The phone company is going about it all wrong: The Washington, D.C., area is getting a new area code (771), and instead of fending off complaints because new lines aren’t getting the traditional 202, they should charge more for the new one. That way, the customer can avoid being associated with Washington, the seat of national government. Is it any wonder there’s no argument when the District of Columbia is called “the Swamp,” where progress goes to die in a quagmire of corruption, ineptitude and bureaucracy? Once again, we’ve faced the threat of that very government shutting down — well, not shutting down fully, more like partially. Essential services will continue, like military and federal law enforcement, etc., and lifesaving financial services continue. But unessential services — and that includes most of them — will by law expire, because Congress can’t get its act together. We will put off a discussion about why so much of the nation’s business is “unessential”; that’s for another day. But a government shutdown means the poor schlub who’s “essential” must work but not get paid right away, while Mr. and Ms. Unessential don’t work but will eventually get paid, just not right away. It’s a huge amount of bother for nothing, and expensive, too. But that’s not the worst of it. There’s this little thingy called the debt limit, or debt ceiling. And we’ve already punched right through it, but not really. Our money people are doing a little check kiting. In addition to…

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