Journal of the Shutdown: Day 15

I unsealed the bunker and came upstairs to check how civilization is faring without government.

It's worse than I feared – not only is the shutdown is still going on, but without NASA, NOAA and all the rest the weather is unseasonably cold, at least here in my home town.

Back into the bunker.

Winter is coming.

Last 5 posts by Clark

Comments

  1. Florent says

    Clark seems to believe that the government is not working at the moment. Unfortunately this is false: the army is still losing a war in Afghanistan, the police is still ignoring the bill of rights, and the NSA is still spying on your every conversation.

    And when the cops are not busy abusing their powers, they do have an effect on the lack of cannibalism.

  2. Christopher says

    The government has yet to shutdown. This is only a curtailment of services, likely to first harm only those most in need of help.

  3. Sami says

    Also harming those who would otherwise avoid being in need of help. A few days ago I was in the vicinity of Yosemite National Park, where the businesses had just re-opened after evacuating because of the fires. They're trying to recover… and now Yosemite is closed and all the tourists aren't coming.

    In the interim, though, I've met a few people already who are looking forward to getting health insurance for the first time in years/decades/ever, so that's pretty nice.

    Well, nice, and also bizarre, to me, because I'm Australian and am accustomed to living under the dystopian horror of socialised medicine, and therefore the idea of going for years on end without basic medical care despite living in a first-world country is alien and confusing to me. But it's good to see happy people, you know?

  4. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says

    It's always cute when folks who aren't directly affected by the shutdown make these kinds of posts. After all, who really cares if years of work on scientific research projects is lost, medical trials are suspended, or if thousands of people are expected to perform necessary services without being paid?

  5. Joseph Ratliff says

    This whole series by Clark could be turned into a National Geographic special. "Journal of the Shutdown" fits nicely. :)

  6. Steven H. says

    @Dr. Nobel:

    After all, who really cares if years of work on scientific research projects is lost

    I'm curious – did the scientists burn the results of their last few years of work over the shutdown? Or did the sysadmins just delete it to save space on the hard drives?

    Otherwise, looks like things might have been interrupted, but I can't see "lost the last few years of work"….

  7. Al says

    I like this bit. Not quite as good as DPRK_News but then again Patrick got a lot of help from the Cyprus on that one. The only real shame here is that I think it’s a bit ham handed and lets us in on the joke a little too early.

    Clearly what he’s lampooning here is the whole Tea Party/hardcore “Big L” Libertarian narrative that the government shutdown doesn’t matter, since it has had little noticeable effect on the economy as a whole. Reporting that isn’t breathlessly partisan will tell you that the shutdown is costing the economy about a tenth of a percent of the year’s GDP each week so we’d expect the first month or so to have relatively mild effects.

    I hate to engage in speculation and spoilers on a bit in progress like this one but I’d say that it’s pretty clear that as the losses approach one percent and start having a more noticeable effect on the economy that the dispatches are going to become more tranquil and idyllic. It’ll be interesting to see how that transition goes, especially if something really nasty happens like a default or a constitutional crisis.

  8. melK says

    @Steven H:

    did the scientists burn the results of their last few years of work over the shutdown?

    A for-instance, from NPR.org:

    By "off the shelf," Reeves means freezing some embryos and killing an entire line of mice. Reviving a line that has been "frozen down" can take months and cost thousands of dollars, he says.

    Another from NBC.com.

    Those [scientific equipment] shipments have now stopped en route, and likely won't arrive in Antarctica by mid-November as had been scheduled.

    "If we can't get stuff into the field on time, then there is no reason to see it forward," Tulaczyk told LiveScience.

    The team cannot postpone the season and push it forward, because they need a full two-and-a-half months to achieve their goals, and because pushing the season further into February would pose serious safety risks

    Not all research is on computer models. Not all lab equipment can be shut down and stored. The planets spin and tilt, and opportunities that took months to develop are lost.

