In March, I went to the National Archives in Maryland, just outside DC, to do some research on the official national income statistics of the United States from the 1930s-1970s. In the middle of my one week visit, DC was threatened with a massive snowstorm, which led to the humorously named “Snowquester” where government offices were closed and employees told to work from home. The snow didn’t materialize, and for some reason the Smithsonian museums were open even though the Archives were closed, so I spent the day wandering the Mall. Fortunately, I had enough time on the following days to catch up on my boxes and make through the records I was searching.
I know it’s not the most important government function that’s going to be undone tomorrow, but my heart goes out to all my fellow graduate students trying to write dissertations at the various federally-run archives right now. Good luck.
For excellent coverage of the shutdown itself, I recommend these two articles. Read them back-to-back.
First, Slate asks how the shutdown would be covered if the US were other people in If It Happened There … the Government Shutdown:
WASHINGTON, United States—The typical signs of state failure aren’t evident on the streets of this sleepy capital city. Beret-wearing colonels have not yet taken to the airwaves to declare martial law. Money-changers are not yet buying stacks of useless greenbacks on the street.
But the pleasant autumn weather disguises a government teetering on the brink. Because, at midnight Monday night, the government of this intensely proud and nationalistic people will shut down, a drastic sign of political dysfunction in this moribund republic.
Second, the BBC covers the shutdown like it is actually happening to other people, in US shutdown has other nations confused and concerned:
For most of the world, a government shutdown is very bad news – the result of revolution, invasion or disaster. Even in the middle of its ongoing civil war, the Syrian government has continued to pay its bills and workers’ wages.
For leaders of one of the most powerful nations on earth to willingly provoke a crisis that threatens to suspend public services and decrease economic growth, then, is astonishing to many. American policymakers “are facing the unthinkable prospect of shutting down the government as they squabble over the inconsequential accomplishment of a 10-week funding extension”, Mexico’s The News writes in an editorial.
May the shut down be short, and the final budget stripped of nonsense like cutting food stamps. This country…
In other, completely unrelated news, happy 100th birthday to the US Federal Income Tax. And happy first birthday to the Obamacare exchanges.