Weekly Roundup: Their Shutdown Vs. Our Shutdown Edition

Are you tired of the shutdown yet? Were you shocked by the stories of criminal off-roaders in Joshua Tree National Park? Are you terrified at the prospect of FDA inspectors failing to report to their posts? Do you have sympathy for the men and women of the TSA, who are expected to continue groping and harassing travelers despite not receiving a regular paycheck? Perhaps, like me, you know people who are currently facing an unexpected shortage of funds at a time of year when bills loom large anyway; while I don’t currently count any Feds among my circle of friends, I have an ex-girlfriend somewhere out there who probably still works for the FBI and who at this very moment might be contemplating what she’ll be liquidating to pay her mortgage. For that reason alone, I’d like to see this bit of political theater come to an end.

Despite that, however, I think it’s useful to have a situation like this every once in a while. It shines a light on the cockroaches of our American uniparty, which pontificates on both sides about abortion and gun control while tirelessly working behind the scenes on its true goal: transferring wealth from the productive sector to the political sector. Take a look at this list of the wealthiest counties in America. There are just two working-class Midwest entries in the top twenty: Tennessee’s Williamson County, home of the lady once known to my readers as Drama McHourglass, and Ohio’s Delaware County, home of your humble author. The rest of them are either vacation destinations or centers of government. I would also direct your attention to the fall of Oakland County, MI from 7th in the 2010 census to… somewhere in the 2016 survey. That’s what happens when we move from a manufacturing economy to a so-called “FIRE” economy.

It’s also instructive to see how the media reports on the shutdowns. When a Democratic president is in power, it’s the fault of Congress. When a Republican president is in power, it is the fault of the President. To some degree, the media is correct about this; as the Washington Generals of American politics, the Republicans are expected to put up just enough token resistance to legitimize the continued expansion of the American government and its spending habit. Without the Republicans, the uniparty nature of this country would be offensively apparent. Permitting the existence of a Mitt Romney or two continues the fiction that there has been an honest debate on the merits of whatever our Illuminati want to happen next. If you want a real sense of just narrow the uniparty’s Overton window in on the subject of American governance, consider the fact that something like 60% of America is now comfortable using the word “Nazi” to describe Donald Trump, a lifelong Democratic donor who danced with a rainbow flag at his rallies and whose “Nazi” stance on immigration is not that we need to stop it, or that we need to stop increasing the rate at which immigrants enter the country, but that we need to stop increasing the rate of increase in the rate at which immigrants enter the country.

Even I am not immune to the effects of media presentation when it comes to the shutdown. In fact, it took a particularly insightful comment on another blog to set me straight on the matter.

On Vox Day’s site, commenter tz wrote

The difference is the Government will reopen. It is mostly open. When the plant closes and moves to Mexico or China, it will never reopen.
.
I have zero sympathy. The swamp is getting a SMALL dose of what flyover country has been getting for the last few decades.

My God, he’s right, isn’t he? Here in the Midwest, we’ve been seeing “shutdowns” for thirty years now. Not the kind of temporary shutdown where you get your back pay after the fact, but the kind of shutdown that destroys families, causes suicides, and devastates towns. And where’s the media outrage? Where’s the pressure on the President to resolve the situation? What do our talking heads think about the utter destruction of our working class?

When General Motors announced that Lordstown would be yet another casualty of their “lost weekend” love affair with China, Trump criticized the closure and the media of record just lost their minds about it. HOW DARE HE tell a private company like General Motors how to handle its affairs? Our uniparty combines the moral sense of Aleister Crowley with the fiscal opinions of Scrooge McDuck. It is a tragedy of unparalleled proportions when the TSA has delayed paychecks — but the disappearance of multiple American airplane manufacturers under pressure from the subsidized colossus of Airbus barely rates a back-page mention in the “Money” section.

Perhaps the best way to look at the shutdown is this: We have a ruling class in this country, and it is the political class. They don’t get fired, they don’t get laid off, their plants don’t close. They have guaranteed tenure and guaranteed raises and guaranteed pensions. Their lives are not like yours or mine, subject to the whim of the market or the decisions of an “at will” employer. They can do things like take out a 20-year-loan to buy a Cessna, knowing that their incomes will always rise ahead on inflation and their jobs will never disappear. They can even join unions which then campaign on behalf of the candidates who will promise to pay them more in exchange for their votes.

