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Government Shutdown Does Not Save Money

By John B. Wood •  October 8, 2013
There is a piece of the government shutdown narrative that I think many people have missed over the last seven days.
A government shutdown does not save money; it actually costs MORE money than if the government were to remain open for business.  This NYT opinion piece makes the point well:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/opinion/the-cost-of-the-shutdown.html
Furthermore, when the government ‘shuts down’ it doesn’t really shut down.  Only about 20% of federal employees have been furloughed, and they are likely to receive back-pay.   So, we end up paying for the work that we aren’t letting them do.
Unfortunately, much of the dialogue has been about managing the optics of the shutdown – for the President, House and Senate – and not about the reality that this shutdown is not only an inconvenience and a distraction, but it is adding to our nation’s debt crisis.
Would like to know what you think.  Leave a comment here, or on Twitter.
John B. Wood

John B. Wood is the chairman and CEO of Telos Corporation. Follow him on Twitter: @john_b_wood See full bio...

Telos CEO John Wood blogs about business, education, and the values that guide us.


  • Marna says:

    Not only is it not saving money, but it’s no way to make sound policy, fiscal or otherwise. This kind of lurching from one “crisis” to another is hurting us long-term, because there is absolutely no trust between any of the parties to cooperate or negotiate in the future, so there is no long-range budget development.

  • Barb Alexander Rorer says:

    And do you suppose there will be a need for overtime to catch up on some of this work? It is simply ridiculous. I posted an article on LinkedIn this morning “Across America the government’s work is piling up, and it’s not just paperwork. It’s old tires and red Solo cups littering a stretch of river in Nebraska. Food poisoning microbes awaiting analysis in Atlanta. The charred wreckage of a plane in California, preserved in case safety investigators return.”
    The shutdown is affecting more people than congress cares to admit. http://news.yahoo.com/governments-stacking-week-shutdown-073650607.html

  • Brian Zupke says:

    The money impact of the shutdown is important but not the main issue. Using extortion by the minority party to effect policy changes overwhelmingly rejected by the public (in the last elections) is undemocratic, immoral, and should be illegal. If they succeed then we will be enjoying this tactic over and over again until the one time where it doesn’t work. That time needs to be now as every time we go through one of these self-created crises, the price us much, much greater than these immediate costs.

  • Beverly Ross says:

    “If everyone is thinking alike, then someone is thinking.” General George Patton
    I don’t have strong feelings about this “crisis.” The damage done by the shutdown is well documented and clear. The arrogance and stubbornness of our leaders is disturbing. The voter’s outrage is justified. Human nature tells us throughout history, nothing changes without a crisis. A crisis is created every day, whether it’s a heart attack, a divorce, or a bankruptcy. The status quo is dangerous. The damage from any crisis can be permanent and lead to a complete destruction like death, a lifetime of bitterness or a cycle of poverty; or it can create a new beginning like a healthy body, a fulfilling relationship or long term financial security.
    We all do stupid things, and we should all learn from each other too. I do believe our constitution was based upon the premise that our leaders must work together. I can’t stand pitting one side against the other. I hope that this crisis will lead us and our leaders down the path of meaningful and positive change.

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