight of the mentally retarded?

    If 5% of the attendees at an Obama fundraiser are former members of a terrorist organization that killed people and attempted to kill others, does this mean Obama is a terrorist?

    Ideally, your answers to all three of those questions should be the same.

  24. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Clark

    I still haven't seen anyone demonstrate that

    So you went from being willfully obtuse regarding what the CDC does to forgetting altogether that its function and importance was then explained to you rather clearly.

    Honest people can and do disagree about the importance of different government functions, Clark, but you're just being intellectually dishonest.

  25. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    Clark, please do dig up 50-100 examples of Democrats shutting down the federal government because they lack the electoral mandate to get what they want any other way, and threatening to default on the nation's debt unless they get what they want.

    Again, if you think I am a Democratic cheerleader, you're very mistaken. But to be unable to recognize the irresponsible and reckless actions of the House Republicans during this episode because Democrats have done things you don't like in the past is just sophistry.

  26. Tom says:

    I'm not refusing to cite evidence, I'm refusing to engage when our disagreements run too deep and I think that the conversation will be both unfun (for me at least) and fruitless. Neither of us can convince the other without changing the others' mind about some deeply held beliefs – as long as you believe "all government is force" or some variant thereof, and as long as you apply that precept so consistently and rigorously, there is no way I'll convince you. And vice-versa, you'd have to convince me that some of my core intuitions about liberty, and about what that means (including freedom from as robustly as freedom to) around which my worldview is built are incorrect. From where we are each standing, even what constitutes evidence is up for grabs, as should be obvious from your response to me.

  27. melK says:

    @Clark:

    If I can dig up 50 or 100 examples of Democrats doing the exact same thing,….

    You're on. But if you're digging up such examples, dig them all up. Republican, Democrat, Independent, Whig, Federalist, House, Senate.

    The calls to the deceased may take a bit of work, but …

  28. Tom says:

    @Claude Akins – On the one hand, I'd say the answer to all three of those is clearly no, but I'd also point out that they are importantly different. The first is a voluntary gathering of people who self-identify as sharing a worldview, and represent themselves publicly as sharing that worldview. The paradigm sharing is the point. In the third example, Obama cannot control who comes to his rallies or why they want him elected. I think that the asymmetry is relevant.

    Either way, the most reputable polling of whether people believe Obama is a Muslim was late last year, and iirc the value was 15% +- a few points. More than 1 in 10 Americans believe the kind of abject craziness that you flippantly dismiss as being non-mainstream. It's as if you simply don't pay any attention.

  29. chembot says:

    @ dynamite: I think you are missing the point. The mechanism of the salmonella outbreak was not a lack of CDC (or USDA, or FDA employees) in proactively fighting bacteria like some governmental antibody. (And certainly not for such a small period of time given how the whole inspection and investigation process works!) A lot of their role is reactionary, much like the police, who only arrive at your house after it has been robbed.

    All that aside, it is hard to have a lot of sympathy for the arguments about the damaging effects of the "shutdown" when there was an orchestrated effort to unnecessarily maximize the visibility and obnoxiousness of the event on the part of Obama himself. (How many times did he threaten to veto anything that house passed that didn't represent total capitulation on the part of the republicans? The truculence runs deep everywhere, it seems.)

    I did sympathize somewhat with low level gov't employees losing a paycheck because let's face it, most people fall into a job not because it is ideal but because it puts food on the table. However, given that these folks are in the position getting a paid vacation at this point I am decidedly less sympathetic to their plight now.

  30. Tom,

    All of those were examples of voluntary association. I am guilty of asymmetry only inasmuch as I substituted Ted Cruz for the Tea Party.

    That Obama was friendly with Bill Ayers* is a fringe right-wing obsession to be disregarded, but we're quite willing to draw Deep and Troubling Conclusions based on some wanker with a hard on for Stonewall Jackson. This is what I find silly.

    And Americans believe all kinds of crazy shit. So what? Something like 30% believe in UFOs. This doesn't make it mainstream or influential. Where's the House Subcommittee On Green And/Or Gray Men? Where's the congressman getting elected on a pro or anti-spacemen platform? At least now that Trafficant is gone?

    *(For the record, I don't think Obama's association with Ayers is evidence of anything other than his tired, 1960s blend of leftist politics)

    Regarding your other comment, government IS force. There's no two ways about that. Now, we can try to justify that force in some or all cases, but how can you tell yourself it isn't force, when the penalty for noncompliance is inevitably confiscation of life, liberty, or property?

  31. Irk says:

    This isn't very difficult.

    Though at this stage you're going to have anecdotal evidence, and more statistics and better data will emerge when it can be collected, which takes time. Anyone taking a side right now is basing their conclusions on feels and intuition instead of hard data.

  32. Bill says:

    "Continuing disaster"

    A year from now, you'd be hard pressed to show how the American of 20 Oct 2013 was disastrously worse than the America of 20 Sept 2013 (a disaster makes things worse, doesn't it?)

    If you don't want to wait a year, Bill Clinton called the 1995-96 shutdown an "unnatural disaster" (Wash Post 1/4/1996, p. B9). How were things worse for the country, to the level of a disaster, on 1/7/1996 (after the shutdown) compared to 13 Nov 1995 (before the first phase of the shutdown)?

    It's a glitch. It's expensive and a waste of money and time. For some individuals, it is bad. But it isn't a disaster.

  33. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @chembot

    I think you are missing the point. The mechanism of the salmonella outbreak was not a lack of CDC (or USDA, or FDA employees) in proactively fighting bacteria like some governmental antibody. A lot of their role is reactionary, much like the police, who only arrive at your house after it has been robbed.

    I wasn't referring to a salmonella outbreak. I was referring to an earlier discussion w/ Clark regarding the effects of the shutdown. I used the CDC as an example of an important government function that was damaged as a part of the shutdown, and explained to him what the CDC does and why it is valuable.