There’s just one little catch: Every five or ten years, they will have their paychecks delayed briefly. That’s it. And they can rest assured that the media will work night and day on their behalf to make that period of delay as short as possible. Consider my ex-girlfriend from the FBI: She has, as far as I know, about two and a half months in the last fifteen years where her regular check was at risk. In that same time, I’ve worked thirteen full-time contracts and hundreds of freelance gigs. Several times during this period I’ve spent more than a month receiving no income at all because my contracting company, or my client, decided on a whim to move a date or cancel a commitment. At no point did I ever receive back pay from those times. My benefits did not continue during those times. Nobody attempted to pass legislation guaranteeing me a check during those times. I was simply subject to the invisible hand of the free market.

I hope that our federal overlords will look at this “shutdown” as a brief, mostly painless window into the lives of ordinary Americans. I hope that they will consider the mild pain they suffered the next time they vote on yet another larcenous trade deal or fiscal policy. I hope they will understand my human frailty more because they have tasted a tiny bit of it themselves — but I know that these hopes are, for the most part, in vain. The shutdown will end, and the Feds will be paid. The rest of us, as always, will have to suffer whatever comes next.

* * *

At R&T I evaluated some rental cars. My print piece on the M2 and Camaro also appeared online.

For Bicycling, I covered a selection of BMX bikes and frames.

67 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: Their Shutdown Vs. Our Shutdown Edition”

      • AvatarVicMik

        Can you manage a bloated IT contract while supervising a department staffed with white-collar-welfare gov’t workers?

        Then we have a $150k/year GS-15 position for you. It’s a gravy train with biscuit wheels!

        Can’t promise that you will be proud of your work. Any marketable skills you have will be dulled in the process once we get enough gov’t stink on you to ruin your employability beyond the Beltway area.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          At the risk of sounding both arrogant and pathetic… I couldn’t take a single race start in a year where I made $150k as my sole source of income in NoVa. NOW If I could take that job, still keep my low cost housing in Ohio, and dip out 45 days a year to freelance… all I ask is that you stamp the Mark Of The Beast somewhere it doesn’t clash with my bronze Tudor.

          Reply
          • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

            Move every federal agency, save for Defense and Treasury, to somewhere in flyover country. Spread the largesse around. Will the bureaucrats want to live in Peoria and Fargo?

          • AvatarDisinterested-Observer

            @Ronnie

            That’s one thing I don’t get, although I suspect it has to do with the duopoly: why don’t these crooks bring any real pork back to their home states? Why aren’t any of the agencies based in Chicago or Dallas at least? The agencies should maybe have a liaison office near Capitol Hill, but the HQs should be anywhere but DC. On top of all the other ill effects it has on the rest of the country, it is bad for the actual city. They lose out on a great deal of property tax revenue and face massive interference from people who don’t “reside” there, i.e. the 535 and the legions of staffers. Sure local government is bad, but no worse than any other city.

        • AvatarDaniel Sharpe

          This really depend. There are some really smart folks who work hard here for Marshall Space Flight and NASA.

          It’s really all over the map.

          Reply
  1. AvatarDaniel Sharpe

    I live in a city with quite a few furloughed and unpaid employees. What’s even more tragic is contractors won’t get back pay. Its all over the local news.

    Oh and our citys subreddit, filled with mostly liberals, has turned into a dumb.

    I have problems with all of it. Pelosi and the Dems are all of a sudden concerned with waste? Really? And Dems are the biggest proponent of “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” when it came to ACA. Is that what’s going on with the wall? It’s not a perfect solution.

    On the other hand Trump is throwing much of his base under the bus as many voted for him who work for the government or are contractors. I know our Republican senators and Representatives are getting heat from those who voted for them but now are not getting paid. And of course the economy is hurting. Its already cost the economy several billion dollars.

    Gotta give Trump credit for trying to fufill campaign promises.

