People, the streets are empty here, in and around D.C.

…sales have slowed, with one exception: Happy hour. People are coming in earlier and staying longer, but often not having dinner.

“It’s increasing happy hour and decreasing dinner,” he said.

He said he had moved happy hour earlier to 3 p.m. from 4 p.m. for anyone showing government identification, and that people were coming in as early as 2 p.m.

And this:

On Tuesday, the City Council gave the mayor emergency authority to issue marriage licenses, because the Marriage Bureau, funded by the federal government, is closed.

That is all from Sabrina Tabernise in the NYT, the article has other interesting points.


Wow, a city of parasites, smitten? Awesome.

Tyler is a big parasite too, he just sucks up hundreds of thousands in taxpayer money to bloviate at a public college.

I hope everyone here can take a moment out of their day to remember The Plight of the Non-Essential Government Worker, who is getting an additional three weeks (and counting!) of vacation for which they will be paid later, and their choice to spend that time day-drinking.

Thanks for bringing their pain to life, Tyler. Do you if there's a GoFundMe we can contribute to?

It's hardly that idyllic. My wife has started me on home repair tasks.

You guys hiring?

I’d absolutely love a 3-week paid time off to fix things around my house.

You'll have to wait to send in your application--the HR people are all furloughed.

I can wait.

Maybe they can move to areas with more job opportunities. Learn to code, welding, maybe pipe fitter in ND for fracking jobs. Isn't that what they told the people in Buffalo and other places with dead industries that weren't coming back? Hope the shutdown continues for 2 years.

I will mention, however, that the bar at the Harris Teeter opens at 10 am. Even then, when I was there at 9:45, the guy cheerfully offered to open it early for me.

You mean the non-essential government contract workers who will never be paid, who according to Reagan free lunch economics are spending twice as much to increase GDP thanks to the cost of government being slashed. Lower government borrowing means more money for them to borrow and spend buying bigger houses, a big boat, an RV, a big truck AND an SUV.

"Reagan!!! BECAUSE!!!!"

There, that's the short, just as informative version.

Remarkable hatred for your fellow citizens, all of them sworn to uphold the constitution.

Have you seen any upholding that oath lately? In most cases, their paycheck directly interferes with somebody's pursuit of happiness.

The Constitution says nothing about the pursuit of happiness, that is the Declaration of Independence. The full quote from Jefferson is 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.'

The Constitution frames things considerably differently - 'We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.'

It is hard to argue that most people in the military who have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution are not providing for the common defence, or that those whose work involves ensuring the upholding of the Federal Meat Inspection Act are not promoting the general welfare of all Americans.

Regarding the common defense, I haven't seen too much defense, much more offense.

While there probably are some federal workers that result in net benefits even after deducting their costs, I don't think that is the general rule.

There are lots of signs they have too much money, evidenced by attempts to increase their power, which also would mean increase the work burden. That would not have happened if they were overworked.

' haven't seen too much defense, much more offense'

Well, the Central and South Americans might have a different experience in the last couple of decades compared to a century ago, back when the U.S. had a War Department.

'I don't think that is the general rule.'

The National Weather Service is so much better than any equivalent in Europe that it is hard to make general rules. But maybe if Europe faced the sort of weather that North America does, it too would have NOAA, and have developed weather satellites that provide high quality weather data.

'There are lots of signs they have too much money'

Except when they don't - the U.S., an Arctic nation, basically no longer has an ice breaker fleet - 'The American icebreaker fleet is in a perilous state, with only two operational polar icebreakers. Equipped with strengthened hulls, they are charged with gathering scientific data, rescuing ships stuck in ice and responding to oil spills in the most remote parts of the globe. They also protect U.S. interests in the vast polar regions, where climate change is melting sea ice — opening the Arctic to new commercial opportunities while also raising military tensions.

Just one of the two U.S. icebreakers — the Polar Star — can break the thickest ice, and it’s 12 years past its expected end of life.'

The contrast to the Russians is interesting, actually, but then, the Russians are generally interested in pushing what they consider their important interests without asking if they could save money instead - 'Russia, in contrast, has invested far more to protect its larger Arctic interests — it has a fleet of about 40 icebreakers and is building more.'

