Sorry folks the park's closed...and the website too

By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital Management, LLC
October 6, 2013

While preparing this week’s in-depth investment analysis of the first nine months of the year, I needed some housing starts data from 2012. This is what greeted me at the Census Bureau website:

“Due to the lapse in government funding, census.gov sites and services will be unavailable until further notice.”

I immediately envisioned government employees powering websites by running on a treadmill generator, like hamsters or Gilligan on some contraption the Professor built.

Come back next week for the investment review. My initial intention was to ignore the shut-down debacle, because it didn’t deserve another 500 words in the News Sentinel.

Well, that didn’t work out so well.

I’m not one of 800,000 people whose lives and income are currently disrupted. Otherwise I might react differently.

But the contrived drama related to the government “shut down” has been embarrassingly childish and meaningless. If you thought dancing around language regarding a red line with Syria was potentially embarrassing, imagine Al Qaeda chuckling at the spectacle of 90-year-old war veterans using canes and walkers to knock over some bicycle racks and orange cones so they could storm an outdoor marble and concrete patio.

People are working, but accruing pay rather than receiving it. The shutdown hurts them, but not me. It doesn’t hurt Jimmy Duncan or Jim Cooper.

Cancelling a Naval Academy football game would have actually cost money, as the school stood to make about $400,000 on its sold-out contest Saturday against Air Force.

The Grand Canyon is simply a massive ditch. How—and why—in the world do you shut a ditch?

Moon’s Law Number Six: something that is inevitable will eventually happen.

The US government is not going out of business.

If the websites will inevitably be operational, turn the damn things back on.

All of the bus routes in Blount County will eventually reopen, as will the massive ditch in Arizona.

Holding those items hostage is like telling someone you are going to bomb them, but not really.

There is little on which politicians or paid observers agree, except for the cause of the shut-down: the other side.

There is no question that intentionally creating the most petty every day disruptions possible is immature governance. But it’s not even effective politics.

There is no bargaining benefit to threatening an outcome that will never happen.

Back when the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website was operational, the government estimated that there were 1.4 million surviving American vets from World War II.

My guess is that we could select 537 of them at random to provide some political leadership right now—and they would do remarkably better than the guys who spend hundreds of millions of dollars to seek those positions.

Even the ones suffering the natural effects of aging couldn’t be worse than Joe Biden.

By the way, if you need housing stats or any other quarantined government information, go to Wikipedia. It never closes.

David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management, a Knoxville-based investment management firm. This article originally appeared in the News Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).

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