    Reply
  2. AvatarDaniel Sharpe

    Jack,

    I understand about layoffs and all that as I worked in private sector up until the last few years. But government contractors will NOT get back pay. Thousands of contractors in my city will go unpaid.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      That makes sense: when I was a contractor for Chase I went unpaid during all of those bank holidays.

      Reply
      • AvatarDaniel Sharpe

        Jack,

        Many of these folks, some really smart in all kinds of engineering, are looking for other jobs here. The government could end up losing some really smart people along with those working with contractors.

        Reply
        • AvatarDaniel Sharpe

          Since I can’t edit,

          When I say contractors, I’m referring to those who work for Boeing, Lockheed, Jacobs….etc on government contracts.

          Many if not most of these contracts are already paid for. But if government employees can’t open the doors at a government facility, then neither can the contractors.

          Reply
  3. Avatarhank chinaski

    The quote, perhaps attributed to Sam Hyde is: “They hate you. They want you dead and your children to starve. They think it’s funny.” Assume that and everything else makes sense.

    If you haven’t, catch the Tucker monologue that’s doing the rounds. He touches on all your points. (heh)

    I think ol’ Nancy is worth $30M. She and Chuckles represent our ruling class, one from finance and the other from Silicon Valley.
    More than a few congresscritters have been caught insider trading based on their own decisions. A bill to put that to an end was promptly squashed by same critters.

    Trump tweeted support for H1Bs this week, something he openly ran against, perhaps in an attempt to cut a deal with his own party for the ‘barrier’.

    I tried to rent a 300 once. It wouldn’t fit our luggage, which IIRC fit in a CTS the prior year. I was stuck with a toaster instead.

    Reply
  4. AvatarOliver Clozeopf.

    I laughed, I cried (mostly at the comments) and wondered a lot why Mexico hasn’t paid for the wall yet.

    Reply
  5. AvatarCJinSD

    It’s amazing how many government employees treat their paychecks like found money. They don’t have any inclination to save it. Why would they? There’s a program and a discount for any non-discretionary expenditure they can ever make, and for most of the discretionary ones too. I have many friends that are government contractors who have disrupted incomes. Most of them are only concerned that the shut down isn’t in vain, and that the globalists don’t get their desired electorate. The only ones who are griping about the injustice of skipped payments from the taxpayers are women who will get their missing blood money when the shut down ends. They’ve already spent it all, so their inconveniences are real. Are they less deserving of hardship than the people who are robbed at gunpoint to pay for their inessential labors? I guess it depends on what you think Robin Hood was up to.

    Reply
  6. AvatarJohn C.

    On the Camaro verses M2 comparison. You mention that a mid eighties test of a Michelin clad 325 and a Eagle GT Camaro would have tested out pretty similarly, at lower ultimate levels of performance of course. Then I look at the prices and the Camaro’s advantage is down to under 20% instead of the under 40% advantage from years ago. Given that the BMW is still German made, our German friends have done a remarkable at learning to build to a price. Someone should be writing books on how they did it. Lot of talk in the nineties that the Germans were learning from the Japanese, but that doesn’t seem to go very far in explaining it.

    Reply
    • AvatarCJinSD

      Competition is the answer. During the ’80s, the grey market provided the only competition to the premium West German makes. It was no secret that you could get essentially the same cars in Europe for far less money, a discount more than sufficient to pay for individual federalization. That’s why Mercedes-Benz paid some US politicians to prioritize stopping their West German dealers from competing with their US distributor over our national security. They made huge profits on US market cars then. The price/value equation only started to change because of real competition from Lexus. More recently, they’ve learned to control costs by making their cars out of complete refuse sourced from all over the world. West German cars were remarkably West German in the mid-’80s.

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        I don’t disagree that they have learned to get by on smaller margins. Another factor is also the Euro versus the old Mark. Over time the DM would rise, where has the Euro is flat to down versus the Dollar over the last 15 years.

        It is hard to argue the first Lexus weren’t dumped below cost in the USA. This time the victims of Toyota’s treachery were European. With the simultaneous world wide recession, it was a near death experience for Porsche, Audi, and Jaguar and I am not sure MB was ever the same. BMW really seamed to get to work, the late 90s were a time of better and better 3 and 5 series sold at prices level with a decade before.