    He has, alas, disregarded any such explanation in an effort to maintain his base position that the shutdown wasn't a big deal for anyone.

  34. jb says:

    Bill,
    Some science experiments that had been running for years were scotched when the labs' funding was cut off. One study in Antarctica slated to go for 20 years, that had already been running for over a decade, now has garbage data since they couldn't take observations as scheduled.

    These won't show up as reductions in GDP, but who knows what future increases in GDP will now not occur?

    Not all losses are easily visible.

  35. Clark says:

    @jb

    Bill,

    Some science experiments that had been running for years were scotched when the labs' funding was cut off. One study in Antarctica slated to go for 20 years, that had already been running for over a decade, now has garbage data since they couldn't take observations as scheduled.

    Link?

    Also, want to make a $5 bet that the observations were made anyway? I can't remotely envision a scientist trashing a 20 year study by a mere memo from his boss saying "don't come to work for two weeks".

    Not all losses are easily visible.

    And yet people who say things like that violently disagree with the rest of Bastiat…

  36. chembot says:

    @jb: And how many essential park police could have been devoted to feeding the mice. How many funds devoted to policing and coning scenic overlooks could have been diverted to antarctica or whatever? There was an element of choice in all of this that gets glossed over.

  37. bkmak says:

    All of you are missing the most critical point….Now that the government is back in operation, PANDACAM is back running. The day has been saved.

  38. azazel1024 says:

    Dont take that bet Clark.

    As a Federal Employee I can tell you I was instructed by at least two different manager, both my direct supervisor and hers, do NOT do ANYTHING work related, PERIOD. We MAY NOT volunteer our time (The gov't may not solicit NOR accept it). I would not have even been able to get in to my building even if I had tried.

    In a lot of cases, the buildings those researchers might want to get in to to conduct their research were locked to them.

    Yeah, I am sure there are cases were researchers snuck a little continuing research in on the DL. A lot however litterally were incapable of continuing anything. A lot of research projects had little impact, some though did lose years and years of work because they couldn't continue to be conducted for a couple of weeks.

    Cancer trials were delayed by the NIH. At least for those who would have been enrolled, it could mean they will now die because their experimental treatment was delayed a couple of weeks (or they are now no longer elligible)…oh, sure some of them might have died anyway, and what business is it of the gov't saving lives and all, but its hard to say that a few of those people won't now die as a result.

    Businesses surrounding a lot of national parks were hit hard, a lot of them at least temporarily let go employees, who won't be getting paid back. I have some buddies who are contractors for the DoD. Their employer fired them day 1 of the furlough with the promise of hiring them back when it is over (didn't want to pay their benefits during the shut down)…it'll take several more weeks before they can have their job back because they have to be recleared since they are Top Secret clearance positions. Which means weeks and weeks lost pay check.

  39. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Not Claude Akins

    While I have no doubt that some people think Obama is a secret Marxist-Islamist, I have strong doubts that these views approach the mainstream or even influential

    If you were to ask every House Republican to go on the record agreeing with the following statements:

    1. Barack Obama was born in the Unites States.

    2. Barack Obama is constitutionally eligible to be President of the United States.
    3. Barack Obama is a Christian.

    what percentage do you think would be willing? I honestly think it would be around or less than half.

  40. Luke G says:

    Sore spot there, Clark, regarding the Antarctic scientific observations. So you're saying that part of the reason the shutdown didn't do any damage whatsoever is that federal employees (who you claimed IN THIS THREAD had no right to be paid with "stolen money") just kept doing their jobs in defiance of instructions not to? You can't simultaneously dismiss unpaid federal employees as leeches and then also assume they will keep doing their jobs and that because they are so generous and dedicated the shutdown didn't cause a problem for them.

    And as Azazel says, for many it was forbidden to even volunteer their time to continue their work. Haven't you said before you're Catholic? Then was there zero harm to the Catholics serving in the military who were unable to receive sacraments when chaplains were forbidden from saying masses?

  41. Clark says:

    @Luke

    Sore spot there, Clark

    Sore spot? For who?

    So you're saying that part of the reason the shutdown didn't do any damage whatsoever is that federal employees just kept doing their jobs in defiance of instructions not to?

    I'm saying that JB and everyone else in this thread keep asserting that damages were done but haven't once linked to any proof.

    10 comments later, and that still hasn't changed.

  42. Clark says:

    @azazel1024

    I have some buddies who are contractors for the DoD. Their employer fired them day 1 of the furlough

    Good.

    We've got a vast and bloated military industrial complex, and I hope your friends go get jobs in useful and productive areas of the economy.

  43. Shelby says:

    I honestly think it would be around or less than half.

    That doesn't tell us anything about Congress. All it tells us is what YOU think.

  44. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Shelby

    It's hypothetical, of course, but I base my estimate on the last six years of behavior from House Republicans, and I think the likelihood that so many House Republicans would be unwilling to agree on the record with such benign statements does in fact speak volumes about them.

    If you don't think I've made a reasonable guess, feel free to provide your own estimate.

  45. Ahkbar says:

    @Clark

    There were two different bills. The Constitution says that a given bill has to be passed by both houses.

    When the Democrats did not have the votes to get the same bill through both houses (because Republicans now had the electoral mandated – which you are fond of referencing – via the election of Scott Brown), they resorted to tricks.

    You are correct in that there were two bills that made up the legislation that made up the Affordable Health Care Act. But as far as I am aware of both bills were passed by both houses in Congress.

    I don't quite understand how the special election of one senator in MS can be called an electoral mandate to stop legislation for the entire US. It did prevent the Senate democrats from having a filibuster-proof majority, but the bulk of the PPACA had already been passed by the Senate by that time, and from what I understand the procedural move to use the reconciliation process to provide a filibuster proof manner to make budgetary amendments to the PPACA was mostly due to concessions wanted by House Democrats in House-Senate conference (which would have to be passed by the Senate again).

