Things to Think About During the Shutdown

The New York Times considers the implications of a government "shutdown" that looks increasingly likely this week. As the Times explains, the government does not actually shut down during a shutdown; only its "nonessential" functions do. The question that immediately springs to the libertarian mind is why government, which is a kind of force that is ultimately backed by the threat of violence, should be used to accomplish nonessential goals in the first place. That does not mean we should let the government go unfunded forever (although the thought is tempting). After a few weeks, for instance, the federal courts will run out of the civil filing fees that keep them going when their usual funding is cut off, and they are a branch of government that is essential, constitutional, and morally legitimate (assuming that government itself is). And while I have already received my income tax refund (thanks, Commissioner Shulman!), that does not mean I relish the thought that other Americans won't get theirs until after the budget impasse is resolved (although they really should have planned ahead and filed earlier). Furthermore, some of the functions the government deems vital enough to keep going during a shutdown (e.g., intercepting politically incorrect intoxicants) are neither essential nor morally legitimate. But as a first approximation, the prioritization demanded when the flow of funds slows to a trickle helps distinguish between the federal government's "core constitutional roles" and everything else.

The saddest scenario envisioned by the Times involves a Cincinnati woman who is driving to Washington, D.C., on Friday with her family and plans to visit the Smithsonian Institution. When she gets there, the Times gravely informs us, she may be greeted by paper signs that say "Closed Due to Government Shutdown." Tragic as that would be, I have to ask why the hell the government needs to run a set of museums that paying customers are so eager to visit. Ditto the National Zoo and the national parks, which also will close temporarily in the event of a shutdown. If people really value such facilities, they would be willing to pay for private versions of them, whether as customers or as patrons. If they don't, how can it be right to forcibly take their money and use it for these decidedly nonessential purposes?

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  • omg||

    and morally legitimate (assuming that government itself is)

    That is a big assumption.

  • ||

    All morning Bloomberg has been beating the "No Tax Refunds!!" drum. If the government shuts down, the IRS won't be able to process returns, and millions of refunds will be delayed.

    And you know what that means.

    SOMALIA!

  • DNS||

    and millions of refunds will be delayed.

    And, pray tell, how many of those people expecting refunds actually paid taxes (not to mention Government Electric)? And those precious EIC's...

  • ||

    If you are talking about the millions of EITC and child tax credit recipients that routinely have nothing withheld from their paychecks but get "refunds" of more than $5K, they probably filed as soon as they got their w-2's or figured out how to fake the appropriate amount of schedule C income. They've already spent their government largesse and are eagerly looking for the next handout.

  • ||

    If you filed for the Firsttime Buyers Tax Credit like myself, you've already been waiting 6 weeks for your tax refund since you had to file it by mail. Serves me right for going along with the scam though. I thought the Kenyan Prince was WAY more trustworthy than that Nigerian one.

  • ||

    I played my cards right by reducing my withholdings as much as possible and putting the difference in a savings account so I could make the interest instead of the guv'mint. As such, most of my "refund" is already in my possession.

  • Scooby||

    How much interest are you making on that? I hope it's enough to buy at least a twelver of good beer.

  • Brett L||

    Fuckit. I'm a 1099 contractor. Does this mean they won't process my final check or my 1st quaterly payment? Because I don't mind holding the money for a couple weeks if necessary.

  • ||

    While giving back money that was overpaid is nonessential, taking your money is essential.

  • Almanian||

    Yet another reason I always make sure to owe the gummint money on April 15. Mrs. Almanian finally understands that a tax refund is not the same as my annual bonus from work...

  • Chupacabra||

    I struggle every year to convince my wife this. I have not yet succeeded.

  • cynical||

    TBH, my money's safer with the government for a while than my wife. A little bit more in every paycheck will just inflate the monthly budget, a big check goes into savings or paying down debt.

  • ||

    If people really value such facilities, they would be willing to pay for private versions of them, whether as customers or as patrons. If they don't, how can it be right to forcibly take their money and use it for these decidedly nonessential purposes?

    Oh, and I suppose you think there should be a roller coaster in Yellowstone and a Disneyland Alaska in Denali???

    Also, fuck your little snarky comment about how we should have filed sooner. The law says until April 15, and as that date looms closer I keep thinking to myself, "why the hell should I even file. Income taxes are a fucking scam."

  • DNS||

    "why the hell should I even file. Income taxes are a fucking scam."

    That's what Wesley Snipes thought.

  • ||

    And I love him even more for it, no homo.

  • ||

    Actually, it's April 18th this year.