        Reply
  7. AvatarMrGreenMan

    The Wall is supposed to be a “medieval solution” that will not work. Pres. Trump has requested $5 Billion to roll the dice.

    If the former were true, and I were a Democrat politician who expected to be considered seriously for president in 2020, I would want to spend $5 Billion to prove Trump’s signature policy was a turd.

    The federal budget is measured in multiple $Trillions; under 1% (which surely is the borrowed part, anyway) to prove the incumbent wrong should have his opponents lined up out the door.

    Reply
    • AvatarMarkXJR

      +1 !!!
      Give the guy a “carte blanche”, let him implement every wild arse idea in his head and then let the electorate decide if they really want four more years of that! Very simple solution IMO

      Reply
  8. AvatarRonnie Schreiber

    I find it interesting that when Democrats unilaterally shut down government functions, when their public employee unions suspend police or fire protection, or garbage collection, or teaching in the public schools, it is called a “labor dispute”, not a government shutdown.

    Reply
  9. AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

    Starting on Sunday, I’ll get to find out how this “shutdown” is affecting air travel as I have a total of 6 flights scheduled for the next 8 days. And a couple of those flights are at major airports that are notorious for delays and long security waits. I can’t wait (insert eyes rolling emoji here).

    As for those poor, poor federal employee’s having to go without? Cry me a friggin river. If you are unable to put away a few bucks for lean times, given the salary and benefit they receive, I have zero sympathy. Yes, it isn’t easy at times, yes it might require you to forego buying a second new M-B S550 or even postpone the purchase of that 70″ smart TV, maybe even cook your own supper. My parents drilled into my head that you should have at least 3 months salary stashed for “hard times”. In years past I’m glad I listened to at least that much of their teachings. When we first started our business, there were times when I and my partner would go 6-8 weeks without drawing out money so there was operating capital and sufficient funds to cover empoyee’s pay, while waiting for some “slow paying” accounts to pay up.

    A friend sent me a meme the other day that pretty much summed it up; So you got your paycheck and taxes were still taken out. I guess the “shut down” isn’t really a shut down then is it?

    Reply
      • Avatarrwb

        When dissent within the echo chamber is met with a scream-cry of hyperbole and platitudes, it isn’t really worth the time or effort.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          Speaking the truth has a virtue of its own even if is met with silence. And I would rather have all viewpoints represented. As I’ve said before, I’m from a generation of liberals that didn’t believe in “no-platforming”.

          Reply
  10. Avatar-Nate

    And, the B.S. rolls on endlessly .

    Some of they snowflakes here should actually _check_ what most federal employees make, it’s crap, I made better in an indie hole in the wall shop .

    Screw federal jobs, no way Jose’ .

    If congress et. al ever had to deal with any of the fees and daily things the average American citizen does, things would get better very quickly indeed .

    -Nate

    Reply
      • Avatarrnc

        Averages can be a dangerous thing to play with, remove the top 5% earners and that number will look a whole lot different. Same is true for all of the per capita measures (put Bill Gates and 70,000 homeless people in a room together and on AVERAGE everyone in there is a millionaire).

        Reply
          • Avatarrnc

            I looked at the average salaries? My comment holds true, remove the top 5% and those numbers will drop significantly (P.S. I used to audit county governments). It also doesn’t say if those averages are averages of the ranges or the actual, i.e. accountant 4 might have a range of $40k-$85k, $40 is what they start you at, $85 is where you would be if you stayed in the same job for 35 years and is the max you could make in that position, which doesn’t happen very often.

            My response was to back up Nate’s comment that the average government employee isn’t living the high life, rolling fat stacks.

          • AvatarCJinSD

            The private sector looks pretty impoverished when you give the top 5% a haircut too. I guess that doesn’t serve the narrative in this context though.

          • Avatarrambo furum

            Oddly, about 2/3 of the listed federal employees for the position “accountant” make over this allegedly unobtainium $85k/yr salary. Were I feeling snarky, I could make assumptions based on their names, but that might be mean.