    You may believe that tricks were used, but from what I understand the Constitution allows each house to make their own rules. Those rules were followed to pass each bill through both houses and then were signed by the President. I do not see how it is illegal for Congress to pass a law, then pass another law modifying the details of the first law (a simplification, but I believe captures the essence of what was done).

    Can you clarify where you believe an unconstitutional move was made?

  46. Clark says:

    @Ahkbar:

    Can you clarify where you believe an unconstitutional move was made?

    In fact, I do not think that the method of passing the ACA was unconstitutional (I think the contents are unconstitutional, but that's another matter).

    My point was merely that @Dr. Nobel Dynamite was trying to make up ad-hoc criteria for moral legitimacy of political tactics; criteria that his team does not even play by.

    Thus, my critique was one of arbitrary and changing standards, not of the ACA passage mechanism per se.

  47. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Clark

    My point was merely that @Dr. Nobel Dynamite was trying to make up ad-hoc criteria for moral legitimacy of political tactics; criteria that his team does not even play by.

    Nonsense. First, I made clear that Democrats certainly weren't my "team." Second, I made clear that one need not be a cheerleader for Democrats to acknowledge that House Republicans were engaging in some wildly irresponsible behavior by shutting down the government and threatening to default on our national debt to achieve goals for which they have no electoral mandate.

    Still waiting for those 50-100 examples of Democrats shutting down the federal government because they lack the electoral mandate to get what they want any other way, and threatening to default on the nation's debt unless they get what they want.

  48. nlp says:

    Clark,

    How do you feel about garbage pickup in DC? Is that something that would matter? I hope that one of the changes that take place due to the shutdown is that DC is allowed to spend its own money as needed. I'm sure that one party or another would suddenly start fussing about what a terrible idea that is, since we seem to have reverted to grade school, where kids oppose an idea simply because they don't like the kid who suggested it. But it would be a nice goal.

    But to be honest, one of the things that most annoyed me was the constant refrain, from part of the Republican party, that the shutdown was terrible because WWII vets couldn't visit their memorial. That was awful. Nothing else mattered. They went on and on about the WWII memorial.

    Short-term, yes, there has been damage in terms of experiments and other work that was going on. I don't know whether it's catastrophic damage or not. If the shutdown had continued, eventually there would be economic damage from loss of tourism, since so many national parks and museums were closed. That affects hotels, restaurants and airlines, and can have a huge impact on the economy. Since passports could not be issued, that would also have an affect on travel. (Even if people are traveling abroad, they are often using US based carriers to get there).

    Perhaps the major problem? Every country in the world now realizes that the situation in the US is so bad that we can barely stumble along, and anything of major importance will start a political fight.

    What's saddest is that if both sides had honestly worked together, they probably could have come up with a health-care bill that everyone could support. But political posturing is apparently more important than the health of the nation.

  49. Shelby says:

    @nlp:
    we seem to have reverted to grade school, where kids oppose an idea simply because they don't like the kid who suggested it

    The problem is, that's Congress as usual. You're unlikely to find a less grown-up institution of supposed adults. (Which is an excellent reason not to give them more money and power.)

    I took the going-on about the WWII Memorial to be pointing out the stupid theatrics engaged in by the Administration — going out of its way to cause problems that the "shutdown" did not require. In short, pointing out the President's childishness.

    And there's no way Harry Reid or Barack Obama are going to let the Republican House try to make any meaningful revisions to the Affordable Care Act, so they were not going to "come up with a health-care bill that everyone could support." Moreover, Republicans aren't going to support anything based on the ACA's fundamental principles and structure; getting their buy-in would require scrapping it and starting over to build something less regulatory and without an individual mandate.

  50. En Passant says:

    jb wrote Oct 17, 2013 @9:51 am:

    Some science experiments that had been running for years were scotched when the labs' funding was cut off. One study in Antarctica slated to go for 20 years, that had already been running for over a decade, now has garbage data since they couldn't take observations as scheduled.

    In reply to which Clark wrote Oct 17, 2013 @9:54 am:

    Also, want to make a $5 bet that the observations were made anyway? I can't remotely envision a scientist trashing a 20 year study by a mere memo from his boss saying "don't come to work for two weeks".

    What I want to know is how 2 weeks missing data in a 1040 week experiment will render the entire set of data "garbage".

    If the data is to be analyzed as time series data, that's roughly a .2% decrease in signal to noise ratio.

    If the data is not to be analyzed as time dependent, then the number of observations is decreased by about .2%, which will only change Student's t-value by about .04% (that's % change not absolute change), so the decrease in statistical significance of the result will be small.

    All of that opinion is subject to my not totally screwing up the arithmetic, of course. And assuming that the data mean and standard deviation are equal in the (actual) 1020 and (hypothetical) 1040 point data sets.

    I just don't think that loss of 2 out of 1040 observations will render the entire set of data "garbage" to be discarded. If it actually is the case, then I have serious questions about the experimental design.

  51. En Passant says:

    "… (actual) 1020 and (hypothetical) 1040 …"should be "… (actual) 1038 and (hypothetical) 1040 …"

  52. Luke G says:

    @ Clark

    You have made 2 assertions, one is that no damage whatsoever was done by the shutdown, the other is that anyone paid by the federal government has no right to their "stolen money." When JB pointed out that the lapse in ongoing science experiments counts as damage, you hand-waved it off with "Well, the scientists probably didn't stop, even when their funding was shut off and they were forbidden to continue, even on a volunteer basis."

    If they did, they worked without funding and against orders for the greater good. That is harm to them. If they did not, then valuable scientific data was lost as ongoing experiements were ruined by the gap.

