Why the Government Shutdown Doesn’t Mean a Thing to Students

Words like "furlough", shutdown" and "non-essential" have been flashed around so much, the media looks like a disco. But to paraphrase from real estate, it's all about timing, timing, timing.

There's been no shortage of hyperbole in the media about the potentially devastating consequences trickling down from the U.S. government shutdown, but with it entering its third week, it's starting to look more like all style and little substance. This isn't to say that the shutdown isn't a real, serious matter—it is—but that because of matters of geography and timing, it's just not making as big an impact as it would elsewhere.

Americans have settled into a routine of comfort, one that's envied around the world, from Kazakhstan to Canada. It's a lifestyle that first took root in the Declaration of Independence, and was nurtured through ensuing decades. Each generation took the phrase "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" to heart as something they were entitled to, a way of living that the country was based on. Each man, woman and child, as long as they were American, was automatically gifted this right and nothing, not even a governmental collapse, could take it away.

But the problem with that phrase, beautiful for its simultaneously abstract and concrete wording, is that it created a padding under each citizen. Instead of seeing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as qualities that are privileges, they've been deeply ingrained as constitutional rights. Add in Americans being kept pacified on a steady diet of "just enough to take the edge off starvation, but not enough to feel full", and the government shutdown has barely caused a ripple across the country.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it also means that Americans aren't feeling hungry enough to demand more of their government. When the Greek government starting showing cracks from promising its citizens more than it could provide, people took to the streets en masse. They had to, because their desire to strive higher and for more, and to do it so quickly, was done with hurry and imprudence; it was an act of desperation, not one of careful measurement undertaken over hundreds of years.

But just because Americans were more patient and approached matters from a different perspective doesn't change the situation, it's just muted the effects of it. Jobs may be scarce, but there still are jobs. They may not be glamorous and high-paying and plentiful, but the Share

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