  • Brett L||

    What? No Patriot's Day exemption. I am dissapoint.

  • ||

    a roller coaster through the grand canyon would be cool

  • ||

    Some of us couldn't file taxes earlier because of the clusterfuck that is the tax code. I know in my case, I had to wait until early March because an essential form was delayed by the IRS. Even then, I had to mail it instead of filing electronically because of the changes.

  • omg||

    Yeah, I was delayed by the IRS as well to wait for a form.

    Then I went to H&R block, what a goddamn scam. Paid $140 to explain to the person working my return what the difference between total annual interest and total all-time interest was.

  • Ska||

    If you're explaining tax prep to your preparer, you should probably just spend 40 bucks on turbo tax.

  • omg||

    I'm not long off my parents as a dependent, and this was my first tax return I was doing on my own. It was also the last I'll be doing with H&R block...

    I sort of figured going to someone would be easy then using the software. Turns out it isn't.

  • Wacky Hermit||

    Use TaxAct.com, it's free. If you want you can pay to e-file, but the return prep is totally free. Or, if your taxes are quite simple, can follow directions like the ones on the FAFSA, and calculators don't defeat you, it's not that hard to do your own 1040-EZ or 1040A.

  • Robert||

    I had to wait for a W-2C from the NYC Bd. of Elections because last year IRS told them the inspectors were employees and a check that was supposed to be sent to me was "lost" and I still don't know what reason I'm supposed to give on form 8919.

  • Brett L||

    "Bureaucratic Incompetence"

  • Deputy Chief Duane T. Robinson||

    Shut it down. Shut it down now.

  • Hans Gruber||

    It is Christmas, Theo. It is the time of miracles.

  • Cyto||

    The parks one is hilarious. I remember the last time around they had people out locking up gates to close parks where no attendants are on duty and there is a collection box for fees. So net-net they lost money by closing the park.

    But they did get to piss off a few citizens who wanted to hike in the woods and blame it on their political opponents, so I guess it was worth it.

    No shutting down the department of commerce though. Or Education. Or the FCC.

    What exactly is "essential" about any of those departments for any arbitrary 30 day period? What about the White House and Congress? Are all those staffers essential?

    They really, really don't want me running things. I'd be more in line with Paul's budget goals if you dared me with a shutdown.

  • ||

    Every level of government always does this come budget crunch time--threatens popular, highly visible public programs. Parks, libraries, public prostitutes.

  • Almanian||

    But...but...police and fire department. School busses!

    ROOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDZZZ!!1111!!1!!!1!!!!111!

  • ||

    Somalia. You forgot Soooommmmmaaaallliiiaaa!!!!!

  • cynical||

    "The parks one is hilarious. I remember the last time around they had people out locking up gates to close parks where no attendants are on duty and there is a collection box for fees. So net-net they lost money by closing the park."

    On the other hand, if government employees can't work, then they can't exactly stop someone with a pair of bolt cutters from just opening the park back up themselves. Of course, our citizens are pussies, so I imagine they would be stymied by a sign commanding them not to enter.

  • Cyto||

    Actually, in the case I'm thinking of the government stepped up patrols to be sure nobody was using the parks in question. So they actually spent more on those parks in order to ensure that they remained closed. And the fees from parking were turning a profit anyway. Double irony, redoubled.

    The only surprising bit is that nobody of consequence called them on it. Ok, I take it back. I wasn't really all that surprised anymore. After Gingrich vs Clinton; on government shutdowns you can't surprise me on this stuff. The Clinton administration plainly stated, and the 4th estate reported, that their strategy was to shut down the government and blame it on the republicans. Then two weeks later the same press told me that the republicans callously shut down the government.

  • ||

    Tax refund? What's that?

    /just finished mailing quarterly payment

  • Invisible Finger||

    I'm not buying the idea that tax refunds can't happen during a shutdown. because revenue will still be coming in - I guarantee my paycheck will still have federal tax withheld from it, and my gf will still have to pay her monthly business taxes. There is no way that money will be in limbo.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    The lockboxes will never close. That I guarantee.

  • Abdul||

    Essential vs. non-essential:It's not really a distinction between "Government programs we can't live without even in Ron Paul's Dreamworld" and "government programs that are essential to some douche's re-election."

    If your job at the NIH is keeping the lab bunnies alive, that is essential, because the bunnies will die if you don't feed them when Government shuts down.

    Now, if you're the egghead who pumps the bunny full of oven-cleaner to see if it causes an allergic reaction, you're non-essential because the bunnies and the oven cleaner will be there when the Government re-opens. See?