    I certainly don't think the shutdown was a catastrophe, or that everything the federal government does it necessary. I do think that you're getting into some twisted logic, where federal employees are simultaneously altruists who will keep things running in the face of the shutdown while ALSO being worthless leeches on society, thus the disruption of their lives doesn't count as "real" harm.

    Again, what about Catholic servicemen whose access to weekly mass was cut off when the gov't forbade military chaplains to say mass? (I'm sure this applies to other religions as well, but Catholicism is what I'm familiar with). What about air traffic controllers, working without pay during the shutdown? Or do you consider them to have no moral right to their salary either?

  53. Clark says:

    @Luke G

    @ Clark

    When JB pointed out that the lapse in ongoing science experiments counts as damage, you hand-waved it off with "Well, the scientists probably didn't stop, even when their funding was shut off and they were forbidden to continue, even on a volunteer basis."

    I didn't hand-wave it away; I asked for proof.

    I've asked over and over and over for proof of any damage, and have received…nothing.

    what about Catholic servicemen whose access to weekly mass was cut off when the gov't forbade military chaplains to say mass?

    There is nothing inherent in a shutdown that requires that chaplains be forbidden from volunteering; that was pure politics.

    Did some of the politics that happened around the shutdown harm people? Absolutely. I've got a friend who lost income because the government illegally shut down his firm during the shutdown.

    That's not the same as saying that a temporary 15% cut in spending caused any damage.

    What about air traffic controllers, working without pay during the shutdown?

    No one is working with out pay.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2013/10/17/feds-can-expect-back-pay-with-next-checks/

  54. Clark says:

    @En Passant

    What I want to know is how 2 weeks missing data in a 1040 week experiment will render the entire set of data "garbage".

    Zing.

  55. Bill says:

    @jb

    Some science experiments that had been running for years were scotched when the labs' funding was cut off. . . . Not all losses are easily visible.

    I don't disagree that there were some bad things associated with the shutdown (did you read my post?). But lost scientific data (every unfunded grant is "lost" scientific data . . .), dying lab mice, closed national parks, etc. don't count as "disasters", which is what I was disputing.

    At a personal level, I agree that lost paychecks, lack of access to medical care, etc can be a disaster. But at the national level, where laws and policy should be made, these aren't disasters either.

    The Depression-era dust bowl drought was a disaster. The 1918 flu epidemic was a disaster. WWII. Hurricane Sandy.

    Hyperbole is what I was arguing against.

  56. nlp says:

    And there's no way Harry Reid or Barack Obama are going to let the Republican House try to make any meaningful revisions to the Affordable Care Act, so they were not going to "come up with a health-care bill that everyone could support."

    Shelby, when I commented that it was unfortunate that the two sides didn't work together on healthcare, I was not referring to the current stupidities, but rather to the original attempt to create affordable healthcare for everyone. The two major political parties have been driven so far apart that there seems little room left to draft legislation that both sides can reasonably support.

  57. Luke G says:

    @ Clark

    Fair enough, but the thrust of these posts hasn't been simply "15% reduction can be done painlessly" but "This specific shutdown has caused no damage." It's disingenuous to separate the hypothetical way the reduction COULD have been done from the way it actually WAS done, and the way it really happened involved political maneuvers that caused problems.

    Simply because back pay will go out now, does not negate the inconvenience and uncertainty that the situation creates in the short term. I know I'd be pretty cheesed if my company suddenly said "Oh, you're missing this paycheck. Don't worry, we'll pay you double next time. Probably."

    Finally, No "Zing." An experiment collecting ongoing data can't just go dark for 2 weeks and have that ignored, even if that's a small percentage of the time. When science is done right it has exacting procedures laid out ahead of time, and if they get broken you either scrap the whole thing or try to salvage the scraps, you don't just shrug it off as "not much of the total."

  58. Clark says:

    @Luke G

    Fair enough, but the thrust of these posts hasn't been simply "15%
    reduction can be done painlessly" but "This specific shutdown has
    caused no damage." It's disingenuous to separate the hypothetical way
    the reduction COULD have been done from the way it actually WAS done,
    and the way it really happened involved political maneuvers that
    caused problems.

    I take your point – shutdown A that shutters department X and leaves Y open might be better than shutdown B that does the reverse.

    …but that's not the point I'm making.

    I'm saying that the shutdown – i.e., the curtailment of spending by 15%, did happen with out any harm at all.

    What caused harm was explicit extra spending – things like renting barricades, printing up flyers, sending police out to put cones in roadways, etc.

    Finally, No "Zing." An experiment collecting ongoing data can't just go dark for 2 weeks and have that ignored,

    Yes, zing. You said that experiments were "destroyed".

  59. Shelby says:

    @nlp:

    Regarding 2009, you're right. But there was no effort whatsoever in Congress or the White House to get Republican buy-in, because the Democrats convinced themselves that they finally! could impose their vision on the country. They were correct, except they ignored the need for cross-aisle support to actually make the damn thing work, and they designed it in such a way that the Republicans would never support it.

  60. Shane says:

    @ahkbar

    You may believe that tricks were used,

    They were.

  61. Malc. says:

    @Clark,

    When you claim that you think the contents of the ACA is "unconstitutional", you (like the idiot Republicans who keep spouting this nonsense) are wrong.

    Just wrong.

    I suspect what you mean is that the case was, in your opinion, wrongly decided, or perhaps that your interpretation of the constitution disagrees with many/most of the basis of the decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius.

    However, per the Constitution, Article III, Section 1, the decision as to what is, and is not, constitutional does not rest with you, Clark, it rests with "one supreme court". And since the question about the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act was a Case, in accordance with the Constitution, Article III, Section 2, about a "Law of the United States", and since it is a case that has been decided by that "one supreme court", what you think is utterly irrelevant[1].

