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.

Keep It Shut Down!


Last Friday, I predicted that Washington politicians would strike a last-minute deal to prevent a “shutdown” of the federal government. They failed to reach a deal and the federal government is now “shut down.”

Okay, my prediction failed to materialize. But that’s not going to stop me from doing more predicting!

Here’s my new prediction: They are going to strike a deal real fast in order to prevent the “shutdown” from going on too long.

The reason is the same as why I issued my prediction in the first place: They can’t afford to let the American people see that the United States doesn’t fall into the ocean and isn’t taken over by the communists (or terrorists, illegal immigrants, drug dealers, Muslims, Iran, North Korea, Syria, or ISIS) when the federal government is “shut down.”

If people were to realize that we libertarians are right about dismantling the entire welfare-warfare apparatuses of the federal government, then they might start giving serious consideration to restoring a genuine free-market society and a limited-government republic to our land.

Let’s first emphasize, however, what everyone is probably realizing by now: Despite all the hoopla about the federal government “shutting down,” nothing could be further from the truth. Social Security and other “entitlement” checks keep flowing. The national-security branch of the federal government — i.e., the Pentagon, military-industrial complex, CIA, and NSA — would never permit themselves to be “shut down.” It’s only those who are labeled “non-essential” who are sent home. Lots of bureaucrats continue reporting for work. And it’s a virtual certainty that once the “shut-down” is over, everyone who was sent home will receive back pay for the time he was relaxing at home.

Oh sure, the press is reporting that National Guard units are cancelling some training exercises. Big deal. The exercises are undoubtedly designed to further the Pentagon’s imperialist agenda around the world. But even if in the unlikely case the exercises are designed to protect the United States from an invasion, it’s a big waste of time and money given that there is no possibility that the United States is going to be invaded by any nation state in the foreseeable future.

As I indicated in my article last Friday, unfortunately the “shutdown” will not interfere with the U.S. killing of foreigners by the military and the CIA, which has become a permanent feature of the federal government. The killing will continue despite the “shutdown.” This was confirmed by Col. John Thomas, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command for Middle East warzones, who said that Centcom “remains mostly unaffected because of our warfighting mission.”

Unfortunately, the shutdown will also not affect the military’s enforcement of sanctions and embargoes that target innocent civilians for economic suffering or starvation, such as those in North Korea and Iran.

The problem, of course, is that “non-essential” means something different to Washington politicians and bureaucrats than it does to us libertarians. As we have pointed out for 28 years here at FFF, every welfare-national-security state aspect of the federal government is non-essential.

After all, for more than 100 years the federal government existed without mandatory charity, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, education grants, foreign aid to dictators, income taxation, IRS, and all other parts of the federal government’s current welfare-state apparatus. Our American ancestors proved that welfare is nonessential.

For more than 100 years, the federal government also existed without drug laws, a drug war, and a DEA. Drugs were entirely legal. Thus, that confirms that the federal government can exist without a drug-war apparatus. Non-essential.

For more than 100 years, the federal government existed without an enormous, permanent, standing army, military bases in foreign countries, a military-industrial complex, a CIA, and a NSA. These all came into existence after World War II, when U.S. officials said that it was necessary for the United States to copy communist, totalitarian regimes in order to defeat them in the Cold War. Non-essential.

One of the most humorous aspects to the “shutdown” is a ludicrous New York Times article entitled “The Longer It Lasts, the More a Shutdown Could Hurt the Economy. The federal government could even use it as a propaganda puff peace to justify the permanent existence of its welfare-warfare state apparatuses.

What the article is essentially getting at is this: The federal government plays a dominant role in economic activity by virtue of the money it spends, both on welfare and on the national-security state. Countless people who depend on the welfare-warfare largess. Thus, if a “shutdown” occurs, that enormous segment of people won’t be receiving its largess and, therefore, won’t be able to spend it, which will adversely impact those businesses where they would spend it. Thus, the argument goes, the “economy” will suffer.

The federal government is not like private-sector businesses. In the private sector, businesses create wealth. In the public sector, the government confiscates privately produced wealth to run its operations and pay out its largess. While shutting down all the non-essential functions of government adversely impacts those who are on the federal dole either directly or indirectly, it also means that people in the private sector are now free to keep the money that was being confiscated from them to fund the federal largess. Thus, by shutting down the non-essential functions, the private sector suddenly experiences an enormous boon, which means that businesses are able to employ those people who formerly were on the federal dole. Equally important, the people who were on the dole stop being parasitic members of society and instead become productive members of society.

Therefore, shutting down the non-essential functions of government ends up with a doubly positive effect — more savings and productivity from private-sector people who are no longer being plundered to fund the welfare-warfare apparatus and more productivity from people who are now in the private sector and not living off a federal dole.

The best thing the American people could ever do is to shut down all the non-essential functions of the federal government, especially all the welfare-warfare state functions. That’s the key to achieving a free and prosperous society.

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.