The Japanese and South Koreans are also building ice breakers, interestingly enough - almost as if they think the investment worthwhile.

My dear German speaking American friend, I would gladly trade bureaucrats for some decent nuclear powered icebreakers.

I would also be for less tension in the arctic, perhaps a bridge to nowhere that actually pushes technological boundaries, and is a symbol of cooperation rather than bickering.

The one possible benefit nobody is mentioning, is that the North American and Eurasian electricity grids could be merged, potentially greatly reducing the storage needs of renewable energy, as supply and demand could be averaged out better. It is unclear yo me the magnitude of the transmission losses, but they could be pretty large before they exceed the costs of energy storage.

The Preamble is not operative law. It is prefatory, describing what the ensuing articles do. It is not a blank check for Congress to do anything related to the purposes described therein.

This is so well understood in law, the only reason this dumb notion survives is people being deliberately deceptive or culpably ignorant.

And few who actually do. The vast majority of their jobs have no basis in the Constitution's specified powers for Congress.

The American military currently has a bit less than 1.29 million members - it is extremely hard to argue that their employment has no basis in the Constitution's specified powers for Congress.

The 600,000 employees of the Postal Service are also clearly within Congress's authority, as noted in Article I, Section 8, Clause 7.

And a number of federal employees have nothing to do with Congress, as judiciary and the executive branch employees are properly considered not to be under the specified powers of Congress (clearly, Congress writes the laws and is responsible for appropriations).

Basically, 'few' is simply incorrect. One would have thought that was common knowledge, but this is the MR comments section.

The military are the ones who do.

It is most of the rest: Title 5, not Title 10 and 32, who are not executing lawful powers.

There are 187 federal agencies. Very few have an root in the constitution.

As a lawyer, I too swore to uphold the Constitution, but I hadn't noticed that said oath prevented people from criticizing big law firms.

Every shutdown we do the same thing. We all apply for unemployment. It is enough for us to make ends meet (that includes the vast majority of use who live paycheck to paycheck).

Then we get reimbursed for the shutdown and have to payback the unemployment. And you would not believe the belly aching and complaining we do when forced to do so.

It is not uncommon to find some who have a very difficult time paying the unemployment back because we spent the windfall on other things.

Is the agency that administers unemployment another agreed-upon carve-out from the "shutdown"?

Unemployment is administered by states. So DC residents are the only ones who could be potentially affected.

Wet get unemployment benefits, and yes, most of my staff spends the extra income on things they do not need. One shut down I had two employees go out and by brand new wardrobes because they didn't think they had to pay the UI back. They basically spend their cash on day to day and then use their credit cards for unnecessary purchases knowing they have a big pay check on the horizon.

Nice work if you can get it.

As the Empire collapses around them, people try to drink their sorrows away. Alcohol is the opium of the people.

No, alcohol is the alcohol of the people.

It is a metaphor. Famous communist theorician Karl Marx wrote: "Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo."

I think it has become clear that the abolition of alcohol as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness.

These days, Fentanyl is the opioid of the people. Careful with the dosing, though....

Then follows that the abolition of Fentanyl as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness.

I think the point of Cowen's post is that Trump has concentrated the adverse effects of the shutdown in the DC area, just as China has concentrated its tariffs in the heartland. I do unto those who do unto me.

Last I checked China is not located in Washington DC.

I was at an airport recently. It was business as usual. I think the press just invents a lot of their stories.

>I think the press just invents a lot of their stories.

Well, yes. It's a lot cheaper, and they are guaranteed to be able to push the narrative they want, without reality interfering. Win-win.

Yeah... the shutdown has certainly not affected traffic much around the DC area.

Why is the federal government funding the DC marriage bureau?

Because of Article One, Section Eight of the U.S. Constitution.

DC collects its own local taxes and has "Home Rule" [subject to congressional oversight]. We don't fund all their government functions so why this one?

