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Shutting Down the Forest, But Not the Trees

It is with both wide-eyed interest and pit-of-stomach disgust that Americans have watched the political shenanigans and subsequent impact played out during the U.S. government shut down. 

The whole strategy is reminiscent of watching a person trying to cut corners actually create a lot more work for himself. You see this with toddlers, lazy employees and particularly teenagers. Consider the 14-year old tasked with unloading the dishwasher before he can meet up with his friends. In his haste, he stacks as many dishes as possible in his arms and, en route to the appropriate cabinet, accidentally drops them all. The ensuing crash assures that he will have a far greater and time-consuming mess to clean up, not to mention the backlash from his parents and the cost to restore the kitchenware.

 

Likewise, the congressional effort to negotiate reducing the national budget and deficit by shutting down government agencies appeared to have backfired in many ways. Some public agencies (not to mention private companies) have lost much-needed revenues that help keep government costs down.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Cost of the Shutdown in National Parks: $76 Million a Day,” at the Washington Times, Oct. 11, 2013.]

And then there’s the ambiguity around which services were shut down, which were not…and why?

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Who works and who doesn’t: The law behind the government shutdown,” at NBC Politics, Oct. 10, 2013.] 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Government shutdown definition of essential vs. nonessential funding,” at ABC15.com, Oct. 11, 2013.]

Furthermore, all government furloughs related to the shutdown have now been recalled. One congressman remarked that since most federal employees would likely be paid for their mandatory time off, not calling them back to work was like giving them an “extended taxpayer-subsidized vacation.”

Calling back furloughed workers and reopening certain agencies tends to cast a shadow on the strategy of threatening to shut down the government in the first place. After all, if the threat is empty, how powerful or effective can it be? Think about that teenager, and the parents who threaten to take away his cell phone — knowing full well they can’t because it’s their only means of keeping tabs on the teenager.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Agencies increasingly calling back furloughed workers,” at the Washington Post, Oct. 10, 2013.]

Finally, it’s worth noting the vast number of funding bills proposed as a stop gap during the government shutdown. In other words, the flurry of “busy work” Congress created for itself instead of working on the longer-term issues. These included the Border Security and Enforcement Continuing Appropriations Resolution, the Federal worker pay fairness bill, the National Nuclear Security Continuing Appropriations Resolution and Military Chaplains Continuing Appropriations Resolution, among many others.

[CLICK HERE to access the latest bills and proposals of the United States Congress, Oct. 11, 2013.]

In some ways it’s just plain human nature to do something detrimental on a short-term basis in an effort to achieve a long-term goal — or out of simple frustration. Often enough, those efforts cause us to “cut off the nose to spite the face.” What we see played out on the national front may well occur in our own households, in the form of spending money frivolously now that we may need in the future. If you’d like help getting more of your current income working harder to achieve longer-term goals, we’re here to help.

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The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.  

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