GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN DIARY
Day 1 of the “Government Shutdown/Economy Shutdown” (Tuesday, 01 OCT 2013) –
Left early today for Pierre for EPA-mandated testing and certification required to determine whether too much dust or smoke is being emitted. Will it be held? We have to leave early enough that we can’t call to see if they are having it. Fortunately, I-90 did not have the gates down, and although it is a 95% federally-funded Interstate Highway, it is open and traffic is about as normal. As we drove out of Rapid City and past Ellsworth Air Force Base, we notice that the base seems to be operational; a B-1B was taking off as we went past, and the gates seem to be open and manned. No barricades blocking it off.
When we get to Pierre, and go to the National Guard Armory where the testing has been done for more than 25 years, at first I am worried that the shutdown might have affected this. There are very few cars in the parking lot and the smoke generator is not in its usual location. Then I remember that they have classroom training first this fall, and see the new smoke generator set up in a new location for the first time in about twenty years! They are doing the testing! (Of course, although this is EPA mandated, I should point out that the testing is done (according to EPA standards, of course) by State of South Dakota personnel. But I also notice that the National Guard Armory is open for business as usual, and the normal number of Guardsmen seem to be working. The power and water is on, too. Again, I realize that the South Dakota ARNG (Army National Guard) is theoretically a State of South Dakota military unit, but it is reimbursed pretty near 100% by the United States DoD… and during the sequestration garbage, they made National Guard technicians take unpaid time off (furlough), because they were technically “civilian” employees during the week although they wear uniforms and are soldiers on the weekend.
Later, after the testing was done, I talked with one of the people I am working with in the Rosebud Sioux Tribal government about getting some checks issued for various projects, from the Tribe’s Finance Office. It wasn’t until later that I realized that they WERE still open despite the Shutdown. His position, though a tribal one, is about 100% funded by a federal (HUD) grant, and the Tribe’s Finance Office gets about 67% of its budget directly or indirectly from the FedGov.
Returning home, again saw that the Interstate Highway and Ellsworth Air Force Base both still open as usual. I had thought perhaps the word just had not gotten to them in time, earlier in the day. But no, here it was, nine hours later, and they were still NOT shut down. Interesting! In fact, now that I think about it, we drove through several construction zones, 95% federally-funded, that were actually doing work today!
Most of the day, because I am on a news and comment diet (well, almost a fast), I was listening to Classic FM, a British classical music station. During their hourly news reports, they DID mention the American government shutdown, and how the Obama Administration was claiming that Congress was destroying the government and the economy like the “anarchists” that they (the GOP, according to the “messiah’s” shills) are.
Matthias, Debby and I speculated that there must surely be some other things: perhaps they had put a tarp over Mount Rushmore (since you can still SEE Mount Rushmore even if the visitor’s center and the parking garage (which was and is privately funded) was closed). And if I-90 wasn’t closed, perhaps the Feds had closed US-16 (actually “state highway” 16, but with US signs on it) through Jewel Cave National Monument, and US-385 through Wind Cave National Park. Guess we’ll see or hear about it.
I did decide NOT to do an update of my wildly-popular column of Libertarian commentary on the news, since in the fragile state of the economy and the government (what is left of it after the shutdown), even using those few trillion electrons might trigger an even worse collapse.
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN DIARY
Day 2 of the “Government Shutdown/Economy Shutdown” (Wednesday, 02 OCT 2013)
Woke up this morning concerned that the water and power and internet and phone would be shut down, since they were probably just moving out of sheer inertia yesterday. But now, without the blessings of government for more than 24 hours, we’d surely have lost all these traces of civilization. I didn’t expect to hear any sirens, but surely the riots of the laid-off and starving masses would be underway by now.
But everything worked as it should (of course, I think I paid for everything to the various businesses and a local special “district,” so they SHOULD have. My e-mail (diet, not really a fast, I guess) brought me horror stories – no, horrible predictions, of the dire impacts of the shutdown, but the closest thing I could find to a riot in them was that bunch of crazy old coots (WW2 Vets) who rode a bus all the way to DC and were going to visit the fairly new WW2 monument only to find barricades and signs telling them to stay away. The “riot” was because some of them ignored the Park Police and MOVED the barricades and WALKED (well, some rode their wheelchairs) to the monument right there on the Presidentially-closed National Mall! Gasp!
But surely there was more. While I was working on things so we could head down south, Matthias went into town to get the mail, top off the gas, and pay some bills. Gasp! He said that the Post Office was OPEN! There were people handing out mail and selling stamps and all. Not only that, but when he got back and we left, there was the mail carrier in his little SUV DELIVERING MAIL to the mailboxes right there on Croyle Avenue!
Now we were worried. There still could be that tarp on the four presidents’ faces, and the highways NOT essential for national defense could be closed. So with great trepidation, we headed south. Actually, we forgot to go directly by Mount Rushmore, but there were no closed signs on the direction signs to the Memorial. We DID see that there weren’t many cars parked at either the Black Hills National Forest Headquarters (north of Custer City) or the District Ranger’s Office in town: maybe they were shut down. We continued on. Fortunately, Highway 16 was NOT barricaded at the entrance to Jewel Cave National Monument.
However, we got our first physical indicator of trouble when we saw the gate to the parking area at Jewel Cave (and of course, access to the visitor center and the elevator down to the cave) was closed and there was a little 8.5×11 notice taped to it. We didn’t stop to read it, of course, since surely there was a Park Police or National Park Service law enforcement ranger with either a sniper rifle or hiding in the brush (now changing color for Fall) nearby, ready to deal with any scofflaws that wanted to recreate the Old WW2 Codgers Riot here in the Black Hills.
Still en route: traveling across the desperately-needing American states in the second day of Armaggaddon,…