Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Shut It Down, Permanently


There is one big reason that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats will permit the federal government to remain “shut down” for too long: They’re both too afraid that the American people will discover what a wonderful thing it is that the federal government is “shut down.”

Let’s get one thing clear, however: When federal officials refer to a “shut down” of the government, they don’t really mean a total shut down. For example, they’re not about to shut down the shooting, killing, bombing, and assassinating in faraway places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Libya.

What they mean by a “shut down” is a suspension of what they call the “non-essential” functions and bureaucrats of the federal government.

Obviously what the federal government calls “non-essential” is very different from what libertarians call non-essential. Regardless, the point about non-essential highlights what we libertarians have been advocating for decades: a complete and permanent abolition of all non-essential departments and agencies of the federal government and a firing of all non-essential federal bureaucrats.

What do we libertarians call non-essential? For starters, all welfare-state and regulatory bureaucracies and bureaucrats; the drug war, together with the DEA; the Departments of Energy, Commerce, Education, Labor, Agriculture, and all the rest of the welfare-state, regulated-economy departments and agencies.

Also, all warfare-state functions, including the Department of Homeland Security. Close all the foreign bases and surrender the leasehold rights to the property. Bring all the troops home and discharge them into the private sector. Close domestic bases and dismantle the standing army, the CIA, and the military-industrial complex.

Abolish the IRS and fire all IRS personnel. Abolish the Federal Reserve and adopt a free-market monetary system.

As we libertarians have emphasized for decades, herein lies the key to a dynamic, prosperous, free-market economy, one that nurtures, but does not coerce, such values as voluntary charity and individual responsibility.

If all non-essential federal employees, including the military, were terminated, there would actually be a doubly positive economic effect. One, the American people would thereby be relieved of the tax burden needed to pay these people their salaries and fund their activities. Two, the government workers would now be in the private sector, no longer parasitically living off the fruits of others in the private sector but instead producing wealth themselves in the private sector. It would be a doubly positive economic bonanza.

Where the statists go wrong is that they honestly believe that an enormous, ever-burgeoning government sector is the key to economic prosperity. The bigger the government and the higher the government spending, they say, the more prosperity in society.

What horrible and destructive nonsense. The statists are unable to recognize that the government sector is the parasitic sector — the leach sector. It thrives off the wealth and income that is being produced by the private sector. If there were no private sector, there could be no government sector because the government sector sucks its lifeblood from the private sector.

It’s time to admit that it was a grave mistake for the American people to embrace welfarism and militarism. It was a mistake in a moral sense and in a pragmatic sense.

Using the state to take money from A to give it to B is morally wrong. Using the state to punish people for exercising free will in peaceful pursuits (e.g., the drug war) is morally wrong. Establishing a military empire under the euphemism of “defense” was horribly wrong and destructive.

It is not a coincidence that the U.S. government is now faced with ever-growing debt, taxes, spending, and inflation, not to mention financial bankruptcy on the horizon. This is what happens when a nation abandons its principles of liberty, free markets, and a constitutional republic in favor of socialism, interventionism, regulation, and empire.

The libertarians have it right: The best thing that could ever happen to our nation is if the non-essential functions of the federal government were shut down permanently. Alas, standing in the way are both Republicans and Democrats.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.