The Inmates are in Charge of the Asylum

Not to cast aspersions on all of our elected officials (for, in truth, there are many doing the people’s work) but here’s a message to those highly principled obstructionists responsible for the current U.S. federal government shutdown:

Thanks. For nothing.

For economic development professionals and for the hundreds of millions of Americans who depend upon the programs, incentives and initiatives that we, the people have approved, here’s a reminder of how the shutdown is playing out in real life in our world:

• The Economic Development Administration is offline, which means all of EDA’s vital grant work and work in disaster recovery has come to a stop.

• The SelectUSA Investment Summit is still on and two staffers remain working on it as of this morning, but the rest of the SelectUSA team have been furloughed; the SelectUSA team in London for an investment conference had to drop-out at the last minute because of the shutdown.

The Small Business Administration’s loan programs, 504’s and 7a’s, are no longer being processed or funds distributed, effectively locking-up vitally important small business capital.

The Nation’s parks and federal attractions are closed; this might not seem like a big deal, but consider that in 2010 tourism had an economic impact of $1.8 trillion.

Federal Housing Administration mortgage loans, which impact 30% of home sales, are going unprocessed during the shutdown, having an adverse effect on the still-recovering housing industry.

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Transportation Administration may soon run out of money to service billions in debt associated with municipal bonds issued to fund transportation projects throughout the country; Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles (Garvees) will need further appropriations in as little as a few weeks before defaulting and wreaking havoc on credit ratings at the local, state, and federal level.

Source: International Economic Development Council (IEDC), Federal Alert, cited here


In times of crisis it is often helpful to seek consolation in the wisdom of Winston Churchill, to whom these somewhat encouraging words are often attributed: “Americans can always be counted upon to do the right thing, after having exhausted every other possibility.”

In fact, research suggests that it was the Israeli diplomat Abba Eban who actually pronounced, “Men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources.”

At this point, of course, we’re undoubtedly less concerned with authorship than we are with, dare I say, principle.

So, let’s just hope that Churchill and/or Eban were right, and that Congress has very nearly exhausted all other possibilities and will be soon be doing right by the American people.