As I write this, we’re less than two hours from a federal government shutdown. By the time you read this, it may have happened (probably) or it may have been averted (unlikely). Or maybe it will have happened and then been resolved.
While I consider the most current controversy to be little more than political theater that will ultimately be resolved with (hopefully) minimal economic damage, it’s still frustrating to have such a dysfunctional government.
Regardless, I thought it would be interesting to consider our history of government shutdowns. In case you weren’t aware, we’ve had a bunch. In fact, there have been no less than seventeen (not counting this one) federal government shutdowns.
Despite this seemingly large (at least to me) number of shutdowns, federal government shutdowns are a relatively new phenomenon. Believe it or not, we made it through our first 200 years without one. And then, it happened.
History of US government shutdowns
On September 30, 1976, the government shut down for 10 days. A year to the day later, it happened again, this time for 12 days. A month later, it happened again — for 8 days. A month after that, another shutdown for another 8 days. And then on September 30 of 1978 and 1979, we had shutdowns of 18 and 11 days.
In the 1980s, we had eight more shutdowns, though they ranged in length from just one to three days. In 1990 we had another short shutdown of three days. And finally, in 1995, we had two shutdowns in close succession.
The first was a 5 day shutdown the week before Thanksgiving. The second was a 21 day shutdown from mid-December to early January of 1996. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, I guess. And that’s it…
The government has managed to remain open for business for the subsequent 18+ years. Until now. Running the numbers, the our past shutdowns have averaged roughly 6.5 days each. This time around? Only time will tell…
Share your thoughts
At the risk of opening a can of worms, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts about all of this. So please leave a comment if you’re so inclined. Just keep it civil and don’t make me regret opening this up for discussion. 😉