With all the hoopla in the media about the pending US government shutdown its important to remember a few inconvenient truths.
1. Government shuts down because it is out of money. Government is out of money because Congress (one or both houses) can't complete its Constitutionally-required job of presenting a budget and appropriating funds. To work or expend funds by an agency during a shut down is a violation of the Economy Act of 1932 which carries criminal penalties.
2. Government shutdowns are political theater and nothing more.
3. In 31 years of government employment I endured 9 full or partial shut downs. Most occurred around October 1, the start of the fiscal year when Congress couldn't pass a budget or come to agreement on a continuing resolution. In other words, in 31 years a shut down occurred on average once every 3 years.
4. The most famous (and longest in my career) shutdown was in 1996 when Newt Gingrich threw a fit claiming he wasn't allowed to sit with President Clinton on Air Force One as they returned from Israel. This despite a front page picture in the Washington Post of Newtie sitting with Clinton on the flight.
5. Government employees do not lose any salary because of a shut down. We are given Administrative Leave for the time off and paid our regular salary when the nonsense is over.
6. Social security checks are still written and sent to retirees as are monthly annuity checks for retired Federal employees.
7. Vendors working with government agencies don't get paid during a shut down but they eventually get paid when funds are appropriated. Albeit late, they are paid.
8. The military, law enforcement and other employees deemed "essential" still work during a shutdown. So its not like the Marines come to a halt and can't do anything or the FBI cant chase bad guys that rob banks or Customs can't enforce import laws. The US Coast Guard is still on the water helping boaters in distress and rescuing sick passengers from cruise ships. They can and still do.
9. Air Traffic Controllers still show up for work and still keep planes in flight separated from each other. Air travel does not change or stop.
10. About the only thing that happens when government shuts down is the National Parks close and the National Wildlife Refuges close, and you can't go sign up for new benefits under Social Security, and the Department of Labor doesn't collect employment data for a few days, and there are delays in obtaining Federal housing assistance, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessels have to return to port because they can't operate without funds. All of these things go back to normal once the children in the Congress agree on more funding.
The only thing that really happens in a shutdown is that pompous asshole members of Congress and in the current case a president with an ego the size of Brooklyn, can crow about how they shut down the government to make a point. The last time there was a shutdown (caused by Senator Ted Cruz R-TX) it was estimated that it cost the american economy something like $28 billion dollars.