  11. AvatarWidgetsltd

    What ever happened to Mexico paying for the wall? That was a guaranteed applause line in Trump’s campaign rallies. People seem to have a memory hole about the “who’s paying for it” part.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I think the official line on that is that the NAFTA renegotiation paid for it twenty times over. Which will not satisfy anyone who expected Vicente Fox to write a check.

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        Senor Fox should concentrate his check writing on a Catholic Priest who still sells indulgences. The sin of promoting drug use, as if that is what his country needs more of, destroys whatever chips he banked by becoming the leader of his country. Are you listening Speaker Boehner?

        Reply
  12. Avatarhank chinaski

    Another ‘official’ line, insomuch as it was in writing in a list of campaign promises on his website during the election (along with reinstating Glass-Steagall, lol) was a remittance tax. His supporter-critics keep reminding him, but The Donald has gone mum on the subject.

    Reply
    • AvatarCJinSD

      Those remittances pay for the New York Times’ propaganda. There is no way that the last living Democrat traitor will let them be touched.

      Reply
      • AvatarDisinterested-Observer

        Is a remittance an export? I’m honestly asking. Assuming labor for work in collars blue and white occurred in the US, does it matter where the person doing the labor came from as far as exporting the employees’ wages? It seems like the company paying the employee would have to export the fruits of the labor for that to apply. How that company going to export a carwash that happened in Salt Lake City to the country of origin of the people who washed the car?

        Reply
        • AvatarTyGuy

          I’m not sure… I would assume that would be one of many challenges. Taxing money on exit is something other countries do practice. It is probably not something that could fly here party as it wouldn’t be possible to separate out remittances from regular commerce transfers. Your suggestion of forcing employers of illegals to collect the tax when paying wages, would essentially legalize employing illegals. I could see a program like that, but it would be yet another amnesty.

          Reply
  13. Avatarsafe as milk

    it’s true that trump said mexico would pay. i also remember obama telling me i. could keep my old insurance plan and doctor. nope. the ny times recently wrote that obamacare premiums have stablized. mine went up 25% for 2019. honestly, i don’t think trump lies any more than the rest of them.

    as to the shutdown, if they hadn’t told me, i wouldn’t have noticed.

    they only person the fear more than trump is tulsi gabbard.

    Reply
  14. Avatarstingray65

    The feds are getting a paid vacation since they will get all the backpay they missed when the government “reopens”, but they won’t have to make up the missed time. I think Trump should test some executive power and declare a budget emergency that requires shutting down entirely and permanently the Dept. of Education, EPA, Dept. of Energy, Homeland Security, Department of Veterans Affairs, Dept of Agriculture, HUD, and FBI, which are all worthless and won’t be missed by 99% of the US public. 99% of all the laid off federal employees are also Democrat swamp creatures, so it won’t hurt rump’s base at all.

    Reply
    • AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

      Why do you want to force all those mindless drones out into the workforce? (sarcasm)

      There are probably only 3 out of 100 that have any usable skills out here in the real world. Which would explain how they came to be sucking on the government teat in the first place. While I would LOVE to see most all of these useless departments go the way of rotary dial phones, it ain’t gonna happen because unions. The first step is going to have to be removing the congress critters that thrive on that type of bureaucracy in the first place. And that ain’t gonna happen because “Every one of those Representatives is a useless POS, except for ours, he does a good job”.

      Reply
  15. Avatarltrftc

    “I hope that our federal overlords will look at this “shutdown” as a brief, mostly painless window into the lives of ordinary Americans.” – well said.

    Reply
    • Avatarltrftc

      Quick question, I’m going to Portland and Seattle in the coming weeks. Any guitar stores you recommend that I check out to find ways to needlessly buy stuff I don’t need?

      Reply
      • AvatarCJinSD

        Seattle and Portland? Bring a brick instead of a credit card! The cops will leave you alone if you smell like a Marxist.

        Reply
  16. Avatarrnc

    So one thought that I always go back to (and I was only 17 so didn’t get to vote), how different would our country look now if Ross Perot had been elected president in 92’….Thoughts? And I do remember the establishment on both sides were terrified of that happening.