D.C. collects taxes for some functions, but not the marriage bureau. I'm going to guess that its because this a function a county government would perform. It seems the city government can fund the bureau, but it takes special legislation.

You realize its a rhetoricha question. IDK about the reason, its not a proper way to spend US tax dollars.

'its not a proper way to spend US tax dollars'

You may find it improper, but it is completely constitutional, as the District of Columbia is explicitly federal territory controlled by Congress.

The amusing thing is that the citizens of the District of Columbia have exactly zero constitutional say in any decisions made by Congress, as residents of DC are still explicitly forbidden from being able to vote for their own Congress members. Admittedly, since 1961 and the passing of the Twenty-third Amendment, DC residents can vote for the president and vice president of the United States of America.

If you wish to grant DC statehood, you might just be able to make the case that U.S. tax dollars should not be spent the way you find improper.

It will only take a constitution amendment involving Article I, Section 8 to make it happen. Plus DC following the process to be admitted to the United States of America as a state.

That's because it's just supposed to be the seat of government, where citizen-representatives locate temporarily. D.C. metro could be easily ceded to the surrounding States. For that matter, the Departments could be located around the country. There's no need for the Departments of Education, Agriculture, Commerce, Transportation, Labor, Energy, or HUD to be in D.C.

'That's because it's just supposed to be the seat of government'

Of course - there is an actual reason why the Constitution provides Congress exclusive powers, without having the citizens of DC be able to have congressional representation. It is also the reason why DC, an exclusive federal district receives only federal funds or those local taxes that Congress permits.

'D.C. metro could be easily ceded to the surrounding States.'

Well, if a Constitutional amendment is easy, sure.

The Constitution set a maximum size for DC, but no minimum. Retrocession of the Virginia portion of the original district was accomplished without a Constitutional amendment, and the same is true for the remaining Maryland portion. Of course, Maryland doesn't want it, which might be a problem.

'Retrocession of the Virginia portion of the original district was accomplished without a Constitutional amendment'

True enough - but it was also because Alexandria was interested in ensuring it could continue to be a slave trading port, and Virginia was more than willing to take back its portion. These couple of reasons played a major role also - 'Transfer to the District of Columbia meant that residents in Alexandria lost their Virginia citizenship. Starting with the election of 1802, Alexandrians were not allowed to vote for members of Congress, or for president starting in 1804. Elections for town government did continue, and Congress issued Alexandria a new town charter in 1804.'


'In the Virginia portion of the District of Columbia, Congress was prohibited from erecting public buildings. In compliance with the Residence Act, all Federal facilities were constructed north of the Potomac River. In 1826, Congress relaxed its limits and did fund construction of a jail in Alexandria County. It was not until 1932 that the Federal government constructed its first building in Arlington, the post office at Clarendon.'

Basically, the former Virginians, having lost a number of rights and privileges of being citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia, worked hard to restore their former citizenship, and were able to convince Congress to restore those former rights.

'Maryland doesn't want it'

And thus Congress cannot shrink DC without basically granting DC statehood.

And thus Congress cannot shrink DC without basically granting DC statehood.

The term 'thus' isn't meant to be an introduction to a non sequitur.

That's because it's just supposed to be the seat of government, where citizen-representatives locate temporarily.

About 20% of the working population in the Washington commuter belt consists of federal employees. Most people who live around Washington are distributed among economic sectors you see just about anywhere. Extractive industries and agriculture aren't present, of course, and there is little manufacturing. Everything else there, though.

What you'd call 'political Washington' - elected officials, political aides, discretionary federal employees, judges and their clerks, lobbyists, lawyers in firms with a 'government relations' practice; the staffs of political parties, political consultancies, advertising and public relations agencies, and advocacy groups; foreign diplomats and associated personnel; and the reporters and editors who cover these characters - amounts to a low-single-digit share of the local working population.

Why is there a marriage bureau in the first place? What business is it of the government to administer the relationship between two individuals? That's the silliest aspect of the gay marriage manufactured controversy. Heterosexual couples have happily skipped the government endorsement of their bonds and simply moved in together. The marriage bureau is a government remnant of religious control that serves as an unharvested field for inept lawyers.

