People who resolve disagreements for a living examine shutdown impasse.
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Everywhere you turn, there are negotiations going on.
In Washington, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are talking past each other in an effort to end the partial government shutdown. The Yankees are in talks to retain the services of second-baseman Robinson Cano, who has asked for more than $300 million, but owner Hal Steinbrenner has declared that no one is a "must sign." In football, Giants fans are negotiating how little they'll accept for their season tickets on StubHub.
One side makes its case. The other side does the same.
Typically, that's the start of a negotiation, and sometimes it works: The Yankees re-signed manager Joe Girardi to a four-year contract on Wednesday.
But for more than a week in Washington, there has been little sign of budging.
Semi-retired labor arbitrator Barry Feiden of White Plains, N.Y., has been listening to both sides of arguments for decades and he doesn't like what he's hearing from Washington.
"I'm glued to the news, but all I see is utter confusion," he said Wednesday. "What I see is an absolute deadlock."
Having sat between intransigent parties in the past, Feiden said he knows what has to happen.
"As an arbitrator, one tries to find a solution that is not terribly bad for either party," Feiden said. "Not necessarily good for either party, so you're looking for some in-between area for them to agree on. But there are some times — and this seems to be one of them — when you're tied in by a philosophy that you can't budge from for one reason or another. An arbitrator tries to find the least harmful area."
Chappaqua attorney David A. Browde, who has handled his share of divorce cases, has sat across the table from plenty of dug-in parties.
"The problem here isn't 'I want A, B and C.' The problem here is that you have one group of people who want to kill something and one group who want to save something," Browde said. "In divorce law, you might have one side say they want $5,000 in alimony and the other side saying they can only give $3,000 and you settle on $4,000. Here you can't do that."
The debate in Washington is black and white, Browde said.
This is more a case of one spouse saying "I want that painting on the wall" and the other spouse saying "I want to burn that painting," Browde said.
What the situation lacks, both men say, is a judge to make the final call.
"My advantage is that there's always a judge we can fall back on and the judge is going to make a decision. Here we don't have that."
The shutdown is affecting people's wallets across the country and seems to be changing few minds.
But it has at least one person thinking differently.
After the L.A. Dodgers eliminated the Atlanta Braves on Monday to advance to the National League Championship Series, Braves fan Paul Kaplan wrote to his congressman, Rep. Jack Kingston.
"Like you, I'm sure, I am profoundly disappointed that the Atlanta Braves lost the NLDS last night," Kaplan wrote. "And to the Dodgers — a bunch of California liberals!"
"This outrage cannot be allowed to stand. But the system has failed us. We tried to resolve this issue through traditional means: In last night's game alone, we must have sent batters to the plate at least 40 times. But just because we couldn't score enough runs, the Dodgers refuse to relinquish the title — and worse, they won't even discuss it."
Applying government-shutdown thinking to the problem, Kaplan concludes that "Congress should outlaw Major League Baseball until the Dodgers cave."