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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Opinion

Annual threat of federal shutdown looming closer


The federal government might shut down Tuesday. It also might not. That’s how unorganized we are: postponing the date of our inevitable demise has become a burden in itself, so much that the most feasible solutions to eradicating the problem are being rejected out of hand.

Early Sunday morning, the House approved a bill to keep the White House pushing past Monday. After amendments from Ted Cruz and his GOP death squad, the bill all but dissipated in the Democratic Senate. That’s like conceiving a solution to an impossible problem, just to end up disagreeing on the size of the font.

It’s not the first time it’s happened. The excuse, more often than not, is that the routes of least resistance are too much of whatever: be it too red, too blue, too much of both, or not enough of either.

There’s no real criterion. Rejection’s become reflexive. It’s a bit like how you might cover your mouth when you sneeze at the table, or shout “excuse me” when it’s the person sitting next to you. It’s taken a long time to get here, because you don’t happenstance your way into $16 trillion of debt. In fact, if you were to start counting today, you wouldn’t reach 16 trillion in this lifetime.

This isn’t a piece about avoiding the shutdown, or how we got there.

What a lot of people don’t know is what the shutdown might actually entail. When the government shuts down, public recreation services close along with it. That includes zoos, museums and all 369 national service parks in our country’s borders. Federal employees seek furlough, military employees seek checks, and we’ll still be paying taxes. The Postal Service keeps moving, Social Security will probably issue installments, and if you were in the business of looking for a loan, well, you might want to catch up on Netflix.

The biggest dig, though, is on the American psyche itself: we’re the largest economy in the world. If we can’t pay our bills as a unit, what’ll it mean when the hat’s been passed to our generation?

Quite a lot, actually. If you’re smart, you’ll keep your piggy bank on deck.

Senior staff columnist Bryan Washington is an English junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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