    The point is that you throw around words like "constitutional" without bothering to recognize that, just like the words "lawful" and "unlawful", "legal" and "illegal" are decided by a court, so "constitutional" and "unconstitutional" are terms with a specific meaning that is determined according to a process defined within the Constitution.

    So pretending that something is "unconstitutional" after it has been ruled "constitutional" by the very body that the Constitution created to make such ruling is simply wrong.

    [1] It is, I suppose, remotely possible that your elusive alter ego is known in the world of mortals as "Antonin Scalia" or "Samual Alito", which case that statement is technically incorrect. [ I refuse to believe that anyone could actually be "Clarence Thomas", despite the evidence to the contrary. ]

  62. Chris Rhodes says:

    @Malc.

    So pretending that something is "unconstitutional" after it has been ruled "constitutional" by the very body that the Constitution created to make such ruling is simply wrong.

    Does the constitution actually give the supreme court the right to declare a law unconstitutional? As I recall, they simple decided that they had that power themselves.

    EDIT:

    Either way, if the government is the ultimate arbiter of the limits of its own power, then what's the point of having a constitution that aims to limit the government?

    "Should the occasion ever arise, remind me to not make a government and give it a piece of paper with instructions on how to restrain itself. " – Jeffrey Tucker

  63. Clark says:

    Does the constitution actually give the supreme court the right to declare a law unconstitutional? As I recall, they simple decided that they had that power themselves.

    Indeed, you are right and @Malc is wrong.

  64. Shelby says:

    If a future president decides that law X is unconstitutional and cannot be legally enforced, I don't think she will be bound by a Supreme Court opinion that it is indeed constitutional. Nor, for the same reason, are citizens so bound. Our legal recourse is limited, but "The Supreme Court said so!" does not always and permanently establish constitutionality.

  65. This shutdown has accomplished some good, in that it has exposed the stupidity of the very idea of central government. Autonomy is anathema to the federal bureaucracy, and this little hissy fit has exposed their contempt for all the world to see (when you're short on money, the appropriate response is not to spend resources to restrict access to normally freely available sites). The more stunts like this the Gov pulls, the more people will see that centralization is a bad idea, and the more they will oppose efforts to strengthen and centralize government.

    At least, that's what I hope will happen.

  66. Buboe says:

    Clark, in regards to your requested proof of damage from the shutdown, have a look at the attached 1 month t-bill rates.
    http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/Pages/TextView.aspx?data=yield
    This translates exactly to costs to the govt.
    In regards to your picture – that's out bridge…
    Australia had it's own Govt shutdown in the early seventies which resulted in a successful coup attempt (perpetrated by our right wing parties, and backed by the queen's representative) Following this, we passed laws preventing more shutdown's from happening.
    Oh, and the coup? it came about because a socialist PM of ours (Gough Whitlam, who was a real big S socialist) privatised health care… :-)

  67. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Luke G

    The problem, Luke, is one of premises. You can point out any number of programs and people that were harmed by the shutdown, but those don't count because Clark doesn't consider a government worker going without pay, drastic reductions in services from agencies like the CDC, or the interruption of state funded scientific research to be harmful. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    When the author's baseline approach is that government workers are paid with "stolen" money and people like public school teachers are a homogeneous bunch of "criminals," I'm pretty sure that things that seem harmful to you, me, and a lot of other reasonable people are not going to register.

  68. En Passant says:

    Luke G wrote Oct 17, 2013 @1:22 pm:

    Finally, No "Zing." An experiment collecting ongoing data can't just go dark for 2 weeks and have that ignored, even if that's a small percentage of the time. When science is done right it has exacting procedures laid out ahead of time, and if they get broken you either scrap the whole thing or try to salvage the scraps, you don't just shrug it off as "not much of the total."

    Depends entirely on the experiment and the experimental design.

    If you're trying to detect rare Noseeum particles from Zeta Reticula, and you miss the only two weeks in 20 years that one happens to fly by, then yes, your experiment may be ruined. But you'll never know.

    But if you're collecting data to be statistically analyzed, and not looking for rare events, losing 2 weeks out of 1040 weeks data points isn't going to make much difference in your results.

    In some experiments you might disregard that many observations for various reasons (such as outliers) anyway. Dropping data points will decrease the statistical significance of the result because it decreases the number of observations. But 2 out of 1040 won't change it by much.

  69. Malc. says:

    @Chris Rhodes,

    No matter what Clark may like to pretend, the plain text of the Constitution disagrees with him. Clark and his ilk like to pretend that Marbury v Madison was some whopping Constitutional overreach, but that requires a distorted reading of this:

    The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;–to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;–to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;–to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;–to Controversies between two or more States;–between a State and Citizens of another State;10 –between Citizens of different States, –between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

    There's no hidden exemption for stuff Clark doesn't like. The text is quite straightforward: ALL CASES IN LAW AND EQUITY ARISING UNDER THIS CONSTITUTION.

    So the question of whether the Supreme Court has the power to decide a question under the Constitution is answered by the Constitution: Yes.

    It's remarkable, when you think about it, how the Clarks of this world hold some parts of the Constitution as some sort of Sacred Creed, while twisting themselves into knots trying to pretend that other parts of the same document has to be interpreted in the light of some super-secret magic decoder ring, which only they have.

    So, no, Clark, you are wrong. You may not be honest enough to admit that, although you may not like the way Marbury v Madison or National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius turned out, they are Constitutional based on the Constitution as it is, not how you would like it to be.

    As to the question of the remedy to The People if they don't like some decision by the Supreme Court, that too is covered by the Constitution: simply change the Constitution by one of the two methods proscribed therein. There's nothing special about Article III Section 2, and it could be modified to read:

    The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;–to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;–to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;–to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;–to Controversies between two or more States;–between a State and Citizens of another State;10 –between Citizens of different States, –between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects, unless the case is one that Clark doesn't like, whereupon the judicial Power shall be vested in no-one, because that's daft enough for Clark.

