Government Shutdown cartoon

What would happen if there were a South African government shutdown?

Government Shutdown

Wonkie has been closely monitoring the curious situation in the USA with respect to the recent shutdown of government over the last two weeks. Whether the USA is setting best practice in terms of government, or comedy, South Africans would be smart to take note.

In a nutshell, the debt ceiling is the maximum amount the U.S. government can borrow from the public. The money they raise, by selling Treasury bonds publicly, is used for all manner of social services, and to pay the interest on their own debt.

The issue is that the U.S. government has already borrowed as much as is allowed by the current debt ceiling – US$16.7 Trillion. If this debt ceiling is not raised by Congress by 17 October 2013, the U.S. government will not be able to meet its basic financial obligations – i.e. pay its many employees, and repay the interest on their existing loans.

What happens when Joe Schmoe can’t make his loan payments? In short, very bad things for Joe Schmoe. The case for government is the same, except the consequences in this situation will be global. If America cannot be trusted to repay its debts, the entire global financial system will be at risk. At best, the world would wind up accelerating into a much more severe, and protracted recession.

With its well-designed political system containing strong checks and balances, Barack Obama cannot simply decide to raise the debt ceiling by himself. That decision needs to be vetted by other political institutions – in this case, by Congress. The challenge is that the Republicans (the opposition) have thrown their weight against the debt ceiling raise, using the opportunity to try to strong-arm Obama to modify some of his policies, notably on healthcare (affectionately termed Obamacare).

In short, the Republicans are negotiating on local U.S. policy issues at the expense of, well basically the world economy. Wonkie doubts that they would be stupid enough to let it reach that stage, but the world will only be sure about that a week from now.

DA e-tolls billboard

DA’s billboard: E-tolls – Proudly brought to you by the ANC

One thing is clear, the importance of having a strong opposition is evident in the USA. In South Africa, this is sorely lacking. One need only look at the pathetic state of the last election to appreciate that. Opposition parties offered nothing in terms of alternative strategy, or direction – their campaigns were almost entirely based on fear-mongering and ‘Stop Zuma‘ rhetoric.

All indications so far are that the DA has learnt nothing from its past failures. Wonkie thought the “E-tolls – proudly brought to you by the ANC” poster was witty and worth an appropriate laugh. Witnessing the moronic government reaction to it was even funnier. Still, the fact remains that this appears to follow the same strategy as the last elections – ‘vote for Us to stop ABCDE’.

What South African citizens need is a strong, unified opposition with alternative strategies to achieve the country’s big goals – credible alternatives, not just witty billboards. Failing that, a South African government shutdown may not be such a bad second choice.

COMMENT on the U.S. Government Shutdown, or South African political opposition.

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  3. Agang – Mamphela Ramphele’s Millions

COMMENT on the U.S. Government Shutdown, or South African political opposition.

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Comments

  1. I am sure that the ANC think tank is already busy try to work out how they are going to sidestep a government shut down to stay in power. All their other sidesteps are prove of this, Guptagate, Nkandla, etc.

    • McFly, Steve says:

      Ha ha ha! Pretty accurate! And they still don’t want to be associated with the e-tolls they introduced to us.

    • Tony Hopkins says:

      I only wish this could happen in South Africa. I’m sick and tired of all these foul play. There is actually the need for a government shutdown but you and I know that’s not going to happen.

      • a-maize-ingly-corny says:

        You may be right, Tony, but look how quickly the American Government machinery came back to “full-steam-ahead”once the debt ceiling had been raised and realise how long it would take to get the SA Government “workers” to return when a shutdown ended.

  2. Firstly, why is the rest of the world is [suppose] to be affected because of the USA’s financial politricks when many countries experience a much more hostile situation and soley take full responsibility without threatening to go down with the majority?

  3. What happened to the $16,7? Why is it that they have a $16,7 debt when the limit debt ceiling is below that and why are they having such a debt in the first place when we know it is the bullying states, together with the British in terms of infiltration, theft of minerals while assassinating African leaders who refuse to play their games. They put “employees” on top of their list and then “repayment of interest of loans” of which is their primary concern. It is a form of public manipulation and to show the power they have. As for recession; its volume has been increasing rapidly and easily as most people do not understand the word “recession”-self & what is really happening at that time, who’s affected by it, how aswel.

