Shutdown Follies

The shutdown of the federal government


is certainly frustrating, infuriating, and unnecessary, especially since Congress has had so long to resolve the issue of the FY14 budget.1  Ideology trumps compromise,2 however, and the Republicans seem determined to shoot themselves in the foot.  There have been several consequences already from the shutdown, 3 a lot of rhetoric (and non-rhetoric4), and some chivalrous acts (notably by Democrats5 but also by some Republicans), let alone economic costs estimated at around $220m/day.6 

Even more frightening is the terrorization of the world threatened by the debate over the debt ceiling debate and a U.S. default,7 let alone the cynicism of the Republicans regarding both situations and their determination not to back down.It’s the month of Image Halloween, so, it’s no surprise, perhaps, that we should be afraid, very afraid;9 “trick or treat” has turned into just trick, no treat.  The least our legislators could do is reuse their pay;10 this seems too much to ask of the clueless, though.11   It is small comfort to think of the limping or immobilization that could result from injuries in both feet of the Republicans, a consideration apparently of little importance especially to the extreme Republicans, exemplified by Tea Partiers.

But, there has been another event now paralleling that of the shutdown.  That is the demise of the Minnesota Orchestra.12Image  To summarize, management locked-out the symphony musicians last season and has done so again so far this season.  Now the conductor has announced his resignation too.13 Image  The lockout is over a roughly $6 million per year deficit.  The conductor is leaving because concerts at Carnegie Hall have been cancelled.  Allegations have been flying:14 management misled legislators (who approved a multimillion dollar subsidy for renovation of Orchestra Hall, now done), not to mention the musicians; the musicians were overpaid and expect continued inflated salaries; the orchestra is only second-tier while pay under contracts, now expired, was first-rate; management has exhibited bad faith.  Both sides are entrenched about their position.  Whichever side you sympathize with, and despite the fact that to most of us $6 million is a considerable chunk of change, it’s beginning to look like the bickering will result in the dissolution of the orchestra.15  According to the musicians, already about a fourth of the orchestra’s musicians have left.  Meanwhile, with relative ease, a $1 billion Vikings stadium on the site of the Metrodome, just over 30 years old,16 has been approved.17

Is the disconnect obvious?  Sports matter; music does not.  Sports fans, like the Republicans who mainly stay on message while holding a gun to the head of the nation (and the world) appear organized; music fans, like Democrats, find it difficult to stay on message, let alone point out the obvious: the issues Republicans say they want to stop—such as the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and national spending—are ones already decided by democratic majorities, are issues the Republcans previously supported,18 and are “ships” that have “sailed;” they are “barking up the wrong tree.”  At least one knowledgeable leader has noticed the Minnesota disconnect between the Vikings, who threatened to leave, and the Minnesota Orchestra, the management for which has been unable to reach agreement on a contract with the players that will allow the organization to exist and perform, and pointed out the obvious: that the orchestra is an asset to the Twin Cities—for jobs, the economy, bringing and keeping company headquarters and operations here, not to mention excellence in entertainment.19  It is an asset Minnesota cannot afford to lose.  One hopes sound logic will prevail and a solution will be found so that the orchestra is able to resolve its difficulties

However, what do orchestra management and perpetrators of a federal shutdown have in common?  Both are short-sighted and so focused on their own position they can’t “see the forest for the trees,” are willing to “throw the baby out with the bath water;” in other words, they are egotistical, greedy, and unwilling to compromise. Both are willing to “cost” others innocent others to make their point.  Both groups20 are “out of their league” and don’t seem to know it.  Both deserve to lose their positions.  Let’s hope they do, but that the shutdown and the Minnesota Orchestra’s contract dispute both get resolved soon, the former before the debt ceiling debates start in earnest and the latter before the state loses an orchestra.


  1. Past opportunities to resolve budget issues:
  2. Reaction to shutdown:
  3. Effects of shutdown:
  4. Shutdown broadcast:
  5. Franken joins those foregoing pay by donating check to food charity:
  6. Estimated cost of shutdown:
  7. Debt ceiling debate cost:
  8. Republican shutdown cynicism:
  9. Default costs:
  10. Refusing Congressional pay:
  11. Another insensitive Republican:
  12. Minnesota Orchestra economics:
  13. Minnesota Orchestra conductor resigns:
  14. Positions of orchestra management & musicians:
  15. Minnesota Orchestra doomed?:
  16. Vikings’ Metrodome:
  17. Vikings’ new stadium:
  18. Conservatives’ ideas:
  19. Former governor’s blog:
  20. Members of Minnesota Orchestral Association & Congress: ,

About marklofstrom

Baby-boomer aged guy who's a lawyer/fundraiser with colorful experiences, solid background, great education and more. Gay and in a relationship with a past and a future, on the go.
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