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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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Go Ahead and Shut Down the Government


Despite all the tension, handwringing, and sleepless nights within official Washington and the mainstream press over the looming possibility that the federal government might be shut down, everyone can rest easy. The Democrats and the Republicans, including President Trump, are going to reach a deal that prevents the government from shutting down.

How do I know this? Because every one of these people know that if they “shut down” the federal government, nothing would happen. Or maybe I should say that only good things would happen. And that’s the last thing they want the American people to figure out. All these people have a vested interest in convincing Americans that the federal government’s massive welfare-regulatory-warfare state apparatus is essential to their survival and well-being. If Americans were to come to the realization that that’s just a lie, the jig could be up. They’re not about to take that chance.

The Washington establishment and the mainstream press learned this lesson many years ago, when the Democrats and Republicans couldn’t agree on some budget deal. The result was that the federal government actually did “shut down.”

The “shut-down” went on for several weeks. Nothing happened. Oh sure, federal bureaucrats closed some national parks and tried to make life difficult for Americans with respect to other federal services as a way to squeeze people into demanding that the federal “reopen” but basically life went on as normal for most people. The United States certainly didn’t collapse into the ocean and the communists didn’t come and take over the country.

In other words, nobody cared, except the army of Washington bureaucrats who were sent home during the “shutdown” and the mainstream press who felt that their lives were empty without the army of federal bureaucrats going to work every day. They’re not about to let that happen again because they know that the same thing would again. And once people see that life goes on despite a federal “shutdown,” even better than it did before the shutdown, they begin asking an important question, one that we libertarians asked and answered a long time ago: What do we need a massive federal welfare-regulatory-warfare apparatus for?

Let’s first keep in mind something important here. When these people get all fearful about a government “shutdown,” it’s not really a shutdown at all. That’s why I put “shutdown” in quotation marks. There are lots of federal bureaucrats within the welfare-regulatory section of the government and in the warfare-state section of the government who continue with their jobs despite the “shutdown.” At a minimum, Social Security, Medicare and other welfare-entitlement checks keep flowing. The bombs keep dropping on foreigners, the assassinations keep going, and torture and indefinite detention at Guantanamo continue. The government’s mail monopoly continues operating.

What they mean by a “shutdown” is that only what, in their opinion, are “nonessential” parts of the federal government get shut down. Now, they don’t use that term anymore. That’s because they used it during that government shutdown that I referred to above, and guess what happened. The bureaucrats who were labeled “nonessential” went into a state of psychological depression over being labeled “nonessential.” Many of them undoubtedly had to go into therapy over it. The other thing was that people began asking a simple question: If some federal program, department, agency, or bureaucrat is non-essential, why is it there?

As we libertarians hold, the best thing that could ever happen to the United States is to restore the federal government to a constitutional republic, one whose few powers would be limited to those actually enumerated in the Constitution.

That would mean no more welfare-state apparatus, regulatory programs, and mandatory-charity programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, education grants, and foreign aid to dictator-partners.

It would also mean no more national-security state apparatus, including the enormous military empire of bases, both foreign and domestic, the military-industrial complex, the CIA, and the NSA. No more foreign interventions, foreign wars, invasions, occupations, coups, sanctions, embargoes, torture, assassinations, indefinite detentions, and denial of due process of law.

No more drug war. No more Departments of Education, Agriculture, Homeland Security, and Labor, and SEC, DEA, ICE, and all the rest.

No more centrally planned, controlled, or regulated economy. A total free-enterprise economic system.

No more trade restrictions and immigration controls. Total free trade and open immigration.

No more Federal Reserve and government currency. A total free-market monetary system.

No more income tax and IRS.

That would be the greatest thing that could happen to our country. That would mean a genuinely free, prosperous, harmonious, moral, and responsible society. Example is the way to lead the world to freedom and prosperity.

If the Democrats and Republicans fail to reach a spending deal to keep the government operating, they are obviously not going to shut down all those welfare-warfare state functions. But that’s my point: Given that they are going to do a lot less that what we libertarians say needs to be shut down, nobody has anything to fear from all the fear-mongering that officials and the mainstream press are engaged in over the possibility that the federal government is going to be “shut down.”

But like I say, they’re not going to let a “shut-down” happen. They can’t afford to. They will reach a deal that unfortunately will keep the federal government open and operating, including the massive welfare-regulatory-warfare-state federal apparatus that is destroying our country.

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.