The Great Shutdown of 2011 seems to be upon us like a plague of freshmen upon a beer party and Howard Gleckman, as wise a vizier as Jafar, who advised the idiot potentate in the Disney film Aladdin (which is quite good, run don't walk to watch it now!), sees darkness visible:
"A shutdown can be, depending on whose exempted or not, pretty significant to all of our lives, absolutely," said Howard Gleckman, a resident fellow at the Urban Institute. "People don't think about how much it is that the government does for them. There would be no planes if it weren't for TSA and air traffic controllers. And as far as Social Security, somebody actually has to run computers to make sure checks run."
Thank gawd for sleeping air traffic controllers, sez I. Is there anything they can't do? As a matter of fact, Gleckman is wrong about Social Security checks needing human hands to be processed (though that does sound like a great jobs program). More here.
Meanwhile, former Reagan budget director David Stockman, who spoke at length recently to Reason about his contempt for the welfare-warfare state, does his best Gabrielle Union and says, Bring. It. On.:
"Bring it on," Stockman told me [Daily Beast scribe Lloyd Grove] Thursday morning from his estate in Greenwich, Connecticut—some 40 hours before the midnight Friday deadline that, absent an agreement between President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner, will result in furloughs, federal dysfunction and untold harm to the fragile economy. "I think the Republicans need to stand rigidly firm and shut the government down for a few days. The Obama White House is weak. If the Republicans hold the line, Obama will fold faster than a lawn chair. And the Republicans will get their $60 billion in reductions."…
"And then," Stockman added in a tone of lethal glee, "they're going to be calling their own bluff. Because at that point the problem will remain 98 percent as large as it was the morning before."…
Stockman went on: "The Democrats are not doing anything about their guy either. They should be pounding the table—why aren't we cutting the defense budget by $100 billion a year instead of this embarrassing pinprick [$78 billion over five years] that [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates has come up with? It's unfortunate, but when you bury yourself in $52 trillion of debt—public, private, business, housing and government—you can't make it go away. Because all the people who loaned you that money think they have a contract with you to pay it back. So we're going to go through a massive workout, and during that process I don't think the economy's going to grow—it's going to struggle and suffer. Those are the facts that Washington is unwilling to face."
More in that jugular vein here. Stockman goes on to call it "baloney" that a shutdown will cause long-term issues to a $15 trillion economy, slags Paul Ryan as "an earnest young man" who isn't seriously contemplating the implications of his own budget analysis, and "The fools inside the Beltway are borrowing $100 billion month in and month out, and there's nobody left in the world buying except the central banks—the Fed and the people's printing press of China." The whole piece is well worth reading.
As I noted yesterday, any dire consequences of a government shutdown are simply not credible. Unless you consider the dread menace of the Post Office staying open and Social Security checks going out and the IRS still processing returns (though only issuing electronic refunds) dire. And there is a case for all that.
Stockman's interview with Reason, where talks about channeling his inner Hayek/Mises/Rothbard, is totally worth reading now. And watching below.