RSS
5 under-the-radar effects of the government shutdown
No baby pandas for you, America
 
D.C. is two weeks away from an influx of literal garbage.
D.C. is two weeks away from an influx of literal garbage. (Courtesy Shutterstock)

After failing to reach an agreement on a federal spending bill by midnight Monday, the federal government started on Tuesday the process of furloughing all employees and services deemed not "essential."

This means derailed plans for Americans of all stripes: Elderly people can't apply for Medicare or Social Security benefits, start-ups will be unable to get new small business loans, and anyone planning a vacation to the Grand Canyon will have to reschedule their trips.

On top of those disruptions will be a long list of smaller annoyances, ones that won't necessarily punish the elderly or dramatically slow economic growth — but will nevertheless leave some people fuming. Here are five:

1. The National Zoo's panda cam went dark

Like videos of a shaky white panda cubs? Too bad. The panda cam at D.C.'s National Zoo that served as a portal to the den of Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, and their brand new little cub went black today — the cutest casualty of lawmakers' failures. Of The Smithsonian's 4,200 employees, fewer than 700 will be working through the shutdown. Rest assured, some of those will be around to make sure the First Panda Family is cared for.

2. NASA's Astroid Watch has stopped tweeting

@AstroidWatch tweets information from NASA'S Jet Propulsion Laboratory about "NASA's efforts to detect, track & characterize potentially hazardous asteroids & comets that could approach Earth." Yesterday, it tweeted the above message. So...in the event that an asteroid starts speeding our way during the shutdown, the human race will not receive a warning via Twitter.

3. The garbage man will not come in D.C....starting in two weeks

Unlike the rest of America's cities, Washington, D.C.'s budget has to be approved by Congress — so in the event of a federal shutdown, local services get the boot. Thankfully for residents, D.C. has two weeks of money on hand for such an event. But if those two weeks run out (remember: The 1996 shutdown lasted 21 days), trash collectors will be furloughed along with the rest of them. A potential upside: Maybe if the streets start smelling like trash, Congress will be motivated to compromise?

4. You won't be able to get that gun permit you've always wanted

If you've been procrastinating on getting a hunting permit, you might be out of luck for awhile. A shutdown would affect the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. That means a permit, which requires federal background checks, "won't happen any time soon if this goes on for a while," says CNN.

5. Crew team practice is canceled indefinitely (if it uses a boathouse on federal land)

Most teenagers won't feel the effects of a government shutdown — they'll still have to go to school. But high school rowers whose boathouses happen to be on the Anacostia and Potomac rivers will have to lay down their oars for the length of the shutdown.

 
Carmel Lobello is the business editor at TheWeek.com. Previously, she was an editor at DeathandTaxesMag.com.

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week