Jeff Nadel | Shutdown? Shut up
Give Me Liberty | The partial shutdown isn’t about funding — it’s about bullying Americans
October 13, 2013, 6:51 pm · Updated October 13, 2013, 11:18 pm·
Give Me Liberty
The day of reckoning arrived.
At midnight on Oct. 1, the federal government entered a “partial shutdown,” which marked the beginning of an 800,000-employee furlough — about 25 percent of the federal workforce — and the cessation of a whole host of government services.
What do I say as the government stops providing services I’ve been told I will miss? Good riddance.
National parks have been shut down, from the open-air World War II Memorial — whose metal barriers were stormed by determined veterans — to Mount Rushmore. National Park Service rangers went even further, putting up thousands of construction cones along the road to Mount Rushmore so tourists can’t even pull their cars over to take pictures.
Among the attractions the government has tried to shut down are the Mount Vernon estate and the ocean. After barricading the entryways to Mount Vernon, the National Park Service was informed — how could they possibly have known? — that Mount Vernon is privately-owned and privately-funded.
And despite the ocean being, well … the ocean, the government has tried to shut down 1,100 square miles of it in the Florida Bay, employing extra rangers just to ensure that part of the ocean isn’t used.
We might also wonder why many government agencies have put up shutdown notices on their websites, blocking access to content. When you visit a page on the Federal Trade Commission website, for example, the page will display for a second before redirecting to a shutdown page.
This means that all the content is still on the servers, the FTC is incurring the exact same cost to serve the content to users and the agency is then incurring additional costs to serve the shutdown page it’s displaying.
Why go through all that trouble? According to an Office of Management and Budget memorandum sent to the heads of all executive-branch agencies, “The determination of which services continue during [a shutdown] is not affected by whether the costs of shutdown exceed the costs of maintaining services.” Put less inanely, federal funding isn’t the issue.
This isn’t about shutting down to save money — it’s about making your life difficult to prove a point. The Washington Times recently quoted a Park Service ranger who explained: “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can.”
Of course the three golf courses that President Obama frequents at Andrews Air Force Base — and the other 231 courses operated by the United States government around the world — remain open during the shutdown, despite an annual operating price tag of at least $140 million.
If that doesn’t convince you that this is a malicious, one-sided act of political theater designed to convince Americans that they just can’t live life comfortably without their federal-government overseers, then I’m not sure what will.
This is not another episode of the kind of “shared sacrifice” often urged by the president. This is a war waged by political elites against ordinary Americans. The prize? Americans’ dependence on government.
So what happens when government partially shuts down?
Chris Cox arrived at the National Mall to voluntarily keep the grounds, mowing the lawn around the Lincoln and World War II Memorials. John and Laura Arnold donated $10 million to fund the Head Start program, which promotes school readiness for children from low-income families. The nonprofit Fisher House Foundation and Donald Trump both offered to pay the $100,000-per-family death benefits owed to relatives of fallen service members. The state of Arizona is paying to maintain the Grand Canyon, and New York is paying to re-open the Statue of Liberty.
We are proving to ourselves that we can live — quite successfully and comfortably — without many federal government services. For many other essential services, we’re seeing that the private sector is more than equipped to step up when the economy is unfettered by the government. Shouldn’t this make us ask what else we’re paying for that we might not need?
If your life didn’t end on Oct. 1, good news: You aren’t dependent on the federal government. Politicians don’t want you to realize that life goes on without their busybody nannying and rule-making. But it does. And America is so much greater than its government.
Jeffrey Nadel is a College junior from Boca Raton, Fla. His email address is email@example.com. Follow him @theseends. “Give Me Liberty” appears every other Monday.