    As to why the Constitution grants the Supreme Court this power, you have to recall that, at the time of writing, supreme Judicial power typically resided with the monarch, and it was generally felt that this wasn't working out so well for the residents of the thirteen colonies.

    Of course, as @Shelby notes, Supreme Court decisions are not infallible or permanent (that sort of nonsense tends to be claimed by religious "leaders", who justify their fake claims to infallibility with arm waving appeals to invisible authority). Decision can be, and are, reversed. Justices retire, die, and can be impeached and removed from office.

    The point is that the question of whether something is, or is not, constitutional is exactly related to the type of question whether something is, or is not, legal. If the court says it is, then it is, and it will remain so until either the relevant legislation (which includes the Constitution) is changed, or another court of equal or superior rank rules otherwise. Clark's opinion just doesn't count.

    And flat claims that it does are no different from pretending the world is flat. You can say what you want, but it doesn't change reality.

    So, to summarize, the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, and I can prove it. Clark claims it isn't, but can't prove his thesis. The irony of his demands for proof in other subjects is noted.

  70. Malc. says:

    @En Passant

    This article explains one of the specific issue that Clark pretends doesn't exist. Having lost 2 weeks of logistical support, no-one, not even Clark, can wave a wand a rewind the clocks to October 1st. People and equipment are not where they need to be, and with only a limited window of time in which to setup experiments, there's not enough time to undo the mess Clark's buddies made AND do whatever it was that you had planned.

    So in some cases it's not the two samples that Clark blithely dismisses, but the samples for an entire season, which usually means the samples for the entire year…

  71. G. Filotto says:

    Well, after careful reading of all the comments, all I can say on this is: screw ya all, I'm with Clark. And I'm also a foreigner. And ahm wavin' the confederate (but in its purely Rebel context, not its KKK context) flag at y'all.

  72. Luke G says:

    @ Clark-

    Sorry, I'm done. I'm not talking about extra spending, I gave you specific examples which you said were due to "politics" as though the shutdown were somehow separate from "politics." Then you turned straight away and said once again that no harm actually resulted. I can chase you around in circles but it's futile. You're engaging in a classic moving of the goalposts. "Show me one instance of harm!" you cry, eminently reasonable. Then, when anyone attempts to, you say "Well, that isn't REALLY harm, because teachers are paid with stolen money/ it cost extra money to shutter the monuments/ I assume that those particular experiments could go without 2 weeks of data/ the experiments weren't actually DESTROYED/ Forbidding chaplains from saying mass didn't HAVE to happen (even though it did)."

    Nothing that anybody tells you will ever be the right thing to say, because you've firmly set your mind. Unfortunately, I think that I'm agreeing more and more with the critics of this whole series of posts, in that you are so blinded by your loathing for government that you refuse to acknowledge that it serves any useful purpose at all. Besides, the shutdown didn't affect YOU, so it couldn't have been important, right?

  73. G. Filotto says:

    I think Clark's General view (I may be badly wrong here, you really need to ask him) which I happen to share, is that gov'mint in general is an evil thing that causes other evils. Killing the evil thing sometimes causes pain but only because the original evil twisted things so. Think of it like this: government=cancer and then I think it will make more sense.

  74. Clark says:

    @Luke G

    @ Clark-

    Sorry, I'm done.

    …he says before writing another 200 words…

    You're engaging in a classic moving of the goalposts. "Show me one instance of harm!" you cry, eminently reasonable.

    I understand why you say that, and it's a valid type of criticism, but I think it's wrong here.

    Then, when anyone attempts to, you say "Well, that isn't REALLY harm, because teachers are paid with stolen money

    First, I know of no teachers who were furloughed.

    Second, what is the definition of "harm"? This is a serious question, and please read the following paragraph once or twice before responding.

    If a rapist is in the habit of raping one woman per night, and an entire neighborhood puts better locks on its doors one day, thus frustrating the rapist, and we do a quality of life survey, the rapist will say that his quality of life has gone down. Does this count as "harm"? If we survey the women who were in fear but no longer are, they would say that their quality of life has gone up. I can acknowledge that the rapist is unhappy, but point out that (a) net utility has been increased, and (b) I label the rapist's happiness as illegitimate and not worthy of debate.

    But let's dispense with 'b'. You think that bureacrats writing regulations about Ikea furniture instructions are doing valuable work, and you think that it would be grossly negligent – even offensive – to bin them in the same group as rapists, even though they use the threat of force to secure their salaries. We get back to 'a'. I assert that the people who were furloughed suffered less harm than the good delivered to the other people (current citizens, generations yet unborn) by not borrowing more cash that they will have to pay back.

    it cost extra money to shutter the monuments

    This is hardly moving the goal posts; if I take away your employee expense account credit so that you can't buy a burrito, and you whip out a different employee expense account credit card and use it to seize a steak restaurant and eat there, you can not chalk this up to "austerity".

    Nothing that anybody tells you will ever be the right thing to say, because you've firmly set your mind.

    I am not firmly set. I have changed my opinions about almost everything over the last 20 years.

    You observe one fact: Clark has not changed his mind in this thread.

    There are (at least) three possible explanations:

    * Clark never changes his mind about anything.
    * Clark may change his mind, and is wrong on this topic, but no one has provided the actual existing evidence that would convince him.
    * Clark may change his mind, and is right on this topic; no data exists that could possibly change his mind.

    You assert that the first case is true. You have no evidence to support this.

    I assert that one of the latter two cases is true. I have evidence to support this: the fact that my mind has been changed on topics like abortion, gun control, gay rights, etc.

    the shutdown didn't affect YOU, so it couldn't have been important, right?

    That is not remotely my argument; you are constructing a strawman.

