Politicians Playing King-of-the-Hill

You likely heard that the Federal government is partially shut-down. It’s not like a private company shutting down part of its operation and laying off some of its employees. For those employees, it’s no job, no pay. For the Federal employees who are off work for now, it’s no job but you most likely get paid later.

It’s not so harm-free for private contractors and all of the businesses who depend on the thousands of Federal employees to shop and buy. The point is that the partial government shut-down is causing real problems for thousands of real people.

All of those Federal employees who are off work had real jobs and provided real services that many people, businesses and organizations depend on to function. The result of the partial government shut-down is that there is major disruption that is seriously interfering with the economic and transactional life of the country. And the longer the partial shut-down continues, the more harmful the disruption.

Why is the Federal government partially shut-down? That’s an easy question to answer. It’s a tried-and-true negotiating strategy. President Trump wants to build a wall long enough to run from Chicago to Los Angeles but built along the border with Mexico. The final cost of his wall would likely be ten million dollars a mile, but a less expensive wall might be acceptable. Maybe two and a half million dollars a mile would work for him. We can call that solution 1.

The opposition will not agree to the wall but may be fine with a technological barrier that is yet to be clearly explained. We don’t know how much that type of barrier would cost but it would presumably be less than two and a half million dollars a mile. We can call that solution 2.

As we see, both sides agree that some type of enhanced barrier should be put in place. The Federal government is shut down because the two sides can’t agree about the type of barrier and how much it should cost. There is no disagreement about the need for an enhanced barrier nor that it will be expensive. How expensive? It will cost about as much as it costs to fund the Federal government for thirty seconds. President Trump wants about forty-five seconds and the opposition is offering only fifteen. The Federal government is partially shut-down over about thirty seconds of disputed funding.