UPDATE 12 noon: Comments show today we are in one of those dysfunctional audience relationship posts: we assume you can read our minds, and you assume we are idiots (see end of post).
Here at Aid Watch we are definitely NOT interested in contributing to the partisan diatribe gaining force on BOTH sides of the aisle. We do wonder if the prospect of the US government shut down (still looming at time of publication) provides an experiment in feedback and accountability. Maybe the government could use the experience to get some much needed responses on what we citizens do and do not value, and then come up with very crude guidelines for future cuts and not-cuts:
UPDATE 12 noon: This is one of those days where we left unstated many assumptions and qualifications, which was conclusive proof that we are idiots.
Notice that we used the word "notice" the shutdown on public services, not "are direct beneficiaries of that service who feel its impact instantaneously and observably." We believe voters and interest groups in their "noticing" can speak up about programs even if they are not direct beneficiaries (like aid) and they are also capable of looking forward to the long run.
A blog post makes one illustrative post, it's not a Ph.D. dissertation. Our illustrative point is that the shutdown provides one kind of (highly imperfect) feedback on what public services are essential and which ones people notice (in the broader sense just described). Government programs that nobody cares about except the providers and employees and contractors for that program MAY be considered to POSSIBLY be a candidate for spending cuts or elimination.