Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
Here's the RSS feed or subscribe to our FFF Email Update to receive Hornberger’s Blog daily.

Shutdown Anxiety


Isn’t it great seeing all those statists pacing the floor and wringing their hands over the possible “shutdown” of the federal government? Given that their entire world revolves around the federal government — which is their parent or their god — the possible shutdown of the federal government is one of the most frightening events in the life of a statist. It’s like the world coming to an end.

Of course, there really isn’t any possibility of a genuine shutdown. What are described as the “essential functions” of the federal government will continue. Of course, what U.S. officials call essential and what libertarians call essential are two completely different things. Under the shutdown, the major programs of the welfare-warfare state will continue.

What will supposedly cease are what the feds consider “non-essential” functions, with employees in those sectors being sent home.

The statists say that the government shut-down will mean economic catastrophe for America. What they mean by that is that all those laid-off federal non-essential employees won’t have their extremely generous federal salaries to spend at the mall.

Actually, however, the government shut-down would be one of the best things that could ever happen to America. In fact, if we’re lucky, the government shut-down will be permanent and all those non-essential personnel will be permanently laid off.

No longer would American taxpayers be burdened by the taxes needed to fund those non-essential people and their non-essential functions. Equally good, all these non-essential people would find jobs in the private sector, making them productive citizens rather than parasitic citizens living off the taxes that the private sector pays.

Thus, a government shutdown would be doubly positive. It would leave more savings in private hands and increase the number of productive people in the private sector. Increases in savings and productive capital are the key to rising standards of living for people in a society.

Will it happen? Unfortunately, no. Republicans are as committed to statism as Democrats are. The last thing they want to do is shut down the welfare-warfare state, including its non-essential functions. After all, if Republicans had wanted to terminate the federal government’s non-essential functions, they would have done it long ago.

Consider the excuse that Republicans are using to threaten a shutdown — Obamacare. Standard Republican claptrap. They’ll complain about this welfare reform or that welfare reform, but they’ll never challenge or question the fundamental causes of the problem — Medicare and Medicaid, medical licensure, and healthcare and insurance regulation.

That’s because Republicans believe in healthcare socialism. Their only beef is with President Obama’s reform plan. What if Obamacare was repealed? What difference would it make? We’d still have a healthcare crisis produced by healthcare socialism. What then? Are Republicans going to then call for the repeal of Medicare and Medicaid, medical licensure, and healthcare and insurance regulations? Not on your life. Like I say, they love healthcare socialism, just as they love other aspects of the welfare state. They’ll simply come up with their own statist reform plan, which will produce the same types of horrific distortions that Obamacare will produce. The problem is not Obamacare. The problem is healthcare socialism, something that all statists, both Republican and Democrat, ardently believe in.

But it is fun to watch it play out, if for no other reason than to see the deep anxiety the possible shutdown produces within statists. We all know how it ends though: The shutdown won’t last long and the welfare-warfare state will, unfortunately, soon be back in full force.

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.