So i have to confess, i have not been following US politics much recently. The reactors in Japan and the community politics here, plus my own emotional dramas have kept me (til today) from paying much attention to the government shutdown which until moments ago seemed inevitable and was just averted.
Then i read a FB post which struck me. One mom i know posted that her son in Afghanistan had just been told that if the government shut down he would not get paid, despite continuing to work and fight. At first this struck me both as unfair and as politically explosive. Do the flag waiving republicans really want to be saddled with shutting down the government (mostly over abortion and corporations right to pollute) and thus not paying their fighting (mostly) boys in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya? It seemed unlikely. And since these soldier dont exactly have the option to catch a greyhound and go home and chill till the bureaucrats figure it out, this seemed pretty unreasonable.
But then my anarchist brain kicked in. It reminded me that the reason we are in in Iraq in the first place is that Bush wanted their oil for his friends and used 9/11 as an excuse to get it, despite it being clear that Iraq 1) was not responsible for the attacks on the US and 2) had no weapons of mass destruction. Then i was reminded that Obama deepened our involvement in Afghanistan because he needed to be tough in the election cycle and not because we actually believed that fighting there changes the risk of attacks on the US. Afghanistan is an unwinnable insurgent war.
So in the short term it would be terribly unfair to the soldiers to require them to work and risk their lives and not pay them. But in the middle to long term, it is quite unfair for us to put soldier in these unwinnable wars spawned by deception and national political expediency rather than any just cause (like most wars).
So i ended up coming full circle. If we are so excited about balancing the budget and cutting our costs, the first place we need to look is exactly the place we (politically) refuse to look. These crazy expensive and long lasting wars are a huge part of what is making the economy unworkable. So to avoid the government shutdown, we need to stop paying these soldiers (and their expensive general and military contractors). And the fair thing would be to bring them back home and get them to do something productive instead.