Notes On A Shutdown

"Hey, don't blame me - I voted for Gary Johnson."  

Alright, you know what? I’m just going to come out and say it: I don’t give a shit that those World War 2 veterans weren’t able to visit the memorial in Washington DC. Not a single shit! I have nothing but respect for their service to their country, but the fact that they weren’t able to visit the World War 2 memorial has absolutely no emotional impact on me.

I mean, maybe it would if everything else was working, but the shutdown has created a situation where children dying of cancer are unable to be treated and Capitol Police are chasing down kamikaze drivers and self immolators without getting paid. In light of all that, I’m really not too upset that a bunch of elderly veterans’ vacation got ruined.

These people fought in the largest armed conflict in human history, for fuck’s sake – I think they can handle mild disappointment.


The recent salmonella outbreak in Foster Farms chicken, which was able to spread undetected thanks to FDA and CDC furloughs, is the part of the shutdown that has so far had the biggest effect on me.

Throughout my upbringing my parents warned me so much about the health risks of undercooked chicken that leaky packages of chicken breasts sometimes show up in my nightmares. Needless to say, I’m taking this very seriously and abstaining from all chicken for the duration of the shutdown. 

This creates problems for me because I’m surrounded by literally hundreds of different businesses where you can trade money for delicious hot chicken, usually wrapped in foil. Zankou Chicken! Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles! Birds, a restaurant in Hollywood that only serves chicken. As a lazy bachelor who doesn’t do a lot of cooking, this has really put the squeeze on my diet.

But I’m not taking my risks here – the outbreak originated in California, so to walk into a fast food restaurant in California and order chicken would be like playing some sort of reckless game in which your fate is entirely left up to chance.*

*Kind of like that game where two people drive right towards each other until somebody turns away – you know, the one they play in Footloose. What did they call that game, again?

Looking on the bright side, this has helped to curb my Baja Fresh habit, and now I’m saving a little more money. So I’ve resolved my budget deficit…


Do you ever get the impression our nation is run by a bunch of college freshmen? Because about the only thing Congress has been able to do this year is blow every goddamn deadline they have.

Remember back at the beginning of the year, when the Sequester was the worst thing that could possibly happen? Everybody – the media, the president, economists – told us in great detail how the spending cuts of the Sequester would kick kids out of Head Start programs and delay important medical research and make it rain dog blood unless Congress could pass a budget by March 1st.

And then Congress didn’t pass a budget by March 1st and the Sequester happened and was as bad as they said, and after a week or two the conversation changed to, “Okay, this Sequester thing sucks, but what’s really important is that the government doesn’t shut down in October. That’s going to be way worse than this.”

And as we got closer and closer to the shutdown everybody talked about all the terrible things that would happen if we shut down the government. And then that happened, and all the terrible things have begun to happen, and now everybody is saying, “Okay, this government shutdown thing sucks, but what’s really important is that the government doesn’t default on its debt next Thursday. That’s going to be, like, 17 trillion times worse than this.”

And now that we’re getting closer and closer to next Thursday suddenly there’s all this talk about how we might be able to go a couple days past Thursday before we actually default on our debt, and it’s like, maybe if you just wrote your fucking research paper now you wouldn’t have to figure out a new lie to get an extension from the professor, y’know?

It would restore nearly all my faith in our elected officials if just once we could resolve an impasse without it turning into an episode of 24 – everybody running and screaming and torturing each other until we barely save the day at the last second. But I guess that’s not going to be feasible for as long as 20% of our legislature is made up of people who touch themselves when they see Washington get destroyed in Independence Day.


I have to say, though, if this is what the collapse of Western Civilization is going to be like, I’m really not impressed. Yesterday I went out for poutine; today my roommate watched Ghostbusters in the middle of the afternoon. Unless things get significantly more fucked up in the next eight days I’m going to go ahead and say that economic catastrophe is by far the most boring type of catastrophe.

I’m not one of those dipshits who thinks that there’s nothing wrong with the world’s biggest economy failing to pay its credit card bill – I know a lot of people are suffering now, and that billions more will be if nothing changes by the end of next week. I would greatly prefer it if we avoid widespread suffering and turmoil.

But if we have to have widespread suffering and turmoil, this isn’t the kind I used to fantasize about in fourth period Spanish. If we default on our debt I don’t get to fashion crude armor out of street signs and bolt it to The Mystery Wagon and then drive around in a leather jacket with a shotgun scavenging for supplies and fighting mutant raiders. All that happens is everybody becomes really, really poor.

But I guess that’s still preferable to healthcare.

Truman Capps freely admits that he would be the first to die in a Mad Max style apocalypse.