A Third of Government is Shutting Down and The Only Lost Function Anyone Can Name is Parks

First, you did not read the title wrong.  A government shutdown means only about a third of the government actually shuts down.  But the more amazing thing is that given multiple opportunities to name what we would lose if this one third goes away, all anyone can name is parks.  This is from a Q&A by the Associated Press via Zero Hedge, which says we would lose parks and have some delays in new disability applications and, uh, we would lose parks.

About one-third of the government will shut down. About 800,000 of about 2.1 million federal employees will be sent home without pay. National parks will close.

NASA will continue to keep workers at Mission Control in Houston and elsewhere to support the International Space station, where two Americans and four other people live. Aside from that only about 3 percent of NASA's 18,000 workers will keep working.

The military and other agencies involving safety and security would continue to function. These include air traffic controllers, border patrol and law enforcement officers. Social Security, Medicare and veterans' benefits payments would continue, but there could be delays in processing new disability applications.

A partial shutdown that lasts no more than a few days wouldn't likely nick the economy much. But if the shutdown were to persist for two weeks or more, the economy would likely begin to slow, economists say.

Extended closures of national parks would hurt hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses. Delays in processing visas for overseas visitors could interrupt trade. And the one-third of the federal workforce that lost pay would cut back on spending, thereby slowing growth.

So there you have it -- we lay off 800,000 government workers and the only two losses the AP can come up with is that national parks will close and those 800,000 people will have less to spend.    Since the NPS employs about 22,000 people, this means that the other 778,000 have a contribution to the economy that consists mainly of drawing and then spending a salary?

I would love to see the government shutdown rules modified to add National Parks to the critical assets that remain open in a shutdown, since this seems the only thing anyone cares about.  Then it would be fascinating to see how the downside of the shutdown would be spun.  I can see the headlines now.   "AP:  Millions of TPS reports go unfiled".

Update:  My company runs parks under concession contract in the National Forest and for other government agencies.  In all previous shutdowns, we have remained open, since we pay money into the government budget rather than draw money out, and since the parks we operate employ no government workers.  This time, though, we are starting to get notices we have to shut down too.  This may be an attempt by the administration to artificially make the shutdown worse than it needs to be.  I will update you as I learn more.


  1. oneteam:

    If this is what we have to do to reduce government, it should have been done long ago.

    Shut'er down!!!

  2. Matthew Goldey:

    As a grad student/national lab "employee", word from the higher ups is that all keeps operating normally here for 1-2 months past federal shutdown since funding is already received. If that happens, I'd expect a major shift in way scientists view the U.S. Whether the government should be directly funding basic and applied research is a wholly different pickle, but abandoning established funding would seriously undermine trust.

  3. lelnet:

    Of course they're trying to make it worse. If they thought they'd get away with it, they'd hire extra people to run around the suburbs randomly kidnapping puppies and kittens from little children, just so they could blame the pain on the shutdown. So yeah, it'd surprise me a whole lot to find out that the parks you run were allowed to stay open.

    After all, most people who need a passport already have one. People who need visas to enter the US aren't citizens and thus can't vote and don't count. Most of the rest of the things being actually closed are things that the plurality of Americans would prefer to do away with anyway, even if we weren't in the middle of budget-standoff-kabuki. So by all means, they've got to make the shutdown of the park system as painful as humanly possible, or else folks would start calling their Congressmen and asking them to KEEP THE DAMN GOVERNMENT CLOSED FOREVER!

  4. Rick Caird:

    That's my take, too. They can't have people forgetting that they are from the government and are here to help. So, it is all about visibility.

  5. NL7:

    Does your lease allow the lessor to just arbitrarily make you close your gates? That seems like a gaping hole in the contract, unless there's some compensation for you. Especially if the random shutdown order came after making a big capital investment.

  6. jdt:

    I work on submarines and will be cleaning my garage tomorrow. I doubt anyone outside of the Navy will notice or care, though, if the submarine maintenance gets pushed back a couple of days.

    Maybe the local press will stop by to run some sob story about how my kids will surely starve from a few hours of lost wages...

  7. mesocyclone:

    They did the same thing in the '90s, keeping me from visiting a National Monument in Hawaii on vacation. They of course will do what they can to hurt people first, bureaucrats last.

    My friends in the meteorology world are freaking out. Most of them are lefties, of course, and those not directly in the line of life/safety real time work will be furloughed.

    To me, that's a risk you should be prepared to run if you accept the very generous terms of government employment.

  8. Petet:

    Sounds about right on the artificial front. We are sending our contractors home even though the office will remain open, their COR will be at work, and their contract is already paid for.

  9. markm:

    At least 200 WWII veterans didn't let barricades and guards keep them from visiting the WWII Memorial:


    Notice how the government "saves money" by shutting down a park - they pay people to put up barricades and attempt to guard them. Fortunately, the National Park Police on hand had more sense than to start shooting at the veterans, or to try to arrest them.

  10. Mick Price:

    You know I will feel less important during the shutdown, knowing the NSA won't be reading everything I write on the internet. I don't know, it makes me feel like nobody important is listening.

  11. CallieB:

    NIH has had to shut down clinical trials for new cancer treatments; the CDC isn't updating its medical/infectious disease guidance; the FDA has to curtail routine food safety inspections; the NBTS can't investigate accidents to provide guidance to prevent future ones from occurring; the Department of Labor can't provide statistics important for economists and investors to do their jobs; the LIbrary of Congress is closed to researchers -- perhaps not vital to life but to the intellect.

    None of these things may seem essential today or tomorrow or even after a week. Parks closing -- you see that effect right away. Other things -- it would take time to show an effect. I hope our country isn't shut down for long.

    I don't think it is right that your parks are being closed down. I'm sorry and hope that you can reopen soon.