Shutdown Theater – OpEd


Government shutdown? Nonsense. Only in our dreams will the U.S. government shut down. The current flap about an impending shutdown represents only the latest episode in the soap opera that stars the government as the hysterical teenage drama queen.

For fiscal year 2013, which will end in a week, estimated federal revenue is about $2.7 trillion. In real terms, this revenue is roughly equal to the amount the government spent ten years ago, in the early years of the Bush II administration.

May I remind you that in 2002-2003, the federal government was already obscenely bloated and spent money for thousands of unjust, economically and socially destructive (not to mention unconstitutional) programs and purposes. Today, without adding a dime to the public debt, the government has enough revenue to maintain that same level of bloated, destructive activity.

Yet that much is not nearly enough for the political class, which clamors to continue running up debt-financed federal expenditures until the final fool has exhausted his bank account to purchase U.S. government bonds. These annual shutdown theater performances have nothing to do with closing the government’s doors, but everything to do with loading the taxpayers and future generations of taxpayers with even greater obligations to service the debt incurred to pay for the U.S. government’s unconscionable profligacy—in effect, with transferring current resources to the rapacious political class at the expense of everyone else.

For me, shutdown can’t come too soon—and I mean a real one.

Robert Higgs

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy for The Independent Institute and Editor of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, and the University of Economics, Prague. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow for the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.

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