  9. Erwin says

    …except that…as a rule…for funded grants – work continues. So, most research work is still ongoing. The exceptions are work conducted directly at, eg, NIH.

    –Erwin

  10. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says

    @ Erwin

    So, most research work is still ongoing. The exceptions are work conducted directly at, eg, NIH.

    Yeah, that's precisely the approach I find so grating: The shutdown doesn't matter. The shutdown doesn't really effect any studies. Except the ones that it does. And those really don't matter. Because we've already decided that the shutdown doesn't matter.

  11. HamOnRye says

    @ Dr Nobel Dynamite

    Your cause is truly a concerning one. I think my pinky finger is actually starting to feel a twinge of sympathy.

    On a more serious note, the better question is what is your work doing being funded by the federal government? If it is truly that important the I would say it would be wise to place it outside the capricious nature of partisan politics.

    Also your application of the phrase necessary services. How do you feel your work fits with that phrase?

  12. Dr. Nobel Dynamite says

    @HamOnRye

    Your cause is truly a concerning one. I think my pinky finger is actually starting to feel a twinge of sympathy.

    If you don't care that scientific research is stupidly and needlessly interrupted and years of work lost, then you and I have different values.

    what is your work doing being funded by the federal government?

    How do you feel your work fits with that phrase?

    I don't work for the federal government, so there aren't really answers to your questions.

    Your questions do get to the heart of the approach Clark takes that I find so annoying: you just have a hard time imagining why someone may care about something that doesn't affect him directly and immediately.

  13. Shane says

    @Dr. Nobel Dynamite

    The shutdown doesn't really effect any studies. Except the ones that it does. And those really don't matter.

    Because studies using private funds don't exist. Honestly, that you think the study is important is great, but if I have to pay more in taxes cause it is hard to feed myself then I might think that your priorities are wrong. If you think the study is great and others think the same then you should have no problem getting the money that is necessary to fund it.

  14. Shane says

    @Dr. Nobel Dynamite

    If you don't care that scientific research is stupidly and needlessly interrupted and years of work lost, then you and I have different values.

    Because really everyone should have the same values and those values should be modeled after yours.

    you just have a hard time imagining why someone may care about something that doesn't affect him directly and immediately.

    Can you imagine why a person could care about something that does affect him directly. The government shut down is indeed bad for some, so was when a large chunk of DoD employees were laid off after the cold war. The point is this: do we really need to be spending money this way. The people you are so concerned about are using very public money for very narrow purposes that many gain absolutely no benefit from. How is that fair?

  15. pillsy says

    I could come up with a long list of reasons why I think this series of posts is ridiculous and kinda strawmanny… but that wouldn't change the fact that they're funny as shit and I could kinda use the laugh.

  16. HamOnRye says

    If you don't care that scientific research is stupidly and needlessly interrupted and years of work lost, then you and I have different values.

    You have educated me considerably. I had no idea that this "research" was being recorded via the oral tradition. Might I suggest this wonderful device we call a "hard drive". I hear its the all rage in the private sector.

    Your questions do get to the heart of the approach Clark takes that I find so annoying: you just have a hard time imagining why someone may care about something that doesn't affect him directly and immediately.

    You misunderstand my motives. Ascribing to me the motive that I don't care misses the mark. Quite the contrary, it brings joy to my day, that some of parasites on the federal government dole are feeling some of the pain. We in the private sector deal with it on a daily basis and its called layoffs, a term I am sure is utterly foreign to a government employee.

    Furthermore those employed by the federal government enjoy a level of pay, security, and benefits that far exceeds those in the private sector during a time a hardship for most. What sympathy do think there is for those that live better then those from whom they obtain their wages?

  17. DeeplyRooted says

    The gag was funny up to Day Eight.

    Thing is, the shutdown is hurting lots of families around the country. I know about one military family who has lost pay, daycare, the spouse's work (as a result of lost daycare), and even the local food bank (normally supplied by USDA surplus). This is a disaster for them.

    I realize that empathy for these families won't actually help them, but it may add a wee bit of nuance to one's writing. Although, wait… is "nuance" not what Clark is going for here?

