Let's look at more headlines:
"Capital Digs in for the Long Haul," says the Wall Street Journal. Resignation seemed to be the dominant tone in the US press.
Bloomberg looked at the matter from a couple of angles. First, it looked at the democratic implications, noting that "Americans by 72% Oppose Shutdown Tied to Health Care Cuts." The headline leaves some ambiguity; perhaps they would approve of a shutdown tied to cuts in education or defense spending. But we doubt it.
Then, Bloomberg looks at it from an economic standpoint. How much will this thing cost, it wants to know. It soon finds a source willing to make an estimate: "Shutdown to cost $300 million a day, IHS says."
Who's IHS? We had the same question. Bloomberg explains:
While that is a small fraction of the country's $15.7 trillion economy, the daily impact of a shutdown is likely to accelerate if it continues as it depresses confidence and spending by businesses and consumers.
Lexington, Massachusetts-based IHS, a global market research firm, estimates that its forecast for 2.2 percent annualized growth in the fourth quarter will be reduced 0.2 percentage point in a weeklong shutdown. A 21-day closing like the one in 1995-96 could cut growth by 0.9 to 1.4 percentage point, according to Guy LeBas, chief fixed income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia.
" Government spending touches every aspect of the economy, and disruption of spending, more than the direct loss of income, threatens to damage investor and business confidence in ways that can seriously harm economic growth," LeBas said yesterday in an interview.
One. Well...is there anybody else? Are we all alone?
As we explained yesterday, there are two ways to get what you want. Force and violence on the one had. Or trade and persuasion on the other. (Somewhere in the middle is fraud...but let's ignore that for the moment.)
An economy is built on trade and persuasion. You have to do something that others will pay you for. You make something. You offer some service. Others do the same - offering you something that you want. One makes a pair of shoes...another brews up some beer. Oh, you know how it works!
But one part of the economy doesn't work that way. That's the part that the government controls. That part depends on brute force. No customer has to be satisfied. No real want has to be addressed. No 'meeting of the minds,' between buyer and seller, ever has to take place. Either you pay your taxes or the feds put you in jail. Either you do as you are told - no jokes allowed in the TSA line! - or, they put you in prison.
"America has changed so much," continued our French friend. "I used to visit every summer when I was a teenager. It was a rite of passage for the French. America was so free. So different from Europe. We would go to California and hitch-hike up and down the coast. It was the 1960s. Everyone was unbelievably friendly and open. I loved it.
"But I went back just this summer. It's a different place. They treat you like a war criminal when you go through customs. And you wouldn't think of hitch-hiking. People are still nice. But that spirit of freedom seems to have disappeared... It's a lot more like Europe now. But with more police."
Yes, it is more like Europe, where government plays a larger role.
And now, would reducing the role of government really make people worse off? Would less brute force in the economy really be a disaster? What if people only got more of what they really wanted...only what they could get by honest manufacture, trade and commerce? What if the zombies were cut back? Would that be so bad?
Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.