workers freedom

economics as if workers mattered

Shutting down the government

The U.S. government will shut down at midnight, or so we are promised.

But they won’t be shutting down the entire government. Health and safety inspections of workplaces will stop, as will oversight of industrial polluters. Museums, art galleries and public parks will be closed. No one will be answering the phones at the agencies charged with “enforcing” workers’ rights. But the border guards will be out in full force, making sure none of our fellow workers cross the borders money flows across so freely. The army will continue its operations without disruption. No one will be released from prisons, not even those the administration concedes are victims of unfair treatment in the war on drugs. Whistleblowers like Private Manning will not be set free; the persecution of those accused of lifting the curtain on the government’s secrets will not stop.

We can see what is important to the bosses in the list of essential “services” to be continued during the government shutdown, and in the list of those to be shuttered. Even more telling is the pundits’ bleating. The government shutdown is not so bad, they tell us. We can get by just fine without parks and art, without labor rights and the like.

What really matters — and on this the pundits are unanimous — is that the Republicans back down on their threat to not lift the debt ceiling in a few weeks. If they don’t, horror of horrors, the government might go into technical default on its debts. The bankers would face the threat of not receiving their money on time! Financial markets would rebel! Catastrophe would ensue!

I can almost see the platoons of bankers, decked out in their three piece suits, fountain pens in hand, parachuting down from their global tax havens to occupy Washington DC, and set things right. Money must prevail! Debts must be paid!

They don’t go to all that much trouble to conceal who’s in charge, and whose interests really matter.


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