I spoke with a friend yesterday who has been waiting for a launch window for his astronomy research balloon, the culmination of years of work by talented astronomers, programmers, designers, and more. The most likely day for the launch window to open is Saturday, and if the government is shut down, the balloon doesn’t go up, and there’s no funding to continue the project. So zero science, zero new knowledge, comes out of an expensive, years-long project because Congress can’t get its act together and a minority of extremists believe this is the appropriate forum to push forward their agenda. Even if the shutdown is short, getting back up and running means delays and backlogs and the possibility of success is low. This is not cost-effective. Though science may be a minor part of the deficit, it’s definitely not going to be part of any “partial shutdown” deal. It’s so maddening how little foresight is being shown in these negotiations. And this is just one tiny example, totally ignoring the
millions of 1,800,000 people who won’t get paychecks, threatening a fragile recovery, and myriad other hidden costs of shutdown.
There’s plenty of good analysis out there concerning the impending government shutdown. The Guardian, in particular, is live-tweeting the day and will hopefully be both entertaining and informative.
*Updated to reflect partial shutdown number of estimated employees furloughed 800,000 and another million to work without pay.