How will residents of Washington D.C. cope with an extended government shutdown? Not well, probably. This is not an attempt to cast aspersions--pretty much everyone here at The Atlantic Wire lives in the District, and we know ourselves and what we're capable of after a few weeks without trash collection or light rail service. It's all because of Section Eight, Clause 17 (the "Enclave Clause") of the Constitution, which gives Congress the right to run the "seat of government" (D.C.) pretty much any way it sees fit, so long as Congress picks up the tab and the seat of government is no bigger than ten square miles. During a shutdown, of course, the government can't pick up any tabs. As a result, city employees who aren't firefighters, cops, or teachers will go on ice at midnight tonight. So long DMV, so long Smithsonian, so long Jefferson Memorial tour guide. Today, Washingtonian's counted the marked time in very different ways.
The Washington City Paper, in a preemptive attempt to restore some kind of sanity, ran a shutdown Haiku contest. Some of our favorites from the sample entries offered by City Paper staffers.
- Alex Baca
A shutdown will be
A great revenue boost for
Museums that charge fees
I am so glad that
I live on the third story.
Smaller chance of rats!
- Michael Schaffer
Garbage piling upBut red state loons are smilingGov'ment's off our back
- Michael Grass
Drunken Hill staffers
Watching Rome burn with malaise
With no BlackBerries
Dumping garbage on John Boehner's Lawn*
This technically hasn't happened yet, but it will if the shutdown drags out too long. The garbage has to go somewhere, right? As of this afternoon, more than 4800 people have confirmed on Facebook that that place should be John Boehner's front lawn. (*As The Daily Caller's Alex Brown notes, this might prove difficult, as Boehner's Washington home is a basement apartment on Capitol Hill.)
Thinking about double-parking
The Atlantic's Jim Fallows and Megan McArdle weren't looking forward to the shutdown per se, but they were eager to experience city life without the threat of parking enforcement. "First good news I've heard in a week," McArdle tweeted. "[T]here's a bright side," Fallows blogged happily.
Scolding people for thinking about double parking
Think Progress's Matthew Yglesias, on the other hand, who takes traffic very, very seriously, didn't find hypothetical traffic violations funny at all. Two-hour parking time limits separate us from the animals, especially the ones that don't own cars. "Any individual driver might reasonably prefer a world in which he can get away with breaking the rules," explained Yglesias, "but if you stop enforcing the rules then everyone is going to break them. That doesn't ultimately help anyone. It seems to me that everyone would ultimately gain a lot of relief if we just faced up to the fact that space in crowded urban centers is finite and valuable, and therefore ought to be fairly expensive. Then we'd have less effort to allocate via rationing, and less temptation to break the rationing rules."
Insisting the Cherry Blossom Parade will go on as scheduled, a la the mayor from Jaws
Washington's a cherry blossom town, and it needs cherry blossom dollars. So while the government might be shut down tomorrow, that doesn't mean the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Inc., a self-described "not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting the beauty of nature and international friendship through year-round programs, events, and educational initiatives that enhance our environment, showcase arts and culture, and build community spirit" is going to cancel tomorrow's parade route just because it happens to cross some streets under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. The Washington Post reported on the planned new route this afternoon, which will "stop short of the park service’s blocks, ending at 14th Street NW, instead of 17th Street [and] bleachers already set up the blocks monitored by the park service [will] stand empty," so don't even think about yelling barracuda.
Now if you'll excuse us, we need to go hoard some canned goods.