Something that can’t go on forever, won’t. Therefore, we won’t keep borrowing more and more forever, with stagnant economic growth. So that’s one lesson. But the other lesson can be found in the government shutdown: How many people really noticed?
The answer, of course, is so few that the Obama administration was forced to gin up a show with “Washington Monument” strategy efforts like closing war memorials and national parks, cutting off death benefits for dead troops, and the like in an effort to get people to care. These efforts seem mostly to have succeeded in driving Obama’s poll numbers down to 37% in an AP poll last week, as a majority of Americans concluded — correctly — that he was putting his personal political interests ahead of the nation’s.
The big lesson of the shutdown is that — in a time when so-called “draconian cuts” usually refer to mere decreases in the rate of growth of spending on programs — America was able to do without all the “non-essential” government workers just fine. (The same AP poll cited above says that 80% have felt no impact from the shutdown; a majority also oppose increasing the debt limit.) Turns out that most of those nonessential workers really are non-essential.