  • ||

    Why do you hate bunnies, Abdul? Why don't you just go work for the TSA already!

  • ||

    But the bunnies may not be the proper age for experimentation when the lockout is over. No one cares if oven cleaner kills old bunnies.

  • ||

    Or if the bunnies can handle mega doses of HFCS.

  • ||

    Anyone deliberately receiving a tax refund is an idiot. You always want to make sure that you owe as much as possible without penalties, so that you have control over the maximum amount of your money for the year. At least then you can be investing it instead of the government doing so.

    People who go "I got a refund! It's like free money!" are retards.

  • ||

    I would prefer to not have taxes withheld, so that I have maximum amount to spend every paycheck. However, my employer only uses direct deposit, which means that the taxes have to be withheld.

  • ||

    I agree, it's a 0% loan to the gummint all year long. However, good luck figuring out which combination of withholding deductions and itemized deductions come tax time won't get you dinged next year.

  • ||

    Trial and error. It's easier for me as I don't have dependents.

  • ||

    Trial and error works best when they don't change the game on you.

  • ||

    I don't have dependents.

    That's the rub (and non-static pre-tax withholdings and changing tax laws). That and experiment that has a 15 month run time for usable output.

  • ||

    I don't have dependents.

    Lucky for them.

  • ||

    But if your income goes up and down, which my wife's does, it is hard. We hit is about 50% of the time

  • Rob||

    "I don't have dependents". What do you call the people that voted for Obama?

  • ||

    I didn't realize that withholding too little results in having to pay interest and possibly a penalty (this is the first year I intentionally tried to under-withhold and I guess it's a good thing I wasn't successful). That's even bigger bullshit than having to pay the taxes in the first place!

  • yonemoto||

    When I didn't withhold, I refused to pay interest. They never caught me, if they did, I would have taken them to court (as a grad student I wrote my own schedule) and argued before a jury that the gov't wouldn't pay me interest when they withhold.

  • ||

    I don't have a mortgage, don't run a business, don't give to charity, don't have any kids, and entertain myself only with puppets, vegetables, and peanut butter. So itemized deductions don't mean squat to me.

  • ||

    A look into the mind of.......

  • ||

    "entertain myself only with puppets, vegetables and peanut butter".

    May I suggest that you check out the Alf Forum at AlfTV.com?

  • JoJo Zeke||

    and entertain myself only with puppets, vegetables, and peanut butter.

    "Dear Penthouse Forum..."

  • ||

    The saddest scenario envisioned by the Times involves a Cincinnati woman who is driving to Washington, D.C., on Friday with her family and plans to visit the Smithsonian Institution. When she gets there, the Times gravely informs us, she may be greeted by paper signs that say "Closed Due to Government Shutdown." Tragic as that would be, I have to ask why the hell the government needs to run a set of museums that paying customers are so eager to visit.

    I was recently witness to a lot of huffing and puffing regarding the status of the Custer Battlefield and the Visitors' Center thereto appended, and the giant pile of mouldy "artifacts" associated with it. One particular source of concern was the horrifying spectre of privately held artifacts finding their way onto the market (Teh MARKETZES!!! GAAAAAAH!) and fetching large sums of money. Why on Earth would we allow these rags and scraps to find their way to the people who quite demonstrably value them most?

    The notion that I don't want to be forced to pay to support their cherished hobbies is incomprehensible to them.

  • Reformed Republican||

    Why on Earth would we allow these rags and scraps to find their way to the people who quite demonstrably value them most?

    Because then no one else would have access. Duh.

  • Ted S.||

    If I were President, I'd call out the National Guard or Army to keep the Smithsonian and the National Parks running. Then I'd sit back and watch the people who are counting on having closed national parks for photo opps have a conniption fit.

    Actually, I wouldn't sit back; I'd be giving tours of the White House myself, and show people the room off the Oval Office where Clinton got his BJs from Monica Lewinsky.

  • ||

    Or the White House pantry into which Michelle often retreats in order to devour some barbecue ribs.

  • Almanian||

    Is her ass getting even fatter? Cause it looks like it to me.

  • ||

    When she gets there, the Times gravely informs us, she may be greeted by paper signs that say "Closed Due to Government Shutdown."

    Oh, the humanity.

    If there were only some kind of technology she could use to gather information beforehand to avoid such a horror.

  • yonemoto||

    I don't understand, IIRC the smithsonian operates largely out of donations.

  • Old Mexican||

    Things to Think About During the Shutdown


    Roads will crumble into dust!
    Vines will grow on edifices! The jungle will reclaim its own!
    People will stop breathing and die!

    http://stylefrizz.com/img/harr.....ple-hq.jpg

    (At least, that is what lefties want us to believe...)