  75. Chris Rhodes says:

    you are so blinded by your loathing for government that you refuse to acknowledge that it serves any useful purpose at all

    I don't think his belief that government serves no useful purpose is hidden to him. Mine certainly isn't hidden to me.

    @Malc.

    Again, you are essentially saying that the limitations of the government are to be defined only by the government, and can change at any time. That's a perfectly fine opinion, but why in the world would you assume anyone\everyone else has to agree with that interpretation of the intent of the constitution?

  76. Clark says:

    @G. Filotto

    I think Clark's General view (I may be badly wrong here, you really need to ask him) which I happen to share, is that gov'mint in general is an evil thing that causes other evils.

    In the main, you are correct.

    I do admit that some of the things that government does are legitimate (capturing murderers, prosecuting fraud, running fire departments), but I think that those can be better and more morally done with out the inherent violence and coercion implicit in government.

  77. Chris Rhodes says:

    @Clark

    I do admit that some of the things that government does are legitimate (capturing murderers, prosecuting fraud, running fire departments)

    I'm not sure I extend them even that much credit. Can you expound on what you mean by "legitimate"?

    I certainly would not pay a dime for the shoddy excuse for police we have, given a choice, but I am still forced to. This seems illegitimate to me.

    If by "legitimate" you instead mean, "maybe some good comes of it", then yes: sometimes police take rapists and murderers off the streets. But if having some good effects is all it takes to make a governmental action legitimate, I think you can call anything legitimate under that standard.

  78. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Clark

    the shutdown didn't affect YOU, so it couldn't have been important, right?

    That is not remotely my argument; you are constructing a strawman.

    It's not your explicit argument, but it's the unifying premise to your entire series of cutesy posts about the shutdown. Well, that, and your contempt for anyone who was affected directly.

  79. Shane says:

    @Dr. Nobel Dynamite

    Well, that, and your contempt for anyone who was affected directly.

    And when the government is back up and running do we now ignore the people whom the government has forced into situations that are similar or the same as the government employees that were hurt during the shutdown? The shutdown lasted ~2 weeks out of how many weeks that everyone else will have to suffer. The shutdown is over and now no one is effected and therefore no sympathy required?

    I don't get it. Why does one group of people garner sympathy, but another group does not and the only difference between the two groups is their employer. This is crazy.

  80. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Shane

    I don't follow. What group of people do you think I've presented as undeserving of sympathy?

  81. Shane says:

    @Dr. Nobel Dynamite

    The people that are laid off or their hours are cut from the private workforce because of either regulation, or monetary gyrations from the Federal Reserve or because the taxes that are paid go up and private investment shrinks. What about all of the workers that get a pay cut because the ACA kicks in. At least the government workers are paid for their time off.

    No one is up in arms when private scientists' funding is cut for whatever reason. It is only when then government workers/scientists lose funding do we care. I find this to be very one sided. Truth be told I can find no other reason than political that anyone other than those closely related would give a shit about their loss. It is only when a political point is being made that anyone cares.

    So stop already with the people are harmed bit, because everyone suffers at some point when it comes to employment. Government workers are not some overarching essential people that we can't get along without (And neither are private workers for that matter).

  82. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says:

    @Shane

    First of all, arguing that harm is not real because other people have experienced similar harm doesn't make any sense. If anyone is laid off or has their pay cut because a someone else wants to engage in ridiculous and utterly pointless political theater, I think that's wasteful and silly and worth caring about.

    Second, government employees going without pay is far from the only harm that the shutdown caused. As has been discussed at length in several of these stories, various government services and functions were either hindered or ceased.

  83. Ken says:

    I don't think we're borrowing much from the Chinese any more. The Fed is just printing it outright by buying its own Treasury issues.

  84. Malc. says:

    @Chris Rhodes

    Well, yeah. As that Lincoln chap said, it's a government of the people, by the people, for the people. And the key thing is that it was designed as a "more perfect" union, not a "perfect union".

    The problem with those who dislike the outcome of Marbury v Madison is that they don't have a better solution: if the Supreme Court doesn't get to decide the validity of a law, who does? If the Marbury court had not asserted the right to declare (parts of) the Judiciary Act of 1789 to be unconstitutional, who did have that power?

    So either the Congress is deemed to be incapable of passing unconstitutional laws, in which case people like Clark would be unable to claim that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional simply on the grounds that it had been passed by both houses and signed by the President, or some body has the power and indeed the duty to weigh the operation of legislation against the Constitution, in which case Clark cannot validly claim the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional because the Supreme Court ruled otherwise.

    Hence Clark is wrong, and bizarrely enough his effort to show otherwise fails. Shocker!

    [ Mind you, this lack-of-a-better-solution is equally evident by those who froth and rant against the ACA: it's far from perfect, but it's better than spending stupidly large parts of the GDP keeping health executives in the Top 10 CEO salary league. How to save $10,000,000 in health care costs? Simply slash one man's pay by 23%... ]

    Now, I do agree that having some non-government body with the power to declare a law or an action to be unconstitutional is a very nice idea, but we're left with the semantic definition of government: isn't that hypothetical body a part of government, albeit separate from the legislative and executive branches? If that body was not a part of the judicial branch, surely all we're doing is adding a fourth branch… of government?

    About the only way you can actually achieve a non-government "ultimate court" is if you voluntarily submit to the jurisdiction of a body based extraterritorially; for example, the UK being subject to the EU supreme courts (ECHR, etc). This violates the "by the people" principle expressed at Gettysburg, and anyway (regardless of the merits of the idea) the nitwits who want the US government curtailed are generally the same nitwits who are isolationists and American exceptionalists. So that's a non-starter.

    @Ken Nope. See e.g. here

  85. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    It seems a little odd to argue with an Anarchist about whether the shutdown caused harm. For one to "win" that argument, I would think that one would need to provide proof of… net harm, for want of a better name.

