Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

The Shutdown and Liberty

Posted by M. C. on January 19, 2019

The great threat to the federal government today, which includes Congress, is the threat that the American public will not notice any significant disruption of their lives because of the furlough of 800,000 workers.

Gary North

If President Trump holds firm on the shutdown until January 20, 2021, he will have struck the greatest blow for liberty and against bureaucracy in American political history.

To achieve this, all that he has to do is nothing.

In doing this, he will have overturned a classic slogan of American politics: “You can’t beat something with nothing.”


Trump is exercising his legitimate constitutional right to do nothing. All he has to do is do nothing until January 20, 2021.

These days, Congress does not get around to passing a real budget. It just keeps passing budget extensions that last a couple of months. There is not enough agreement in Congress to produce an annual budget any longer. Gridlock is here.

These extensions are called continuing resolutions. They are now permanent. Wikipedia reports:

Between fiscal year 1977 and fiscal year 2015, Congress only passed all twelve regular appropriations bills on time in four years – fiscal years 1977, 1989, 1995, and 1997.Between 1980 and 2013, there were eight government shutdowns in the United States. Most of these shutdowns revolved around budget issues including fights over the debt ceiling and led to the furlough of certain ‘non-essential’ personnel. The majority of these fights lasted 1–2 days with a few exceptions lasting more than a week.

The article provides a list of these continuing resolutions since 2001. It goes on for pages.

The partial shutdown of the federal government began on December 22. Have you noticed any difference in your life? I notice no difference whatsoever in mine. Only if you are a government employee are you feeling any pain.

A small fraction of the government has actually been shut down. There are 800,000 civilian employees on unpaid leave, but most of them are still coming to work. There are about two million civilian employees of the U.S. government.

The FBI, the CIA, and the intelligence agencies are still on duty and being paid.

Employees of the TSA have been furloughed. But most of them are coming to work on the assumption that they will eventually receive their presently frozen salaries. About 50,000 IRS agents have been called back to work at no pay. In short, the federal government is treating its workers like dirt. It is making promises to these workers that may not be able to be fulfilled for months. “Trust us!” It all depends on how long Trump and the Democrats decide to play chicken with each other.

If it goes on for several months, tens of thousands of these workers are going to take other employment offers. They will not have any choice in the matter. They have to pay the bills. They’re going to get jobs that do not pay anywhere near as much money as the federal government pays. They’re going to have to re-enter productive society. I am reminded of the scene in Ghostbusters where the main characters are fired from the university. Harold Ramis’ character is unconcerned. Their scientific work will go on! Dan Ackroyd’s character is worried.

Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities. We didn’t have to produce anything! You’ve never been out of college. You don’t know what it’s like out there. I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results.

The great threat to the federal government today, which includes Congress, is the threat that the American public will not notice any significant disruption of their lives because of the furlough of 800,000 workers…

Be seeing you



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