"Why is there a marriage bureau in the first place? "

That's the better question. Marriage licenses seem to be a ridiculous requirement.

There's a good reason for keeping records--marriage affects next of kin and certain rights, such as custody of children, which routinely come up in court. That is in fact why the Church got involved in marriages in the first place (I typically use "Church" to refer to the Catholic institution in operation in the Middle Ages; I am not a Catholic, but this is the way all the books on the Middle Ages deal with it). At the time, marriages were legal if two people said they were wed; some areas required ritual verbiage, and some required one witness, but largely it was accepted that if two people said "I take thee to wed" they were married. This created a nightmare, because people lie. They claim to be wed when they aren't, and they claim not to be wed when they are. In the Middle Ages this created a huge problem, one solved by having the Church maintain records of who was married to whom. (Note that the Church recorded the marriage, and blessed the marriage, but at the time marriages were very much viewed as a civil, not religious, institution--the religious view was that marriage was the best of the worst options.)

In modern times, we're all literate so we can keep our own records. I can still see the government having a legitimate reason for wanting records of marriages (if they find a dead body they need to know who to contact). But that could easily be handled by the Census Bureau.

I agree that the government keeping track of marriage records would be useful and reasonable. Similar to the government keeping track of property records. But it shouldn't be a "permit", just a record.

I fully agree. The way I would prefer is for there to be a file in the county courthouse with signed marriage contracts, and another with some off-the-shelf, "sign here" type contracts, in case drafting a contract takes the joy out of the occasion somehow. You want a different one? Have at it. Leave it up to the people actually involved to figure out what their lives will be like.

It's 90 percent about benefits (Social Security, survivor pensions, etc.) and 10 percent about "no I can't let you see those medical records oh wait you're the spouse okay here you go."

The usual justification. A marriage license wouldn't necessarily be needed to achieve any of those things. A marriage contract would work just as well, probably better.

Because marriage is a package of contracts good in every state.

I agree that the government could be removed from the process and individual contracts enforced.

The District of Columbia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the US Congress. It was given "self-rule" decades ago to provide a buffer between the usual municipal/urban corruption of "city hall" and Congress, while ensure the proceeds still ended up in Congressional campaigns.

It's called a 'day fade'.

I keep reading articles about how X isn't getting done because of the shutdown. It's often just some bureaucratic paperwork and stamp of approval that is holding things up.

The first thought is, "I never would have imagined the feds had a finger in X." And then you have to think, "Why in the hack is federal government even involved in X?"

Every government will be involved in everything it can. (Not saying that's good or bad... just a fact.)

“It’s increasing happy hour and decreasing dinner”

So much for Dry January...if govt employees believed in such a thing.

Why only 3 pm? Federal employees don't work at all on Fridays. I'd start at 10 am; cultivate a crew of real drunkards to pad my bottom line.

Many agencies are fully funded, and my wife (who works for one such) reports that traffic is near normal. It's far from a ghost town here.

I live and work in northern Virginia. Rush hours may be a touch lighter than normal but there's no huge difference. I haven't canvassed the local shopping centers or bars but regular visits--grocery store, dry cleaners--show no difference whatsoever. Maybe I'll try a restaurant this weekend and see how easy it is to get a seat.

I think this is very local. I live in an area with a couple big federal employers who are shut down, and it's really striking how much less traffic there is when I'm driving my kids to school in the morning. But if you live close to a big not-shut-down agency, you might not notice a lot.

Indeed, the Pentagon is working at normal capacity. Good point.

Personal income per capita in the District of Columbia exceeds that of any other provincial jurisdiction in the country. The quantum of money they should be receiving from the federal government to finance their domestic agencies should approach nil. Same deal for Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.

DC is restricted in what they can collect from Property taxes. So, they have to have some form of other compensation. That being said, they probably rake in far more Federal money than most similar cities do in Property taxes.

'That being said, they probably rake in far more Federal money than most similar cities do in Property taxes'

Nope - DC is only allowed to tax what Congress allows them to tax, and the rate that Congress approves of. If you mean that the 'compensation' the federal district gets is whatever Congress approves of and appropriates, then sure, the amount could be considered in a different light.

