Unless some last-second deal emerges, the U.S. government will be shut down until squabbling Democrats and Republicans can reach a budget agreement. The media is filled with stories about how terrible this is. The Boston Globe even had an online headline that read, “US bracing for government shutdown no one wants.”
Are you scared of this terrible thing called a shutdown yet?
I’m ignoring my better judgment to comment on this, simply because almost anything you say about it is used as fodder by partisans of one side or the other as evidence that they’re right. But I’m not “with” either side on this.
I’m certainly not with the Democrats, who want to grow the size of government bigger and bigger and bigger, including funding the ObamaCare monster. But why would I support the Republicans, who are happy to vote for a monstrously huge government that’s almost as big, just as long as ObamaCare is delayed for a bit?
For years, Republicans have shown that they don’t oppose Big Government. They simply oppose making government quite as big as what Democrats want. And they certainly favor ever-increasing funding for the military-industrial complex that Republican President Dwight Eisenhower warned us about? (But who can trust Eisenhower? Those five-star generals are notorious peaceniks who don’t want to fund the military. Right?)
When the government “shuts down” tonight, very little will happen. Some offices, parks and museums will be closed, but the rest of the government will go right on functioning. (The Library of Congress website will shut down. That’s really saving money, huh?) We’re told that “non-essential” parts of the government will close, but I’ve always wanted to know why they exist as parts of the government if they’re not essential.
But what about the parts of government that I’d like to shut down? Those will go right on chugging along.
Will the military close down its foreign bases and quit fighting wars in other countries? Nope.
Will the Drug Enforcement Administration and various other agencies quit fighting the “war on (some) drugs”? No, they won’t.
Will we quit handing out billions of dollars in corporate welfare to various people and companies? Will the U.S. Department of Agriculture close? Will the U.S. Department of Education shut down and leave states to run their own schools? Will departments such as Commerce and Labor shut down and fire all their employees, leaving businesses and labor groups to deal with each other without their interference? Will the NSA quit snooping through our email and phone records? Will the IRS quit bugging people for money?
None of these things will happen.
I could go on and on. In other words, government isn’t really shutting down. Anyone who claims the government is shut down is lying or ignorant. No matter what the somber media might say — or what politicians piously intone — the government hasn’t shut down. It will keep right on operating — and doing the things that many of us don’t want done.
Every time there’s a “shutdown” of this sort, many conservatives are deliriously happy. Maybe they see it as meaningful or maybe they see it as symbolic. I’m not sure. As someone who’s opposed to the entire system, I don’t feel anything like that. I simply feel disappointed.
I’m disappointed that someone promises a shutdown that I know won’t happen in any meaningful way. I’m disappointed that so many people are so convinced that their lives would be fundamentally changed for the worse without the federal bureaucracy doing its thing. I’m disappointed that Republicans are the closest thing to allies I’m likely to have on the subject of reducing the size of government — and I know that they’re going to go along with some bad deal before long that will still increase the size over what it was last year. With alleged allies such as this, who needs enemies?
When the talking heads and the politicians start piously talking about how terrible it is that government is shutting down tonight, don’t believe them. Don’t believe that a shutdown would be bad. But even more fundamentally, don’t believe that a shutdown is happening.
You’re going to be told that the federal government is temporarily closed. Once again, you’re being lied to.