  • ||

    But....will dogs and cats start living together????

  • Old Mexican||

    Worse! They will become cannibals!

    Externalities, man!!!

  • Almanian||

    Thanks, OM - I borrowed for FB!

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Does the idea of mailing the government money so that they can mail some of it back strike anyone as ridiculous? If anything is a nonessential function, the bureaucrats that calculate everyone's refunds are a huge fucking waste of resources. Why not just mail in less money in the first place (for those who actually do have to mail in money)?

  • Corporate Drone||

    Bureaucrats don't really calculate our refunds; we do. We have to prove to the government that they took too much of our money and that we deserve to get some of it back.

  • ||

    Anyone deliberately receiving a tax refund is an idiot.

    Exactly. The Bloombergers eagerly pointed out the "unfair" income distribution effect of the "loss" of those refunds. What they neglected to mention was that some people are smart enough not to provide fifty-two weeks' worth of interest free loans to the government.

    For a news organization ostensibly targeted toward "sophisticated" investors and capitalists....

  • ||

    If there were only some kind of technology she could use to gather information beforehand to avoid such a horror.

    NPR has been muzzled.

    Thx, TeeBagstersdz!

  • ||

    To me, it's not a shutdown if Congress critters are still getting a paycheck.

  • Kristen||

    Hate to break it to you, but the bureaucrats will still be getting a paycheck, too, albeit a couple weeks late. They're unionized, donchya know.

  • sevo||

    TrickyVic|4.6.11 @ 11:45AM|#
    "To me, it's not a shutdown if Congress critters are still getting a paycheck."

    It is to me. I'd gladly pay them the same amount to stay home and watch daytime TV. Forever.

  • ||

    ...greeted by paper signs that say "Closed Due to Government Shutdown."

    I'm sure they had the signs from 1995 gold plated for posterity.

  • ||

    Because then no one else would have access. Duh.

    Just in case that was a "serious" reply, I would like to point out that most of that crap is locked up in the basement. Kind of like the Smithsonian.

    We should have a garage sale.

  • sevo||

    And if enough people want to see it, the owner will probably figure out a way to show it (and make money).

  • ||

    I'm sure they had the signs from 1995 gold plated for posterity.

    They're being carefully preserved in the Smithsonian's climate-controlled vaults.

  • PantsFan||

    How long has Belgium been without a functioning government?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Don't know. The media doesn't like to report success stories.

  • Spoonman.||

    Her staff was prepared to print “Closed Due to Government Shutdown” signs to tape to windows in their museums.

    Goodness, I hope they don't sprain their index fingers while doing so.

  • MNG||

    I think the problem is the word "nonessential" which means different things to different people. To anarchists police might be nonessential, to many minarchists medicare and WIC are nonessential, while for many others these things seem essential.

    My test of whether government should do something is this: is it the type of good or service that we want everyone to have some baseline of regardless of ability to pay? If yes, government, if no, market.

  • ||

    is it the type of good or service that we want everyone to have some baseline of regardless of ability to pay?

    That's not any more objective; in fact it's less. Who is "we" and what makes you think all of "we" want the same thing?

  • MNG||

    In a democracy "we" is a majority of the goverened.

  • zoltan||

    "We" live in a republic, you dolt.

  • Almanian||

    DAMN you and your quick fingers and brevity!

  • MNG||

    Ah, OK Cap'n Pedant, "we" means the representatives the governed choose. Happy?

  • zoltan||

    Every Representative chosen takes an oath to uphold the Constitution (and, in extension, to defend Constitutionally-protected rights).

  • MNG||

    Right, and those rights are determined by a super-majority of our representatives.

  • crossofcrimson||

    "Right, and those rights are determined by a super-majority of our representatives."

    Governments don't "choose" or give anyone rights. It's important to remember that.

  • ||

    It's the representatives that gave us what we got. We are so fucked.

  • ||

    """"We" live in a republic, you dolt.""

    Well, not as much of a republic as we once were. We are much more of a democracy now that we allow the citizens to vote for the President and Senators.

  • Almanian||

    I'll assume you mean the USA. Which is not a democracy - it is a constitutionally-limited, representative republic.

    Please stop making this error. You do it a lot.

  • Chupacabra||

    He can hope, can't he?

  • cynical||

    No, in the U.S., "we" is a majority of Congresspersons, if the executive branch agrees. Otherwise, it's either a supermajority, or one person with a veto. And all that assumes that the bureaucracy will faithfully and honestly execute the law and that no federal court overturns it; otherwise the power comes down to unelected bureacrats, managers, or judges.