    [Edited to add: I love the new comment-posting features, and I just had to take frivolous advantage of the "oh shit I didn't mean to post that" countdown. Good work, Popehatters.]

  18. Anony Mouse says

    what's the image from?

    Fake trailer at the beginning of Tropic Thunder. It's from the trailer for Scorcher VI: Global Meltdown, but I believe the movie in question is either Scorcher II or Scorcher III.

    Movies within movies within movies!

  19. Florent says

    I know about one military family who has lost pay

    There's a thing that every king/dictator/president for life knows: you never fail to pay the soldiers, or they'll cut your head.

    I keep expecting the martial law to be declared, but so far nothing.

  20. Ahkbar says

    @HamOnRye

    Furthermore those employed by the federal government enjoy a level of pay, security, and benefits that far exceeds those in the private sector during a time a hardship for most. What sympathy do think there is for those that live better then those from whom they obtain their wages?

    I'll agree that public service is attractive for its stability and attractive benefits. But I disagree about pay as a blanket statement, as I can attest that at least scientists and engineers in public service are clearly paid less in public service versus what could be made in private employment given the same education and skills. I suspect that is also the case in many other similar professional fields.

    Last I checked, federal employees paid the same taxes that everyone else does. I think sympathy should be given to anyone who is suffering regardless if you are envious or not.

  21. Al says

    @Shane

    @AI

    IS IT BECAUSE OF YOUR MOTHER THAT YOU CALL ME AI?

    Love to see how your calculate losses related to GDP. Use this formula: GDP = C + I + G + ( X – M )

    Math?!? Why can't I just pull numbers out of my ass like you?

  22. Shane says

    @Al

    And yet you have still not answered the question, but you have managed to insult me. That has got to make things all better, and clearly people will see how much smarter you are than me.

    I will wait while you sharpen your pencil and put on your thinking cap to see if you can dig yourself out of your position.

    Good luck.

  23. Al says

    Dude, just re-read the thread that I linked to if you want to have the same conversation again. I'll assume your cries of "LOL" and "socialist!" are directed at me this time if it makes you feel better.

  24. Shane says

    @Al

    You mad bra?

    Nowhere in that thread did Sinij ever refute my assertion that the money is coming from one place, whether it is spent by the the government or private individuals, it still comes from the same place. If you look at the GDP equation that I linked you will see that government spending is on equal footing as private spending for this very reason.

    And so yes Al if you seem to think that you can prove your assertion by all means do so. You might want to use a calculator it is much better in a debate than insults.

    Still waiting for your math that shows how when government doesn't spend the money it disappears into outer space.

  25. Al says

    @Shane

    Still waiting for your math that shows how when government doesn't spend the money it disappears into outer space.

    People not getting paid, regardless of their employer, means that the money they would have spent does not get spent. Sinij gave up on you after that. I don't blame him.

  26. Shane says

    @Al

    GDP = private consumption + gross investment + government spending + (exports − imports)

    We can ignore (exports and imports for this discussion because it is not at debate)

    private consumption = total consumption + propensity to consume(income – taxes)

    If government spending goes down then private consumption through the propensity to consume(income – taxes) goes up. Because taxes are lower.

    If taxes are not lowered then gross investment goes up because the money held back in taxes is not being used, and is therefore automagicly invested at the federal reserve.

    People not getting paid regardless of their employer, means that the money they would have spent does not get spent.

    And you refuse to see that someone else is getting the money.

    In the private world the reason that someone loses their job is because someone else would do it for cheaper or a productivity gain pushed them out or there was simply a lay off. No matter how you slice it the money that was paid to the employee does not go away into some dark pit, it goes into the coffers of the company or the government. At that point the government or the company will choose to spend it, put it in a mattress or invest it into something else or give it back to the shareholders/taxpayers. But no matter how it is dealt with it still show up in the GDP.

    Your feeling that one person not spending means that the money disappears is wrong.