    Benefits of shutdown – (I am blatantly oversimplifying and and guessing here – not being an Anarchist myself)

    1) Government as a whole looks bad to the governed. Indeed, the "best" government to those who like U.S. style of governance looks bad. This is a benefit as it makes the *lack* of government look relatively good – or at least a more attractive alternative than before.
    2) Government is weakened. This is partly due to the perception issue above, but add in monetary loss, loss of skilled personnel who found other employment as a result of shutdown etc. etc.
    3) Increase in factionalism / party schism. I'm guessing here, but I would think an Anarchist would see increase of divisions in monolithic authorities as a benefit.

    There may be more than that, but you get the idea. As for harm, assuming every example of harm given by those arguing against Clark is seen as harm by an Anarchist; do all of those harms outweigh the benefits listed above?
    In short, is the harm greater than the benefit of the advertisement for Anarchotopia provided by the shutdown?

    what is the definition of "harm"?

    Someone who sees Anarchy as the Greater Good will answer that question much differently than someone who sees it as a mindless horde of blood and savagery.

    (On a lighter note, and for the record, I see Clark as more of a Chaos Space Marine player – Tzeentch if I had to guess – than either the Tau or Tyrannid player that last sentence might have implied. maybe Orcs.)

  86. barry says:

    In most other places a government shutdown would be a 'constitutional crisis', And the obvious thing to do would be to try to fix it. Not just fix that particular occurrence, but fix it so it can't/won't happen again.

    The difficulty in the American case is demonstrated in these comment threads; a lot of people insisting "it's not broken",and "that's what it's supposed to do". As if the founding fathers had actually forseen that people would vote for representatives to govern them whose policy was not to govern them, rather than to govern them well.

    If my car motor sounds like a sick badger trying to yodel, and someone tells me that's it's supposed to sound like that, I might suspect they don't want me to even try to fix it, they might just want my car to break down completely sooner so they can sell me another one.

    Having a sacred document as a constitution makes it more difficult to fix. Usually the section to be changed (after a referendum etc) is removed and the new section is inserted in its place, and the result is a new amended functional constitution (let's see if it works). But when a constitution is considered to be sacred, words are not removed, the new amendments are added onto the end of the old one. This makes it a much bigger deal, much more public resistance, and less likely to happen. And more likely that the same problem will be rescheduled into the future, rather than anyone suggesting it should or could actually be fixed so it doesn't happen again.

    Having the most sacred constitution should not be confused with having the best one.

  87. Allen says:

    Never, ever was there a delay in government funding for science. See because when those appropriations are approved the funding documents go out post haste.

    It's never happened in the history of the United States that appropriations were stalled. I know, I know, sometimes funding is cut, but it has never resulted in a government agency postponing or killing a super important science program.

    Super secret… sometimes Congress can authorize spending, in vital national interest, without a spending bill. Why, it's almost like Congress can do a unanimous consent thing and it ends up on the President's desk.

    Really, scientific research funding delays are the norm not the exception. It's always been that way.

  88. Deathpony says:

    Love the pic. Some days I do feel Sydney is a wasteland with a small patch of attractive stuff in the middle, going the whole way warms my Melbournian heart.

    An on topic question, from I guess a puzzled and perturbed external observer.

    Can someone from the USA tell me how this ends well. By this, I mean the debt/spending bloat/entitlement snowballing. Because, the impression I get is even this doesnt seem to have changed anything.

    Rather this crisis/non crisis, depending on your POV, seems to have demonstrated to me more than anything else that in fact no-one with the power to make anything stick in the USA has an interest in making the fundamental changes required to bring spending inside sustainable envelopes that your country could tolerate the taxation to pay for.

    Everything about your electoral system seems designed to ensure only those with an intrest in the status quo, or more importantly, money from those with an interest in the status quo, can succeed long term, whether that is the unions or Lockheed Martin or corn farmers. Same difference frankly.

  89. Clark says:

    @Deathpony

    Love the pic. Some days I do feel Sydney is a wasteland with a small patch of attractive stuff in the middle, going the whole way warms my Melbournian heart.

    ;-)

    Can someone from the USA tell me how this ends well. By this, I mean the debt/spending bloat/entitlement snowballing. Because, the impression I get is even this doesnt seem to have changed anything.

    Indeed, nothing has changed.

    Reality remains:

    no-one with the power to make anything stick in the USA has an interest in making the fundamental changes required to bring spending inside sustainable envelopes that your country could tolerate the taxation to pay for.

    Agreed.

    Everything about your electoral system seems designed to ensure only
    those with an intrest in the status quo, or more importantly, money
    from those with an interest in the status quo, can succeed long term,
    whether that is the unions or Lockheed Martin or corn farmers. Same
    difference frankly.

    Agreed.

    My two cents: the mid game is 1 to 1.5% GDP growth under crushing debt for a decade or two (a Japanese style "lost decade") followed by crisis, followed by political upheavel followed by monetization of the debt.

    As an ancap I'd dearly love the "political upheavel" to be akin to "a great repudiation of Big Government", but it'll most likely be the usual: insiders jockeying for position, government employees and pensioners making out like bandits, and the little guy getting screwed.

  90. Max says:

    As a small business owner who has been asked to feed into my city's innovation plan I'm accused often of being a sell-out by my lefty mates.

    Clark has revealed on another thread he has no idea when the last day for filing tax returns is. He is on a wage. Not a business owner. Personally, I know to the second the date in the UK.

    Us chaps who create wealth rather than just talk hypothetically about it are very aware of the the context government creates.

    Most fellow start-ups from my UK city approve of government if not the specific one we have. Ayn Rand fan. singular, from a start-up said 'OK, actually you are right, she does sound like a dick head now you tell me that'.

    'Socailism' is great if it just spreads the wealth fairly. Trust me, start-ups in their initial stages do not pay their CEOs well. I get less than some of my staff.