Stossel: Next Time, Keep It Closed…

I enjoy John Stossel’s take on various things and found his piece today got me thinking a bit more about Government shutdowns. He basically champions keeping the government “shut down” and taking advantage of that timing to actually make some changes that will stay in place once the “shutdown” has ended.  He also answered a question for me in that I read erroneous information that said military pay was cut off by clarifying that the scare was fabricated in that military pay continues during these episodes.

His list of other functions that continue during a “shutdown” includes:

Law enforcement, Border Patrol, TSA, Air Traffic controllers, Amtrak, Social Security checks continue, Medicare checks continue, Medicaid continues, Food Stamps remain available, VA Hospitals continue to function, the Postal Service continues to run, Federal courts and the Environmental Protection Agency continue to function.

As with so many other things, it is the optics, the way things appear to us, that make the biggest difference…and our political parties take maximum advantage of that in these situations.  Both are guilty of playing those games even if each approaches from a different place.

Stossel opines we’d be wise to keep the things that shut down in such situations shut down so that we can make changes in the whole tax-payer financed world.  I think he is on the right track.  If we take decisive action in the times of “Shutdowns”, people are more likely to accept this new reality and politicians that dilly dally can be pinned to the wall more easily if they see the wave of public sentiment coming at them for reasons of too much spending.

Given the public dunking that Sen. Schumer (D-NY) took as he spit and sputtered, he might not be quite so anxious to “Shutdown” the government again even though the next opportunity comes in some three weeks as it now stands.

Stossel goes on to discuss the functions already available to us through non-taxed funded entities so that the “Shutdown” really need not be a critical occurrence.  He reasons that the private sector could be permitted to do more…and that would also serve to eliminate the need for quite so much in the way of taxes we get hit with annually.  Users would bear the cost of what they used, versus all of us bearing the cost of what we don’t use today.

This approach would also deprive the children in Congress the opportunity to ‘act out’ as they seem to need every once in awhile.

Among the things he suggests, which tickle my fancy, are to privatize airports and task those airports to handle the required security now the function of the TSA.  Instead of tax dollars, we’d pay for this whenever we buy a ticket to fly hither and yon.  He takes this further with privatized passenger rail service and a privatized Postal Service, as well.  We have the necessary infrastructure in place today with a minor amount of tweaking.

He closes his treatise with a couple of compelling sentences:  “Government shutting down – partially – is not a disaster.  The real disaster is paying $4 Trillion a year to keep it running and getting such poor service in return.”

This ought to be food for thought for all of us, and especially for those politicians bold enough to begin the conversation on the floor of Congress.  I’d wager those politicians bold enough to go against what they’ve helped to build bigger and bigger every time we turn around would gather a lot of public support.



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