    As for the elections that determine who directly wields power, it comes down to a plurality of voters in often-gerrymandered districts. The system generally ensures that from one to two establishment-vetted candidates are in play for any particular office.

    I might not like the sort of laws that would be passed if Representatives were just pulled from the general public of the appropriate state at random (though it might still compare favorably to our current system), but I can guarantee it would be very different from what we have now, and would probably represent a more consensual system.

  • Almanian||

    We're an anarchosyndicalist commune, where each of us takes a turn as a sort of chief executive...

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    And in a dictatorship "we" is Chairman Dickstain.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MNG,

    My test of whether government should do something is this: is it the type of good or service that we want everyone to have some baseline of regardless of ability to pay?


    You mean like yatchs? Because I want everyone to have a yatch.

    And don't start with "No, I mean something essential," because when the Universal Flood ver 2.0 comes, everybody will find a yatch to be an essential.

    Or, maybe you should become familiar with the concept of "subjective valuation" instead of coming up with these silly tests...

  • MNG||

    You want everyone to have a yacht regardless of their ability to pay? Wow, and you call me a commie.

  • sevo||

    "...regardless of their ability to pay?..."

    I see what you did there.

  • cynical||

    No, he wants everyone to have a yatch. I dunno what that is, but it sounds nasty.

  • Tony||

    You are such a strange creature... a combination of strict dogmatist and total relativist.

    If you truly believe that figuring these things out is purely subjective, then why should anyone take your word on your "no force" and "maximum individual liberty" principles?

  • MNG||

    It's occurred to me too that he fails to notice that problem...Everything everyone values is subjective except his belief that no force is horribly, objectively wrong.

  • crossofcrimson||

    "Everything everyone values is subjective except his belief that no force is horribly, objectively wrong."

    The argument, so it goes, is that justice, as a branch of ethics, can be derived apriori - through deductive reasoning. Subjective morality may or may not have anything to say about these items. This also forms the cultural basis for the division between crime and vice in Western culture (even if we're not politically faithful to the ideas - http://mises.org/media/1739/Ob.....tive-Value)

  • Really?||

    MNG that is a meaningless statement.

  • ||

    The problem is, most people don't pay attention to fiscal issues at all, and have become so habituated to high tax rates that they don't notice, and even appreciate the "free money" they get from the IRS at the end of the year in the form of a refund.

    But you can bet that they'll notice when their refund gets delayed.

  • Gen DNS X'er||

    The problem is, most people don't pay attention to fiscal issues at all

    *looks up from texting*

    Huh, what? Did you say something? Oh look! Kirstie Alley fall down!

    *points and claps like a seal*

  • Almanian||

    lulz - this is, unfortunately, my high-school aged son.

    My college-aged daughters appear, mercifully, to have progressed beyond this to some grasp of the world around them. To wit, my fave text from one of them, ever: "Fuck Joe Biden and socialized healthcare." Yeah, buddy!

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Good work sir. I wish all my classmates' dads had managed to pull that off.

  • ||

    But how do they feel about trains?

  • ||

    My test of whether government should do something is this: is it the type of good or service that we want everyone to have some baseline of regardless of ability to pay?

    I weep for you.

  • MNG||

    This seems to me to be the rationale for much of what government does. We want everyone to have basic police protection regardless of their ability to pay for it. The better off are free to suplement it with alarm systems and security guards. We want people to have access to things that foster opportunity like libraries, zoos and schools. The better off can supplement this with book purchases, safaris and tutors. The idea is that it would be inhumane and/or unfair to have people denied these things because of their inability to pay. By their very nature markets make goods available to those who pay for them, so they are not going to do this.

  • zoltan||

    It's inhumane that I don't get to see animals in cages!! Wahhhh!!!

  • MNG||

    It's inhumane and/or unfair to have certain basic opportunities for betterment denied to one because of inability to pay. You can argue visiting zoos falls within those basic opportunities.

  • DNS||

    You can argue visiting zoos falls within those basic opportunities.

    Yes, I can and no it doesn't. "Opportunities", eh? Is this the new Obamaspeak for "positive rights", like "investments" is Obamaspeak for "raising baseline, tax and spend, shovel-ready-job schemes?" You really are the most disingenuous piece of crap, MNG.

  • Tony||

    No, Obama didn't invent public education, and while the idea might be socialistic, it's not a socialist conspiracy to oppress you.

