Sunday, July 31, 2016
Government Needs an Occasional Vacation
Every time a Ted Cruz, Mike Lee or Michelle Bachman, Louis Gohmert or Marsha Blackburn dig their heels in on a point of principle (always over budget over-spending) and threaten to shut down the government, the media reacts like Chicken Little, running around proclaiming the imminent falling of the skies. But is the sky about to collapse on us if the government is forced to take a little vay-cay? How much does it hurt us if government takes a little break. It's not like they couldn't send out some social security checks during the interim. They have plenty of our money sitting in the bank with which to do that and computers to release the cash. So what's the big deal if we take a holiday from spending like drunken sailors?
Actually I should apologize to drunken sailors for that one. The government spends at a rate that would make a drunken sailor verklempt.
I've read the reports in the New York Times and the Huffing and Puffington Post castigating Republicans for the damage their brinksmanship has done to the economy. They cite a minuscule, six-tenths of a percentage drop in the Federal Reserves anticipated "growth" rate for the economy. Remember, the president can cause that big a drop just by making another one of his speeches and mentioning the word "collective" a couple of times. That economic impact of .6% doesn't mean much more than that a few nervous stock speculators saw their stock prices drop a little because other nervous stock speculators decided they didn't want to pay that much for those over-priced stocks. Some of these financial gamblers lost a little perceived value for their stocks, but if they played it smart and hung on to their stocks, most of these stock prices came back up after a while (see headline below). Standard and Poor meanwhile, worried that the shutdown of 2013 might "weigh on consumer confidence, especially among government workers that were furloughed.”
So, let me get this straight, the government shutdown worried mostly government workers? Standard and Poor tries to bring the rest of us in on it, again weighing in with a moan that, “If people (i.e. government workers) are afraid that the government policy brinkmanship will resurface again, and with it the risk of another shutdown or worse, they’ll remain afraid to open up their checkbooks.”
So, just perhaps, a shutdown might cause people to actually save some of their money instead of spending it, if only for a while. If you are one of those poor simple people who think that everybody being a little frugal and putting some money back for a rainy day is a good thing, you will find that the liberal media finds your attitude unprogressive in the worst way. People sitting on their money is something the imminent liberal economist, John Maynard Keynes, was always terrified of, as are his progressive acolytes almost a century later. The reason Keynesians like Democrats and even, sad to say, like some Republicans fear a reduction in spending is that Keynesian economic model depends on people spending steadily and paying lots of taxes, so that governments can afford to meddle in the economy, ostensibly to keep the economy stable. If people are left to their own economic devices, Keynes posits that things will be "very bad". Theoretically, a government shutdown should do serious damage to the economy if you buy into Keynesian economics.
Turns out, though, that when the talking heads and government agencies tot up the "damage" caused by the sixteen day 2013 shutdown, they figure it cost the economy around $21 billion. Sounds terrible right? In describing the impact, however, they mention casually (hoping you don't notice) that during the shutdown, the government didn't spend 10 billion dollars a week. Let's see. Let me add that up in my head. That works out to a little over 1.42 billion per day. Multiply by 16 days and you get around 22.8 billion dollars the government didn't spend. That's a bit more than 21 billion in taxpayer dollars that the government was unable to spend during the shutdown (you can't keep them from spending altogether so they did manage to apparently spend at least 1.8 billion dollars somehow.
And when it was all said and done, in 2013, right after the terrible 16 day government shutdown in October, the world went on spending and doing business quite well on its own. Some might argue that the economy bounced back nicely, perhaps with even more vigor from having had the government monkey off their back for 16 days.The CNBC (decidedly not a conservative media outlet) led it's 2013 annual year-end report with this headline:
I think someone on Wall Street should have sent thank you cards to Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Michelle Bachman, Louis Gohmert, Marsha Blackburn and the rest of those terrible Tea Party people. What do you want to bet that they didn't? So Ronald Reagan seems to have been correct when he told Johnny Carson we could send the government away for 3 weeks and not notice. Of course you don't shut down the essential stuff like the military and the air traffic controllers and such. You only send off the "nonessential" personnel.
Listen to that again. You only send off the "nonessential" personnel and shut down nonessential services during a government shutdown. Apparently those "nonessential" personnel are costing you and me 10 billion dollars a week. Does it occur to anyone else that we might could find a few things to trim from our budget since they are already neatly categorized into the "nonessential" category.
I'm living on a fixed budget, with bad knees and a disabled family member to care for. My personal budget is pretty much limited to essentials these days. I understand about making do without some nonessentials and getting creative with my spending. Shouldn't our government be at least a little more careful about nonessential spending? Doing so doesn't seem to harm our robust, still semi-free market economy. I think we might be able to adapt to a little frugality. We could start by putting the savings back into social security from which the Congress has been stealing for years.
This election cycle we have two candidates for "Dear Leader" lined up, both of whom are very fond of spending ?other people's money" - Clinton the taxpayer's money and Trump* his suckers, uh, investors money. Hopefully people will at least vote for down ballot conservatives like the Cruz and the rest that I mentioned above. A solid conservative block in Congress would at least have the power to shut the government down, if only for two or three weeks.
I'm with Reagan. Let's send the government on a mandatory three week vacation once in a while, if only to remind some of them that they are, after all, nonessential!
© 2016 by Tom King
* And before you Trumpians jump on me, you should read Trump's books - especially the part about using other people's money. Trump dearly loves making other people pay for his projects. He used 160 million dollars of George Soros' money to build Trump Towers in Chicago when he ran out of other other people's money.