"...the numbers just don't add up"
David M. Walker, Comptroller of the US 1998-2008
US Federal Government Shutdown
I can comprehend the looming presence of a government shutdown. It's the rational consequence of irrational spending without sufficient revenue. There simply isn't enough monopoly money to go around, and legislators don't want to face the necessary cutbacks which will result in a sustainable budget. Each and every year since the 1990s the US government has spent more per year than it generates in tax revenue. Healthy economic growth and inflationary forces diminish the relative debt, while deflation or economic setbacks can lead to catastrophic feedback loops. Fiduciary failure from US leadership has resulted in deficits and bloating debt with each passing year.
The strongest vote is the one we make with our wallets. Dramatic expenditure reduction or massive increases to tax revenue are necessary if we want our national government to continue to exist as we know it. Allowing our federal government to go bankrupt is a strong statement that we believe it's impossible to fix. How did we find ourselves in such a predicament?
“I sincerely believe... that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”
— Thomas Jefferson
The Federal Reserve sells off Treasury bills, issuing debt to access immediate capital. The deficits our federal government run at consistently adds to the US Federal Debt. The income generated from selling off bills is used to prop up the government and keep it running, a titanic mockery of Weekend at Bernies.
The following is a living reminder of the estimated federal debt:
[iframe http://victusfate.github.com/Debt-Clock/ 600 400]
The approximate breakdown of US debt is available live at usdebtclock.org3, linked through the image below. Caution the site is flakey and ties up browsers (Flash based).
The numerical size and rate of growth of US national debt is disturbing. If citizens spent like this in our personal lives, we'd quickly converge on both bankruptcy and poverty. What's even more sickening is what happens when the cash pipes stop flowing.
Elected officials, including Boehner, Reid and Obama, all would be paid during a shutdown, unless Congress changes the law. Soldiers, law enforcement officers and other government employees whose jobs are deemed “essential” would keep working yet wouldn’t get paychecks until the standoff is resolved. (source1)
The government shutdown would result in essential personal continuing to work but without compensation. The most optimistic characterization of this practice is unfree labour, the more sinister label is slavery4.