WASHINGTON, October 1, 2013 — Beltway brawlers awake today to find that the United States government has temporarily shut down due to an impasse in negotiations between the House and Senate concerning Obamacare and the debt ceiling.
However, as we wake up we see that the sun has still risen, traffic lights are still running, and that the air we breathe has not spontaneously burst into fire, and the four horseman are not upon us.
What exactly is going to remain open? During his September 30 speech, President Obama laid it all out.
“With regard to operations that will continue, if you’re on Social Security, you will keep receiving your checks. If you’re on Medicare, your doctor will still see you. Everyone’s mail will still be delivered, and government operations related to national security or public safety will go on.”
What else do we need other than that? Could it be that the government shut down has stripped the United States government down to its “essential” functions?
If the government has to divide their employees up between “essential” and “non-essential” then does that mean that we can do without the “non-essential” employees?
Is it possible that this government shutdown shows us exactly what big government promoters fear the most, that is, that the government cut down to only essential employees can be reduced by roughly 800,000 workers? And that perhaps those other 800,000 “non-essential” jobs that can be furloughed in a time of a government shutdown can possibly be assumed by the private market?
According to the Washington Post, the average salary of a permanent government non-seasonal worker is $78,500 as of April 2013. The U.S. government is the largest employer in America with 2.1 million federal workers on its rolls, Wal-Mart is the second largest, with a U.S. payroll of 1.3 million. The average personal income of a full time worker in the U.S. is roughly $43,000, only three-fifths of the federal government average.
If the United States were to cut all non-essential employees, it could potentially save the Federal Government about $60 billion a year. The jobs those 800,000 workers do could be picked up by private companies, and the government could tax their revenue, making a good return on their investment. Different companies could vie every few years for the contracts to administer certain parts of government services, the free market could drive the prices down as more and more companies try to grab a piece of the pie, and the government would not be stuck paying $60 billion a year to non-essential employees.
President Obama and some congressional leaders have said that a shutdown will hurt large numbers of everyday American citizens. Has it occurred to anyone that the government has made itself so central to our lives that the people of the United States are struck with the fear of the unknown whenever the threat of a government shutdown occurs?
How have we made it here? How have we, a nation founded on the principles of limited government and free market enterprise, arrived at a point where the threat of a government shutdown is held over our heads with such terrible and dreadful promise that we shake at the very thought of it? How have we come to a point where we allow the government to scare us into thinking that the world will end should federally subsidized grant research, or the EPA, or any leviathan government organization should suddenly close its doors?
They warned us that national parks and monuments would be closed during a government shutdown. How much effort does it take to allow someone to walk by a monument? How much effort does it take to watch as a veteran finds his friend’s name on the Wall? Perhaps the same services could be privatized, and when the government shuts down the people could still enjoy their national monuments and parks.
They scared us with threats that the NIH will no longer be accepting patients for clinical research. How much more do you think the government pays for clinical research than a private research organization would?
They scared us by saying that business owners will see delays in raising capital. How does that not go against the very foundation of free markets and national principles? Why do free markets now depend on government support? Are markets free if they cannot operate without the government?
This government shutdown has the potential to show the American people just how sprawling the government has become, and just how much influence it has in their lives. Over the next week, look around and pay attention. Think about just how much the federal government comes into play in your life in what you can do, what you cannot do, what you can buy, what you can eat, paying your bills, sending an email, or simply watching TV.
Almost everything we do today has the dead hand of the federal government weighing upon it. Death itself is not safe from the financial undertaker of the federal government, nor is any legacy you leave behind to your loved ones.
Social security, Medicare, mail, public safety, national security — those are the things that have been left to operate, and those are the things that have been identified by the government as their basic level of responsibility. If the government can cut 800,000 “non-essential” employees in a time of financial emergency, and if those 1.3 million that are left can fulfill the functions essential to running our nation, is this really a government shutdown? What else is there for the government to do that we as private American citizens cannot do for ourselves, and do more cheaply?
For now, the sun is still shining, the birds are still chirping, and fiery death has not yet rained down upon us from the Four Horsemen who were unable to get their Social Security checks. On the lighter side traffic was a little less substantially soul crushing today, and that is just enough to make anyone in this area start their day off right.
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