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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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The Government-Shutdown Joke


What a joke that government-shutdown showdown turned out to be. Didn’t I tell you last week that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats would ever permit the federal government to “shut down” for any length of time? The reason: most Americans would realize how wonderful it is, and that’s the last thing any statist, Republican or Democrat, wants them to realize.

The big dispute was finally settled in dramatic, shutdown-eve fashion with a $40 billion cut in federal spending. Whoopdeedoo! That’s the funny part of all this. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are now exclaiming, “We’re no longer big spenders. We’ve reformed. This is an historic budget-cutting agreement.”

There’s one big problem with this story, however. The amount being cut — $40 billion — amounts to nothing compared to what they’re spending.

Right now, the amount these people are spending exceeds what is being collected by about $1.5 trillion. So, what’s the significance of that historic, budget-slashing agreement on the eve of the government “shutdown”? The amount they’re spending in excess of what they’re collecting is now going to be $1.5 trillion minus $40 billion.

Big deal. They’re still piling on massive debt to the tune of more than $1.4 trillion a year.

We’ve seen how much these people care about big spending with Obama’s undeclared, unconstitutional military adventure in Libya. Planes, bombs, bullets, oil. They all have to be paid for, replenished, and resupplied. How much is all that going to cost? No one knows and no one cares. It just doesn’t matter.

So, they cut a deal to “slash” federal spending by $40 billion while they wage an undeclared war of aggression whose cost no one knows or cares about.

To put this fiscal joke in some perspective, let’s assume that your family’s annual income is $50,000. For the past decade or so, you and your spouse have been spending $250,000 per year. You’ve been borrowing the difference from the bank and taking out lots of credit cards. Your debt is now in excess of $2 million.

The bank is threatening to call the note. The credit card companies refuse to issue you a new credit card. You say to your spouse, “We have a problem. If we continue spending $250,000 this year, that will add another $200,000 to our overall debt. We can barely pay the interest on our current debt. We need to cut spending.”

Your spouse says, “I totally agree. I say we cut spending by $10,000. What do you say?” You respond, “No, that’s too extreme. I say we cut our spending by $5,000.”

So, the family enters into a dramatic discussion and debate over how much to cut spending. Finally, a deal is cut —family spending will be slashed by $8,000. So, instead of adding $200,000 to the overall debt, the family is going to add “only” $192,000 to the overall debt.

Do you see how ridiculous that is? The family needs to eliminate all its excess spending — $250,000 — plus more, in order to enable it to begin paying down the principal on the debt.

Mainstream commentators, most of whom are statists, exclaim, “If the government shuts down, the sky will fall, and the recovery will be impeded.”

More nonsense! The only sector that is affected by a shutdown is the parasitic sector — that is, the sector that receives, either directly or indirectly, a federal paycheck or largess, including government contractors.

The people who are having to pay for all this junk — that is, the private sector — would benefit enormously with no longer having to shoulder the taxes and debts to pay for the massive parasitic sector.

The best thing that could ever happen to our country is a dismantling — that is, a permanent shutdown — of all federal welfare-state, warfare-state departments, agencies, bureaucracies, and bureaucrats, as well as the agencies that fund them, i.e., the IRS and the Federal Reserve. Not only would the private sector be freed of the enormous debt, taxes, and inflation needed to sustain the parasitic sector’s massive spending, all those federal personnel would now be in the private sector producing wealth instead of parasitically sucking the lifeblood out of the private sector. That would produce a doubly positive economic effect.

Americans just need to ignore all the fear-mongering and fallacious economic thinking from the statists proclaiming that the sky is going to fall in if the welfare-warfare state is shut down and dismantled and a free-market, limited-government republic is restored to our land. God has created a consistent universe, one in which a good tree begets good fruit. We’ve seen the fruit of the statist tree, and it’s rotten.

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.