‘Game’ over – get back to work

So we have a government again.

President Barack Obama signed legislation Wednesday night and spoke on the reopening of the government Thursday at about 11 a.m., briefly outlining where we are and where should go from here.

After the president’s speech Thursday, news outlets have been publishing and republishing his stance on the politics surrounding the 16-day shutdown: “There are no winners here.”

But why the recent talk of winners or losers?

The thousands of federal workers out of jobs during the shutdown most likely didn’t look at their temporary (or permanent, in the case of the sequester cuts) unemployment as a game.

However, NPR science correspondent Shankar Vedantam used game analysis to explain Congress’ moves as similar to the game of chicken in an Oct. 8 NPR interview.

“Two years ago, Congress set up the threat of sequester,” Vedantam said. “These were budget cuts that were so painful that they were considered unthinkable. And yet neither the Democrats nor the Republicans were willing to swerve, and the sequester went into effect. A couple of weeks ago, Republicans and Democrats were hurdling toward another game of chicken. This was a government shutdown. And, again, people said, look, it’s unthinkable we’d let the government shut down over this. And yet we did.”

Vedantam explained further that this game of chicken is a zero-sum game. The reasonable behavior is punished with loss, and the unreasonable behavior is rewarded in the win.

There’s no need to go into detail about which side was the chicken and which side wasn’t.

Luckily this chicken game is over before both sides and our country as a whole got burned. Now instead of us charging at one another, we can hopefully move forward. Cooperation is a good start.

While Obama made some valid points in his well-scripted list,