    Reply
  17. AvatarRick T.

    Hard to disagree with anything you’ve written here, especially about the flyover people giving a flying f**k about government employees having a couple of delayed paychecks.

    Oh, and yea Williamson County and congratulations to Chattanooga and Spring Hill as well. A very good start to the new year.

    Reply
  18. AvatarCrancast

    1. Given the impending announcement, thought this might be the end of RSG with the shutdown headline.

    2. Government contractors will not see a penny post-shutdown, well most anyways. A bill or two will be brought forward to pay them but will not pass per past precedent. Certainly impacts the DC region the most, but there are regional centers/local economies all across the country impacted. The Federal Government outsources seemingly more than they keep in house, functions many would think could not, cannot possibly be outsourced. Edward Snowden was a contractor. Not debating mind you, they will still have a job at some point. But the impact to the economy will have a Reagan-ish reverse trickle down, yes even in the fly-over states.

    3. The story behind the story, M2 vs Camaro. How does a piece like that even come to be? Two press cars in the lot, would make a great cover picture, go figure something out! Pitched an idea? Seriously, I am curious.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      2. Well, that’s part of what I’m getting at — the contractors, as well, are getting a small taste of what private contractors face all the time. I spent six weeks out of work this year on the whim of my client “boss” — I hated it but I know that’s part of the deal. Will these contractors go six weeks without pay?

      3. I’m not sure — R&T called me and asked me to do it. The cars were definitely not just “in the lot”, it took quite a bit of effort to set the thing up.

      Reply
  19. AvatarTomko

    “Reaching even the velvet inner edge of the Chevrolet’s limits on public roads feels uncomfortably like flying an SR-71 inside a high-school gymnasium.“

    Love this analogy.

    Reply
  20. AvatarDanio

    Thanks for the link to your rental car article. It’s of particular coincidence that I recently became in need of another daily driver for the household. The value of the Charger/300 in the used market simply can’t be beat.

    Yesterday, I picked up a 2017 Chrysler 300S Alloy Edition in Maximum Steel (that blue/grey color) with 36,000kms (22,500 miles for those who don’t care to do the conversion) for $22k flat, OTD. That’s $16,541 USD. Shit, I should probably flip it into the US since it’s an ex-rental with Can-Am warranty.

    After the first couple years, the rental returns wash into the horizon and depreciation really settles down on these. After running the numbers over and over, I couldn’t justify anything else.

    Reply
  21. AvatarDirt Roads

    *sigh* So easy for people not affected by the shutdown to say it’s no big deal. Until you start missing paychecks that you counted on. Even with savings, this is a hard hit to my household. Unless you’re in it, you don’t get it. Not all government workers are sloths who couldn’t make it in industry. I’ve been in my industry for 40 years, the first 30 in the trenches and successful. When it came time to choose government work, I was “finally” qualified, even though I didn’t have military preference.
    This sucks, in real ways. Don’t minimize it if you’re not living it.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      In September, JPMorganChase canceled my contract with them because I didn’t pick up the phone for a “tiger team” call. Because I was in a race car. On a Sunday. I lost six weeks’ worth of income. With no notice. And no chance of repayment. And it’s not the first time something like this happened. So yes, I know what you’re going through. Only for private citizens it is far worse.

      Reply
      • AvatarDirt Roads

        Point is, I am a private citizen too. I happen to serve the public in a regulatory environment. I have a family and responsibilities like anyone else. Some of the comments here seem to say those government workers, slopping at the trough, are too lazy to work in the real world. They don’t do anything, let em suffer. We didn’t all start out that way. We put in our private industry work and got screwed there too.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          I hear what you are saying — but to people who work every day in “at-will” and contract jobs, the so-called plight of these government employees, even the contractors, does not generate much empathy. Not because the government employees are bad people, but because this every-eight-years-or-so experience is much like the every-day experience of people in the private sector.

          If someone told me that I could make the same amount of money I make now working for the government, but that once every couple of years I might be furloughed for up to six weeks, I would consider it an improvement on the way I’ve lived since 1998.

          To some degree, we are having this discussion:

          Reply

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