IPE Zone Fully Endorses US Gov't Shutdown

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 2/22/2011 10:31:00 PM
It was quite an easy decision. After all, I am the sole author of the IPE Zone ;-)

But seriously, I gather that one of the most popular video game series in the United States is called Unreal Tournament. In fact, I get the same feeling of unreality with budgetary discussions in the country that spawned Unreal Tournament. States alike Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio are becoming battlegrounds for the mother of all showdowns in Washington. That is, the looming March 4 cut-off point at the federal level. The combatants in the American arena line up thusly: Republicans do not understand that revenue generation can be part of the solution, preferring to keep Bush II-era tax cuts that have quite obviously resulted in epic trillion dollar-plus deficits. Democrats on the other hand have no wish to offend traditional constituencies--organized labour, public sector workers, and so forth. With starting points that are difficult to square with reality, you end up with paralysis. At the federal level as well as in various states, there is discussion of shutting down governments at various levels given the inability to pass budgets.

While I am equally appalled by Republicans and Democrats alike, I am naturally very curious about the prospect of having major chunks of the American government shut down. Especially since the era of subprime globalization, with the US sucking capital from the world for no obvious benefit for either those of us who lend it or the Americans themselves, my inclination has been to believe that America is a malign global influence on the balance. While I do recognize that the United States is not the US government alone, it is the conduit by which much American presence is manifested around the world. Moreover, it is the nation-state that is theoretically accountable to "We the People."

Being a scholar of international political economy, it is thus an enticing prospect: what would life be like if (parts of) America just went away? For Amerophiles (that I had to invent the term may indicate the sheer uncoolness of being identified as such), anti-Americans, and those somewhere in between, we can actually learn about a lot of things from such a shutdown. To paraphrase some questions that have long puzzled IR and IPE scholars:
  1. Is America really the indispensable nation? Can us little brown brothers and assorted primitives cope without such enwhitenment?
  2. How would the world economy fare without its largest consumer market not fully functional?
  3. Would international organizations suffice in running the world's everyday affairs, or does the country that helped build most of them have to be there?
  4. For that matter, would anyone miss the United States that much, bona fide American lackeys like Mikhail Saakashvili aside?
As the saying goes, there's only one way to find out. So, dear Republicans, just do it. Pull the plug at the national, state, and municipal levels. Stem the tide of red ink by closing down government full stop (the most comprehensive "starve-the-beast" strategy). It's happened in 1995 and 1996, but this year will likely be a more drawn-out affair if nothing changes. The hammer of the cyber-heretics welcomes this natural experiment. Americans may be surprised to find out that, gee, life goes on elsewhere while they engage in a long overdue, all-American "Last Man Standing" match. If not that, a fiscal "Death Match" will suffice.