    If you want the free market to dictate people's success or failure in the world, the least we can do is give everyone an opportunity to compete.

  • ||

    Tony, you ddi not respond to my question the other day. I asked you what would you do if you were President and a bill which would restrict the ability of individuals to burn the Koran was on your desk.

    Would you sign the bill? If you did not, how could you square your refusal to do so with your position that adult, responsible leadership in governance requires compromise?

  • Tony||

    Libertymike,

    No I wouldn't sign it, as I would hope that such a law would be in violation of the first amendment. Not sure where compromise comes into it. Once it's at the president's desk, the compromising part is over.

  • zoltan||

    Yes, I can't think of anywhere, not even a city of many poor blacks that might have been struck by a hurricane, that provides an education to low-income people but isn't public.

  • crossofcrimson||

    "If you want the free market to dictate people's success or failure in the world, the least we can do is give everyone an opportunity to compete."

    The free market is not an entity that dictates anything - it's an aggregation of voluntary action culminating in trade. It may be noble to wish to "put everyone at the same starting point", but public education does not do this, and it's not clear that wanting everyone to start at the same position justifies the means used to try to achieve it in any case. We could certainly use the same logic to strip every child away from their family altogether at birth - as parents and sibling certainly have a large affect on a child's development (if anything at all does). So, apparently, there is an ethical line we're generally not willing to cross - it's just a matter of where that line is for different people. That being said, I can safely say for a good amount of people that, given other factors (of both nature and nurture) there is no amount of public education that will level the playing field, and arguably, by the looks of things, even come close to that end. Some people are simply going to be more equipped than others for success in any given area of life. And even then, intelligence is just a single factor among many. If an extremely bright person invests his life in a product or service that falls out of or never achieves favor it will not be because of a deficit of opportunity - nor will it be the "market" aggressing against him.

    In any case, the bottom line is that if your aim is to give people an equal opportunity in life, public education is a rough but incomplete attempt, even if it were to become a far more successful endeavor than it has proven to be.

  • zoltan||

    Zoos do nothing to "better" someone, though I take issue with your argument in general. You could say a publicly-paid-for prostitute is for your betterment, or a hot boyfriend with a big penis and giant wallet is for my betterment.

  • MNG||

    Again, in choosing our representatives we can determine which goods-which-are-for betterment should be available to people without regard to ability to pay and which should be available to those who can pay for them. I'd put those examples in the latter category.

  • ||

    The way our government is constructed those representatives that are elected to decide such things as which goods are for the betterment of all regardless of their ability to pay should be at the state level. The federal government has no business deciding such things, but instead they should be narrowly focused on what they are permitted to do by the Constitution. If Nevada wants to provide a live in prostitute for it's citizens, fine. Texas doesn't have to. If Vermont wants to institute single payer health care for it's citizens, fine. Florida doesn't have to. The feds can simply protect people's inalienable rights and provide for a Navy and Postal Service.

    If we are to be represented for our inherently oppressive wealth redistribution structures, 50 choices are better than 1.

  • MNG||

    I'm sure you feel the same way about gun control, right?

  • ||

    The right to bear arms, in other words the right to self-defense, is an inherent right that cannot be infringed. What part of Constitutional don't you understand? There shall be no restrictions no matter what Chuck Schumer says.

  • omg||

    I wouldn't wish police protection on my worst enemy.

  • ||

    You know, if the government didn't own Yellowstone some fuckhead like Ted Turner would and no one would be allowed in it. This is one time where I actually agree with government ownership.

  • ||

    ""You know, if the government didn't own Yellowstone some fuckhead like Ted Turner would and no one would be allowed in it.""

    Yeah, but that's true of property the government doesn't own.

  • ||

    True and Ted Turner is buying acres by the millions and turning them unproductive. I just think there are perhaps a few spots where we should prevent that from happening. Because make no mistake, the rich cultists in the enviro movement would buy up every inch they could and make it into their private playgrounds. It used to be that the people were prohibited by law from shooting game or taking so much as a stick of firewood out of the King's forrests. People like the Nature Conservancy would love to see those days return.

  • ||

    If you feel so strongly about it, you should start a Nature Enjoyment Fund and take donations to buy up land for people to use before these evil environmentalists do, and then refuse to sell it to those who would leave it fallow.

    That is how the Nature Conservancy gets their funding, by the way.

  • prolefeed||

    Basically, you want to use eminent domain to turn Turner's land over to other private parties, ala the obnoxious Kelo decision.

    How long do you think Ted Turner's money will last if he uses it to buy up land and turn it fallow?

    Or when his heirs squander their inheritance and have to sell off the lands?

