Thomas Jefferson once warned: "A government big enough to supply you with everything you need is a government big enough to take away everything that you have...."
If possible, I think most people today would prefer to avoid a government shutdown. But the looming threat of gridlock presents us with a unique opportunity to examine the role of government today and its far-reaching influence over peoples' everyday lives. Simply put, Americans are far too dependent on government. Perhaps no one has so eloquently demonstrated this fact as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
In making his case for avoiding a shutdown, Reid gave a brief rundown of just a few potential impacts of closing down the federal government:
"What if a family has worked and worked in this fragile economy and they are finally able to qualify for a home loan. Eighty percent of them, of course, are government-supported loans. They would stop; they wouldn't be able to get one. And it's not only that person wanting to buy a home. How about that person that's (sic) been trying to sell a home? Small businesses won't be able to get the loans that they need..."
America has invested so many of its basic economic functions in government that without government, the economy can't function. Why do 80 percent of American home loans come from the government? Where's the private sector? The fact of the matter is that the government has forced private banks from the marketplace and it's nearly impossible to get a private home loan these days. Additionally, new regulations on private loans prevent private banks from being able to provide capital to small businesses. In turn, determined businesses are forced to depend on the government.
"It's not only federal employees. Almost 1 million federal employees are on pins and needles right now..."
The fact that more citizens work for the government than in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined should rattle Americans to the core. We are quickly becoming a nation of takers, not makers -- and this spells economic disaster for the future of America.
"...[B]ecause [federal government workers] -- just like everybody in America -- have trouble making all their payments in a given month. They have waited a few months to buy a new car. They have been planning for a long time to take a vacation. As Mark Warner pointed out to us today, this shutdown would have a tremendous impact on the state of Virginia. This is Virginia's big weekend. It's the Cherry Blossom Festival. People plan to come here all year, and one of the things they want to do when they come here is take a walk down the Mall, go to the National Art Gallery, go to one of the great Smithsonian Museums. Won't do that; they'll close at 12:00 tonight."
I find this argument completely bogus. The Cherry Blossom Festival does bring many visitors to the DC capital region every year, but it's not like a government shutdown means the cherry trees will die. It doesn't mean the National Mall will be closed to the public. Sure some of the Smithsonian Museums may be closed, but it's not like DC doesn't have plenty of private venues for tourists to enjoy. I think it's irresponsible to hinge budget negotiations on what local attractions a couple hundred thousand tourists may or may not visit this weekend.
The bottom line is that the threat of a government shutdown should force Americans to reexamine what impact the government has in their daily lives that they otherwise might overlook and remember Jefferson's warning.
Are we relying too much on government to function?