After the House and Senate were unable to resolve their differences and pass the government spending budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the federal government has begun to halt non-essential services (more on that later). A countrywide shutdown sounds like chaos...or Ron Swanson’s dream come true.
The shutdown is basically the government going into anaphylactic shock. The body is shunting blood to only the vital organs. That is, the departments and programs necessary for survival (parks and other recreation won't make the cut). Possible causes: peanuts (silly elephants just making a mess), WASPS, etc. While the effects of the shutdown won’t be immediately felt by most Americans, they will eventuall. You should know what's going on, and What the Government Shutdown Actually Means For You.