Strange - normally, links are the problem.

'That being said, they probably rake in far more Federal money than most similar cities do in Property taxes'

Nope - DC is only allowed to tax what Congress allows them to tax, and the rate that Congress approves of. If you mean that the 'compensation' the federal district gets is whatever Congress approves of and appropriates, then sure, the amount could be considered in a different light.

Possibly a cache delay somewhere along the way.

DC is restricted in what they can collect from Property taxes. So, they have to have some form of other compensation. That being said, they probably rake in far more Federal money than most similar cities do in Property taxes.

DC is governed according to federal statutory law. It's not that difficult to change the law, if anyone cares.

This seems like a good opportunity to do some research on how a surfeit of free time influences subjective wellbeing. Comparing furloughed to non-furloughed government workers is almost as good as a randomized control trial.


I suspect one sideline here is that it's not clear when the furlough will end, so there's some added stress about budgeting. If you have some savings, this shouldn't be too scary, but it's possible the furlough will last months. And while back pay has always happened before, there's no guarantee it will happen this time, so there's always the possibility that you get to the end of your three month vacation and discover it was a three month *unpaid* vacation.

The people really getting screwed over are new hires with little savings, and contractors (the folks who clean the floors and run the cafeteria), who aren't feds and so won't get back pay. They're also a lot less likely to have savings than a higher-value employee who's a fed.

It seems to me, and I'm not just being funny or anything, that the people most opposed to "federal workers" don't what they do. Similarly, the people glib about the loss of "government."

What are the consequences if the people given control over our government have no idea how it works?

The guy is supposedly shutting down the government to protect our borders, and in so doing he is suspending pay for Coast Guard, TSA, and Border Patrol. With no real end-game, other than perhaps to keep collusion off the front page.

"Michael Lewis’s brilliant narrative takes us into the engine rooms of a government under attack by its own leaders. In Agriculture the funding of vital programs like food stamps and school lunches is being slashed."

Let us shed a crocodile tear for government workers who are temporarily interrupted from taking taxpayer money and giving it to welfare queens and illegal aliens.

The interesting thing is that if Republicans and the Trump Administration believed the safety net was "too strong," they had a chance to change it. They controlled the White House as well as the upper and lower Houses of Congress for 2 years.

They could have upheld their role in a constitutional government, and passed a law. They didn't, because they didn't have the boats even within their own party. The same being true for a wall.

I am going to say that if you are really worried about "welfare queens," stopping pay to the Coast Guard is not a real direct way to do it.

Kakistocracy. If Trump tries to get out of this with a national emergency, that will be the dumbest possible authoritarianism.

Spare us the drivel about constitutional government and authoritarianism. There's nothing the least bit unconstitutional about the president refusing to sign a bill funding any or all of the government. What is unconstitutional is the monstrous administrative state created by Progressives who have little respect for the Constitution, and unlike hacks like you, some of them at least admit that the president has plausible authority to build a wall. So it's long overdue that the defenders of the administrative state get a taste of their own medicine.

You are not even following the news.

"Trump will "probably" declare national emergency absent a deal in Congress."

That is what should concern all good citizens. And anyone who believes in the Constitution really should support immediate impeachment.

And anyone who believes in the Constitution really should support immediate impeachment.


Have you really thought that through?

Are you supporting the idea that any president may declare an emergency for anything he can't get from Congress?

Does it occur to you that by the same measure a Democrat could declare an "emergency" and implement national healthcare?

But then, stopping to think things through is not really a hallmark of Trumpian populism.

Excellent point. But it got me thinking about paying for these executive coups, oops I mean 'national emergencies'. Presumably Trump will declare it then divert funds from the DoD to build something on the border. Is he allowed to do that?

And if President Sanders declares an emergency to implement national health care, where would the much larger funding need come from?

Trump couldn't / shouldn't declare a national emergency. However, he probably legally could have the DOD construct a wall.