    This is a self-correcting problem.

    And, if someone is outraged that you own your backyard, and are letting it go fallow (other than, you know, enjoying it), should they get to use government to confiscate it?

    Look at it this way: Ted Turner is rich enough to own a bigger backyard than you. Get over your wealth envy.

  • ||

    The nature conservancy keeps stuff in perpetuity. And yeah it is a problem when millions of otherwise productive acres are held for generations in fallow. And there is nothing to stop Ted Turner from creating a trust and leaving his land in perpetuity. That is a problem.

  • cynical||

    Aren't you just the hilarious inverse of lefties who want to undermine private property rights because they think other people are using their land too productively?

  • cynical||

    That's why the only tax should be land tax.

  • ||

    This is one time where I actually agree with government ownership.

    So, you're OK with government ownership of something you want free access to (national parks), but not OK with government ownership of something other people want free access to (public schools).

  • ||

    I don't have a problem with public schools. I think ours are failures. but the concept is not a bad one, just the execution. They used to not be failures.

  • cynical||

    Hey, it makes sense. That's why all our food is grown by the government.

  • Kristen||

    From a friend's Facebook

    Stop politicking and get to work for your constituents, the working stiffs need our government to continue on

    I'm just desperately trying to figure out why Joe Working Stiff so desperately needs the Feds, and that without the Feds poor Joe's life woudl cease to exist in any meaningful way?

  • Almanian||

    Maybe the Working Stiffs® "need" them. I, as a bourgeous capitalist management pig, do not.

    *replaces monocle*

  • sevo||

    "Stop politicking and get to work for your constituents,"

    On top of that, what does s/he think politicos do at work if not politicking?

  • Almanian||

    Looking at online porn?

  • Almanian||

    Or is that just the law-enforcement wing of the gummint?

  • Kristen||

    Fucking interns?

  • yonemoto||

    I like the way you think. Want to come intern with me?

  • Almanian||

    I just keep thinking of the line from the aluminum casting dept mgr when we were having some trouble with the operation:

    "Shut 'er down, Clancy, she's a-pumpin' mud."

    Why, that exactly describes government all levels. So by all means - shut 'er down, Clancy!

  • ||

    "If people really value such facilities, they would be willing to pay for private versions of them, whether as customers or as patrons."

    Because that wouldn't allow Congress to rob the revenue. National Parks and such generate a lot of revenue, which goes directly into the treasury instead of to support the park.

  • ||

    The thing that's funny to me is that the government itself has to figure out what is "essential". Given what the word "essential" means you would think it wouldn't be so hard to figure out. But the government is doing so much in every facet of our lives that they can't even keep track of it all.

  • ||

    We need a shut down for like two or three months. At first people would be outraged. Then it would gradually dawn on them nothing much has changed without the government. Either close it for months or don't close it at all. The short shutdowns just allow people to claim "see we saved you from those evil anarchists" without any time to prove them wrong.

  • ||

    There is nothing objectively evil about anarchism. One cannot say the same thing about the state.

  • MNG||

    It's not about objectively evil in either case but about which case better promotes and protects human welfare. If anarchy does that better than having a government, then sign me up.

  • cynical||

    I think it's more about net versus gross evil. If you assume that coercion per se is evil, then government (unlike anarchy) necessarily involves some gross evil. However, depending how that coercion is used and what people do as a result, either government or anarchy may result in more net evil.

  • crossofcrimson||

    "I think it's more about net versus gross evil."

    That's certainly the case if you're a consequentialist - but even in those circles it only gets you so far =)

  • ||

    If you think having NO federal government is going to matter, perhaps you've forgotten these little things called states and counties and cities that keep plugging away finding ways to spend money on people in exchange for votes.

  • The Ingenious Hidalgo||

    Human welfare is...? This definition of welfare is correct because...? Welfare is good because...?

  • NoVAHockey||

    As a DC area resident, I'm looking forward to less traffic during rush hour.

  • Ray Pamee||

    If people really value such facilities, they would be willing to have other people pay for private versions of them

  • ||

    I can't defend the National Gallery of Art, but I can defend the Smithsonian on at least somewhat libertarian grounds - setting up the museums was the price of accepting Smithson's bequest of gold coins, which were necessary for the fledgling America to mint its own money.

    So, to the extent that the government engages in a non-libertarian function through the Smithsonian, it's the price of the government being a market participant.

  • Max||

    The libertarian methodology

    1. Simplify
    2. Exaggerate
    3. Pontificate.

  • ||

    The statist methodology:

    1. Submit
    2. Or
    3. Die

  • prolefeed||

    4. ???