  4. OutofAfrica says:

    I wonder Wonkie, if there are enough people in ZA to form a strong enough opposition to force a shutdown. The majority are too busy guzzling at the public trough. A shutdown might just be a natural consequence when the trough runs dry.

  5. a-maize-ingly-corny says:

    “… credible alternatives, not just witty billboards. Failing that, a South African government shutdown may not be such a bad second choice.”
    True – the dearth of credible alternatives is a major problem. One thing the DA, COPE, Agang, etc., can learn from US, British and French politics is that it is not enough to oppose – you have to be able to put “positive spin” on your opposition, offering a real alternative to what is conceived of as wrong or abhorrent.
    The Republicans – being the anti-Socialists that they are – are holding the Obama Administration to ransom in a bid to win a political battle over a measure to assist the lower income level citizens – hardly their “constituency”!
    The Labour Party in England and Wales have put such positive spin on their opposition to many of the Conservative Party’s parliamentary initiatives by offering alternative solutions to problems that some of the Liberal “Ministers” (they are not called Ministers in the UK – they are Secretaries of State for … …) have openly spoken out in disagreement with the Conservative/Liberal Coalition – and this could precipitate an early General Election.
    The Far-Right party of Marie le Pen in France are convincing more and more people to oppose the policies of Francois Hollande.
    However, a South African government shutdown would truly be a sorry alternative.
    Imagine the crime rate if our all-too-inefficient Police “Service” were to shut down!
    Imagine the influx of “illegal immigrants” if the Immigration service were to shut down.
    Imagine coming under Mugabe’s thumb if the Army were shut down!
    Imagine the loss of revenue if the Customs and Excise service were to shut down.
    Imagine the joy of the stratospheric salary “earners” if SARS were to be shut down.
    Imagine a nation even MORE un-educated
    Imagine the chaos on the roads
    Imagine the rampant epidemics should the medical services be shut down.
    Oh! Wonkie – what a hideously slippery slope it would be!
    And if it happened, who would take over? the Unions? God forbid!!!

  6. a-maize-ingly-corny says:

    On behalf of the US Congress, thank you world for tuning in to our oh-so-predictable political soap opera. Be sure to tune in to the next three week episode (from 15 January to 7 February) where we guarantee that you will be holding your breath again, wondering if the Republicans will have the guts to “pull the plug” on the world’s economy this time or will they bluster to the end and then roll over and “play possum”?
    See you again in three months!

  7. To Corny, who says
    The South African government shutdown would truly be a sorry alternative.
    Imagine the crime rate if our all-too-inefficient Police “Service” were to shut down!
    Imagine the influx of “illegal immigrants” if the Immigration service were to shut down.
    Imagine coming under Mugabe’s thumb if the Army were shut down!
    Imagine the loss of revenue if the Customs and Excise service were to shut down.
    Imagine the joy of the stratospheric salary “earners” if SARS were to be shut down.
    Imagine a nation even MORE un-educated
    Imagine the chaos on the roads
    Imagine the rampant epidemics should the medical services be shut down.
    Oh! Wonkie – what a hideously slippery slope it would be!
    And if it happened, who would take over? the Unions? God forbid!!!

    Oh shit! it’s already happened.

    • a-maize-ingly-corny says:

      Not quite – SARS is still taking its “pound of flesh” (and for the under-educated masses, that’s a quote from Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice’)

  8. The United States Government gets everything free. It prints money (actually it transfers money from the federal reserve to the major banks) which it gives to the banks (quantitative easing). It then borrows that money back to finance its wars and administration. but it put a limit on how much they can borrow ($17000000000000). Therefore the banks cant lend (Give) it back, Unless the limit is raised. Because this is a circular transaction QE means they don’t actually pay.
    If you decide to ride a man eating tiger you cannot get off without being eaten and you have to keep feeding the tiger or you will be eaten. The USA has created their tiger and to not expand the credit limit is to stop feeding it

  9. Should the South African government suffer a shutdown, nobody would notice as they do nothing anyway.

  10. It is about time that Wonkie revisited e-tolls, because according to JZ Jozi is the main place ignoring other cities in SA. and because Africans are not clever enough (or too clever depending on what day it is) and because he now wants to give students a free pass (one-tolls not their final exams: maybe that too)

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