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Commentary: There's a simple solution to the government shutdown. Privatize it!

Almost everything the government currently does could be done better by the private sector

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The panic that ensued on social media after the government began its partial shutdown in December proves once again that the federal government's power over Americans reaches too far.

The partial shutdown is now the longest in American history.

With Americans growing increasingly dependent on the federal government for their basic needs, it's time for Americans to take a step back and realize just how much power they have relinquished.

The solution? Increased privatization.

After the House of Representatives voted to end the partial government shutdown without funding for the border wall, GOP representatives were slammed online for voting to continue the shutdown.

The pushback can seem understandable at first, since Americans rely on federal agencies daily — and largely without even realizing it. The Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Labor, and Transit are just a small list of the federal agencies impacted by the government shutdown.

Operations for these agencies have been curtailed or even ceased during the partial government shutdown. The Washington Post even estimates that 800,000 out of 2.1 million federal employees are on "unpaid status" since the shutdown began last month. Of those, 380,000 have been furloughed.

Newly elected Congressman Ben Cline, who represents Virginia's 6th District, faced heavy criticism from his constituents for voting to continue the shutdown.

"Many federal workers are your constituents, including many who voted for you. How are you serving them by voting to keep them unpaid and out of work?" one of them wrote.

Another called on Cline to distance himself from President Donald Trump and follow a different path than his predecessor, Rep. Bob Goodlatte.

"Work to open the government, don't be Trump's handmaiden like Goodlatte," the commenter said.

Rep. Denver Riggleman, who was elected to represent Virginia's 5th District in 2018, faced similar criticisms.

The angry commenters are everywhere, from Facebook posts to replies and hashtags blaming President Trump for the shutdown. However, the commenters fail to see that the partial government shutdown should be a red stop sign to the American people.

Placing the employment of millions of Americans at the whims of an ever-partisan government gives the institution more power than the founders ever intended for it to have. Furthermore, with 2.1 million people employed by the federal government, it begs the question as to why the federal government employs so many people in the first place.

The solution to the shutdown crisis? Privatize the federal agencies.

Many of the functions currently being performed by furloughed employees could feasibly be done by the private sector.

For example, the TSA's functions were performed by the private sector prior to 9/11.

Twenty-two airports in the nation have privatized security — those workers are still getting paid.

Studies also show that private security agents are better at detecting weapons in travel bags than the TSA.

In a 2010 article for Reason Magazine, American TV personality John Stossel argued that free enterprise provides more for the American people than the federal government ever will.

Stossel then gave examples of several times when the private sector served the American people better than the government.

"[F]or years there was a gap in the ring road surrounding Paris that created huge traffic problems. Then private developers made an unsolicited proposal to build a $2 billion toll tunnel in exchange for a 70-year lease to run it. They built a double-decker tunnel that fits six lanes of traffic in the space usually required for just two. The tunnel's profit-seeking owners have an incentive to keep traffic moving. They collect tolls based on congestion pricing, and tolls are collected electronically, so cars don't have to stop. The tunnel operators clear accidents quickly. Most are detected within 10 seconds — thanks to 350 cameras inside the tunnel. The private road has cut a 45-minute trip to 10 minutes."

He further bet the readers of his book, "Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity," that they could not name ONE thing that government does better than the private sector.

He has yet to pay.

Stossel also believes that the Food and Drug Administration should be privatized, arguing that food is "safe" because of competition in the market — not government regulations.

He points to Chipotle. After Chipotle's stock fell by more than half after several food poisoning incidents, the restaurant chain implemented food safety methods, including food inspection, than the federal government requires.

The partial government shutdown should show Americans that the vast majority of federal agencies should be privatized. When millions of Americans rely on the federal government for employment, food safety, transportation, and environmental protection, the government's failure to efficiently function damages operations that it should have no control over in the first place.

One last thing…
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