What Did the Government Shutdown Accomplish (Kicking the Can…)

by Edward Henkler on October 29, 2013

President Obama said there were no winners in the government shutdown and he was right.  If they had identified and implemented compromises to stabilize the situation, then there might have been some winners.  Unfortunately, their only agreement was to defer a decision.  The list of who was harmed is endless.  It may not be the biggest but I’ll start with a nonsensical comment I read in this morning’s paper, stating that at least the holiday season would not be affected.  Given that the new deadlines occur in January and February, how can anyone suggest there won’t be an impact on shopping as families fret about another shutdown?  More immediately, how many small businesses were irreversibly harmed by the shutdown?  How many families missed payments as they live month-to-month?  Even though I support all of the furloughed employees getting paid, now we’re paying for work that did not occur.  The worst aspect is the lack of a decision, just more kicking the can down the road.  Much harm and absolutely nothing has been resolved; the clock is already ticking down to the next deadline with no indication that there have been any lessons learned.

As with my last post, my comments are not intended as political commentary.  Both parties have a share of the blame; it is only the percentage blame which might be subject to discussion.  My real point is to ask you to think about how often you delay making a decision and whether the delay is ever beneficial.  I am not talking about “sleeping on it” or even doing a certain amount of due diligence, which is almost always beneficial.  I’m talking about putting the decision off for an indeterminate period.  Perhaps you have a difficult employee and you defer a decision as you know they’ll be retiring in a year or two.  How about a re-organization or re-structuring but you postpone it, hoping that the financials will improve?  Perhaps it’s time to upgrade your technology but you defer the decision, hoping something even better will soon be available?  Perhaps you have a vacancy and you interview a number of good candidates but don’t pull the trigger as you think there might be a better alternative if you just wait a little longer.  It applies in personal situations also.  How about a struggling marriage where the couple holds on just until the kids are out of the house?  (Happily not an issue for me)

I will argue that the situation seldom improves when we defer an important decision beyond any normal due diligence or “sleeping on it” period.  Returning to the recent government shutdown, let’s look at the fallout.  Almost all Congressmen and the Executive office have damaged their reputations.  The international community is becoming increasingly more wary of our ability to manage our finances effectively.  Many small businesses and individuals were harmed, some permanently.  And, do you think that any of the vitriolic discourse will make it easier to find an acceptable resolution next January and February?

 Kicking the Can

We may not be able to directly influence our politicians but we can avoid the same issues at work and in our personal lives by dealing with critical issues when they arise, not deferring them time and again.

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