    5. Profit!

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Max's methodology:

    1. Fap

  • Almanian||

    That right there made me LOL

  • VoteMuslimNoPork||

    I don't see how tax returns are not an essential part of government, but the FCC is ... fucking hell

  • hmm||

    Anyone have a link to the OMB list of things that don't shut down? I remember seeing a list, not sure if it was OMB or someone else who made it.

  • prolefeed||

    If people really value such facilities, they would be willing to pay for private versions of them, whether as customers or as patrons.

    Thanks for inadvertently conceding the anarchist POV. Why should the government do ANYTHING that can't be financed by fees that willing buyers would pay for in exchange for those services, despite private competing providers?

  • MNG||

    Because it would be horribly monstrous to, say, leave those unable to pay for protection from being beaten and raped by roving gangs to simply be beaten and raped. The "horror" of taking some property from everyone to fund a force to prevent that is outweighed by the horrors of leaving them to that fate.

  • ||

    Why? You and the many people like you would be free to provide civil defense and police forces to protect the same people that are protected now...even if now people are not really all that protected. Someone showing up after a crime has been committed isn't really a protector. For that you'd need a bodyguard or two.

  • MNG||

    There's a couple answers to that. One is that if you can show me that anarchy would, with charity, provide that stuff for all people regardless of ability to pay better than government, then sure, ok. But even then you get a second answer, that kind of thing creates a perverse incentive to not help out, as you'd get an advantage over those who do help. If everyone has to help that is avoided.

  • ||

    There are currently advantages to not doing a damn thing for yourself when others are having their income taken from them to provide for you. Which one is better? There are more than enough liberals and progressives to provide for the part of the society they want to help and more than enough conservatives to provide for the part of society they want to help. All to be done without the inherent waste and corruption of government, or at least drastically reduced. Some people would not help anyone, but without the government to spend money oppressing the drug buyers and sellers, hookers, etc. the income of the selfish wouldn't be necessary. The selfish may be reinvesting that savings into their growing business and employing more people. Americans are very generous people. It need not be forced.

  • ||

    You act like the hordes of roving rapists and assaulters are as rampant as the masses of poor people in the country.

    I don't want to use the leftist trick of telling people how to spend their money, but people really do need to decide what's important to them and budget that in. Maybe these "poor" people who can't afford a cheap-ass place to live or healthcare shouldn't be spending $700 on an HDTV or $400 on a PS3 or XBOX360.

    I just refuse to believe that there are that many poor people that can't afford to go to a walk-in clinic at Walgreens when they get the flu. More likely they just don't want to pay for such an expense and would rather go to the emergency room and then plead "too poor to pay".

  • Tony||

    Or you could educate yourself: here and here.

    It would be quite something if you based your political worldview on a broad-brush prejudice.

  • ||

    You do know there are poor people and then there are lazy and stupid people and they are often miscalculated by government, right?

  • ||

    That was the point I was trying to make.

    "Hmm, well we are somewhat poor, but if we were poorer we could get some free stuff from the gubmint!"

  • ||

    It's too bad poverty is fucking subjective since it includes material possessions as an indicator. That's some weak sauce Tony.

  • crossofcrimson||

    You know there's more than one way (the current way) to set up law enforcement and arbitration, right?

  • cynical||

    The typical free market good or service involves a choice -- either pay for it and have it, or don't pay for it and don't have it. However, this shouldn't be taken as a given -- there are certain services that are physically difficult/expensive, once established, to deny to those that don't pay. That doesn't mean that buyers wouldn't be willing to pay for it (if having it was conditional on payment), only that they can easily avoid paying for it and thus often would not in practice.

    In such cases, there can be a net positive outcome (from the utilitarian perspective, at least) from government intervention -- in some cases, the government may use its power to compel people to pay for a service that is simply made avaialable to all (that it may or may not provide itself). In other cases, it may use its power to punish those who utilize a service without paying for it, when physically preventing the same would be difficult for the service provider (for example, IP). Obviously, interventions of that sort of are both highly political and highly corruptible, but that doesn't change the fact that they can still be beneficial, in theory and also occasionally in practice.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    although they really should have planned ahead and filed earlier

    Some of us did and are getting screwed anyways. I filed March 2, and have been told I will have to wait up to 18 weeks to get my refund because the IRS forgot people were going to start repaying the 2008 FTHBC this year and didn't program its computers to handle them. The hundreds of thousands of tax payers in this situation have been waiting for as much of two months now for the IRS to fix this problem.

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