The Underlying Assumption Is That Government Didn’t Cause These Problems.

This article made me laugh: “So You Want a Gov’t Shutdown? Let’s Have a Real One” by Jodie Allen.  It’s not supposed to be funny.  It’s supposed to be some sort of brilliant and hard-hitting critique of the impending government shutdown.  I wasn’t impressed.

Allen’s breathlessly terrified anti-government shutdown article amuses me on the basis that many of the problems it claims will overtake the United States should Republicans and Democrats not find a compromise, were in fact, government created.  For example, there’s no point in counterfeiting dollars if the legal tender paper currency has no government to recognize it. Hell, one could argue that without the backing of gold, our fiat currency is essentially counterfeited already.  Likewise, illegal immigration cannot be an issue if there are no government determined borders to enforce. If there is no nation to recognize, there is no border — it’s that simple.  The article also assumes that the FDA, USDA and CPA are doing their jobs.  The latter acronym doesn’t even correspond to an actual Federal agency.  I wonder if Ms. Allen is referring to a department of the FTC with that one?

The issue of national defense (as opposed to nation-building excursions) in the face of anarchy seems terrifying enough.  Thankfully, our Constitution does have a solution for that problem. Although it is not ideal for state militias and local police forces to pick up the slack for a collapsed national military, enough people still understand that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to allow citizens to take up arms in defense of their country, should the need arise. What about natural and man-made disasters causing devastation? Based upon previous outpourings of donations and manpower during major disasters worldwide, I have no reason to believe that the American people won’t rise to the aid of their fellow citizens in an organized manner.  That’s more than I can say for FEMA.

Does Ms. Allen really believe that businesses that depend on airports are going to forever sit still and wait patiently for government to restart, without creating private air traffic organizations?  Is she not aware of privately-developed aerotropolises around the world? Her assumption seems downright naive, especially when cities like Dubai exist.  What’s to stop such types of developments from happening if the United States government ceased its endless forays into NIMBY legislation?

Another bit of wide-eyed tidbit of paranoia in the article is the prospect of hordes of freed inmates running wild.  The prison industrial complex is far too profitable for states and businesses.  A Federal shutdown will not the the death knell of such a gravy train.  What could possibly hamper this moneymaker, is the lack of enforcement of Federal laws.  As of 2009, only 7.9% of sentenced inmates in Federal Prison were violent offenders. According to the FBI’s own data, most prisoners in Federal prisons are non-violent drug offenders who are subject to draconian mandatory minimums.  In the unlikely event of jails not being privatized, the biggest criminal threat the nation would have to face the end of the drug war is secondhand smoke from stoners toking up in the street.  As for the violent offenders, posse comitatus and vigilate behavior are still not considered obsolete in this country.

National treasures and zoo exhibits should not be much of a concern either. Private individuals and businesses who care about such things will pick up the slack. Businesses love the public relations benefits the arts provide. People in the United States tend to be too sentimental about the welfare of exhibit and companion animals to stand for the suffering of zoo beasts.

There are many problems with pure anarchy.  However, if an argument is to be made against the abolition of the Federal government, Jodie Allen isn’t winning it by assuming that government-created problems are being solved by government or by underestimating the power of human decency.  If she wants an intellectually honest argument that is absolutely bulletproof, Rich Thigpen on delivered it on Twitter: “[I] will be VERY annoyed if the Republicans shut down the government before I get my tax refund…”  I couldn’t have said it better myself, Rich.

  • John

    In physics, a lever (from French lever, “to raise”, cf. a levant) is a rigid object that is used with an appropriate fulcrum or pivot point to either multiply the mechanical force (effort) that can be applied to another object or resistance force (load), or multiply the distance and speed at which the opposite end of the rigid object travels. This leverage is also termed mechanical advantage, and is one example of the principle of moments. A lever is one of the six simple machines. — From Wikipeida.

    I can’t help but wonder in light of your response … is Ms Allen’s piece an admission that the “appropriate fulcrum” is not being used on the Federal level? … that the “weight” of Federal programs has indeed outgrown practical application?

    In short, have the laws of physics ruled upon the fundamental failure of FDR style statism?

  • Vas

    There’s reason I love science. 😀