American Elephants

The Information From a Government Shutdown May Be More Important than We Realize! by The Elephant's Child


During President Trump’s government shutdown, the partisan media daily gave us a play-by-play account of the agonies of government workers, clearly starving to death and unable to pay for food or fun. Several major banks offered no-interest loans, many DC restaurants offered free meals, and if any federal employees wanted to complain about their horrific treatment, the breathless media was right there with a microphone and a camera.

It should be a lesson to all federal workers, put aside six months of savings. Presidents do try shutdowns now and then, and it’s nice to be prepared. A few dollars at a time works. However the reality on the ground didn’t seem to indicate that furloughed employees suffered enough to satisfy the media.

Perhaps you recall President Obama’s government shutdown. He shut down all the national parks, tried to block viewpoints where people could look into national parks, and shut down federal monuments in Washington D.C. which meant that the special flights bringing elderly WWII veterans to see their monument in the nation’s capitol spoiled their visit. And younger, more able vets took it on themselves to take down the barriers. This time around the drama was all in the press, and there was no attempt to inconvenience ordinary citizens.

Of course Democrats are now trying to come up with a bill that prevents shutting down the government when Republicans are in charge while not interfering with their own ventures.

It’s all theater, of course. What a government shutdown actually does demonstrate is that there are a remarkable number of tasks performed by federal workers that would be better done by the private sector, and quite a lot that don’t need to be done at all. A correspondent for Reason said there was a story in his local paper that National Park Rangers were fining “trespassers” at sites including the Montezuma Well Indian ruins. But that wasn’t quite accurate., the site is free to enter and the small ranger station there is often unstaffed.

Air Traffic Control is, however, a job that needs to be done. A recent report from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Inspector General pointed out that Canada, the U.K. Germany and France have “commercialized their air t traffic operations via independent air navigation service providers” that “are financially self-supporting.” He added that we could learn from their experience. The Airline trade association supports privatization, and industry analysts say the shutdown gave them a bi boost.

We already know that government workers are paid significantly more than their counterparts in the private sector, for no particular reason except that it’s easy for Congress to approve constantly growing budgets. It’s not something that gets attention from their voters at election time.

Do make the effort to write to your representatives and tell them what you think. They may not read your actual letter or email, but if you are a constituent your opinion gets tallied and the fact that you troubled to write gives it extra importance. You might turn out to be an activist.

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