"10 U.S.C. § 2663 - U.S. Code - Unannotated Title 10. Armed Forces § 2663. Land acquisition authorities

" (a) Acquisition of land by condemnation for certain military purposes.--(1)  Subject to subsection (f), the Secretary of a military department may have proceedings brought in the name of the United States, in a court of proper jurisdiction, to acquire by condemnation any interest in land, including temporary use, needed for--

(A)  the site, construction, or operation of fortifications, coast defenses, or military training camps;""

Building a border wall historically would fall under the category of fortifications and the Secretary of Defense can legally build Fortifications. Granted, the amount would be legally limited to funds that weren't expressly designated by Congress for other purchases. But given the size of the US military budget, there are probably billions in Defense discretionary funds.

Couldn't/shouldn't? Shouldn't never stopped him before, and I don't see how he couldn't. Who's to stop him?

And yes that was my point, there's probably some DoD money somewhere he can use for his emergency, but how would that hypothetically work when a Dem president declares a different emergency for something far more expensive?

I was just amplifying anonymous' point that Trumpies should be careful if they are wishing for him to keep fascisting this.

"...when a Dem president declares a different emergency for something far more expensive?"

Because that would be unconstitutional. Just as much as if Trump did it now.

However, using the military to build a fortification with existing discretionary funds would be legal.

I see that Marco Rubio went with President Kamala Harris invoking emergency powers over climate change ..

You guys even have a clue about how many 'national emergencies' are going on right now? Going back to the Carter administration?

Emoluments clause. Trump is 100% guilty of violating the Constitution.

Nonsense. Presidents are allowed to be businessmen.

What they aren't allowed to do is using government owned property to profit directly from foreign governments.

We will see how the appeals court rules on this question, of course - 'The lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia alleges that because Trump has not divested himself of his business holdings, foreign and domestic government spending at Trump's Washington hotel amounts to gifts to the president in violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause.

Oral arguments before the three-judge appeals court are scheduled for March, delaying what had been a brisk discovery schedule set in the district court by several months. The order also notes that lawyers should be prepared to also address substantive issues such as whether the plaintiffs in the case can even sue and, if victorious, compel the president to stop violating the Constitution.'

You always need boats.

I’ve lost the ability to discern trolling from non trolling, and I’m a semi regular troll.

Is the Rick Astley video on purpose? Is anonymous trolling his own replies using the same name and device ?

I thought it was funny. I guess the serious link would be:

We should institutionalize the shut down, make it semi-regular event. Have government employees plan their careers around the shutdown. Have an office of Shutdown, Secretary of Government shut downs.

If not, the millennials who pay some 4% of their income for federal interest charges will rebel, repudiate the debt, none of which they voted , by the way. Government is still rolling for 3 or 4 trillion from when Reagan bailed out that Bush kid in the Texas S&L disaster.

As boomers split the scene, leaving some 120% GDP in debt, there is no one left, except millennials. So when millennials say, "make the guy behind the tree pay", then everyone behind the tree will be a millennial, all 2.1 offsprings of the two parents living on the leftovers after millennials cover interest charges.

Is this one of those Thomas Friedman big insights based on looking through a taxi window for 45 minutes observations?

Department of Defense civilians and contractors are doing alright.

Light up and Smoke one for RBG!

Funny how the US can't even barely fund elements of US government on annual basis - barely on a quarterly basis, yet Israel has a guaranteed $38 billion for the next 10 years US tax payer welfare check or $10M/day of US tax dollars for the decade?

Must be nice!


Actually, what Israel gets is credits for the purchase of military equipment from American manufacturers.

Nice Keynesian there neocon Krugman. Shouldn't you support mindless projects like the wall also since it's such a great stimulus?

Israelis don't have to pay for the guns since they are a US taxpayer welfare queen AND it's great to get the butter with their universal health care! All the benefits of socialism with half the costs.

The Dems dare not bring up those affected worst by the shutdown. Namely, the private contractor employees, who can't work because the agency is closed and won't get lost pay from any deal. And many of them are a wink and a nod personal services contractors, i.e., basically treated by management as employees, which is illegal.

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