What, Exactly, Are We Losing From The Government Shutdown?

Tim Worstall, Washington Examiner

If we were to rely upon the press itself to tell us what the results of the government shutdownwere, we'd have to conclude that it saves lives. For we're being told by varied newspapers that three people have died in the understaffed national parks. Given that the average is six deaths in any one week, that would mean that 15 lives have been saved this past three weeks by there being no nonessential federal workers in those parks.

That, of course, is to be facile. But other than the toilets backing up in those same parks, we do seem to be remarkably short of bad outcomes from this process. Sure, there are a lot of people complaining they're not getting their paychecks, but us not having to pay bureaucrats is a saving to us taxpayers, not a cost.

If shutting 25 percent of the federal government saves lives and blocks u-bends then, well, do we really need all that government we generally get? It's certainly possible to argue that we don't. Not all and every little last piece of it, at least.

However, this is where we face something of a problem. For just about everyone who has ever stood for election has told us that they're going to spend our money more carefully. That they're going to cut government waste and make it all more efficient. Something that never does seem to happen. The unhappy truth being that it's not possible to salami slice a bureaucracy, that's just not the way that they work. C. Northcote Parkinson taught us that the only real activity of, the aim and purpose of, any bureaucracy is to survive and gain an ever larger budget on which to do so.


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