Government Shutdown 2013: Kick Back and Enjoy a Bit Less Harassment

Capitol, post-apocalypseLogan's RunAs we survey the smoking, shattered remains of the federal goverment... Oh, wait, that was a rerun of Independence Day. Awesome scene. Anyway, as we yawn and gaze on the histrionics over the government not-so-shutdown of 2013, there are definitely a few upsides to be seen. I might go so far as to venture that it's mostly upsides, but let's stick with a few highlights for now.

First, despite reports that "law enforcement" is considered essential and that we're still burdened with the usual bully-boys busting medical marijuana dispensaries and chasing technical violators of firearms regulations hither and yon, the fact is that even the alphabet soup of federal arm-twisters has seen its ranks diminished by furloughs. According to Department of Justice contingency plans (PDF), Seventeen percent of ATF employees are "not excepted" from furlough, 16 percent of FBI employees are similarly crowding Starbucks for a few days, and America will have to do without the services of 13 percent of DEA employees for the time being, among others.

DOJ contingencyU.S. Department of Justice

Fears over NSA snooping and spying on our communications can probably take a rest for a few days—at least until the spooks are back at their desks, catching up on their sexting interceptions. "The government shutdown has forced spy agencies to furlough 70 percent of their civilian employees," a senior intelligence official told The Hill's Brendan Sasso.

Hey! let that sedition run wild while you can!

ODNIODNI

Environmental Protection Agency employees are even more likely to be strolling through the park or surfing the Internet at the moment than to be hassling average Americans. EPA contingency plans suggest that only a skeleton staff is on the job at the moment, and available to raid mining camps in Alaska.

EPA contingency plansEPA

Last, but perhaps sweetest, the Internal Revenue Service is a bit short-staffed this week—an estimated 91 percent of the staff has been furloughed. According to Department of the Treasury contingency plans:

IRS would halt non-automated collections and tax processing activities, but would continue activities necessary for the protection of government property. These activities include, but are not limited to, processing tax payment remittances; computer operations necessary to prevent loss of data in process and revenue collections; retaining minimal personnel to maintain safe conditions for essential personnel; maintaining criminal law enforcement and undercover operations; and the protection of statute expiration, bankruptcy, liens and seizure cases. The IRS would halt taxpayer services such as responding to taxpayer questions, including telephone customer service functions.

Considering that the IRS doesn't consider itself bound by its own agents' tax advice, we can all probably live without that particular service. A few days of reduced shakedown potential from the IRS might be a bit like life during a Mafia Conference, when all the extortionists are off in Vegas working on their tans.

Don't be shy! Contribute your own upside stories in the comments.

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  • The Late P Brooks||

    the Internal Revenue Service is a bit short-staffed this week—an estimated 91 percent of the staff has been furloughed.

    You wouldn't want to keep revenue-generating functions up and running.
    That would be crazy.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    I think that our Lords and Masters have forgotten that the original purpose of the Internal Revenue Service was to collect tax revenue. They have been so busy with social engineering and harassment-motivated audits that they forgot the true meaning of Tax Day - taking our money so that other people can spend it.

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    "Man, you've lost your way. Remember why you took this job? It used to be about the TAXES, man. Now it's all "renewable energy deduction" this and "501(c)4 status" that. It used to be the money that was important! Now all you care about is the power. Sure, harassing people in order to act out your petty, vindictive agenda is fun, but you lost sight of the TAXES!"

  • prolefeed||

    Q: What do you call a bit less than a million federal employees being temporarily unemployed?

    A: A good start.

  • waffles||

    You're right Tucille, Independence Day is a fantastic movie.

  • eyeroller||

    Did any drone bomber pilots get furloughed?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Environmental Protection Agency employees are even more likely to be strolling through the park or surfing the Internet at the moment than to be hassling average Americans. EPA contingency plans suggest that only a skeleton staff is on the job at the moment, and available to raid mining camps in Alaska.

    Oh noez! Who will protect Erioderma Pedicellatum if not the EPA?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Conservation of bureaucratic screwing just means they'll harass us even worse when they get back. In the DOJ's case, they'll probably argue the fact you did it during the shutdown demonstrates criminal intent, since you "deliberately" timed whatever it was to avoid detection.

  • pan fried wylie||

    just like when an ice skater is spinning then retracts/extends their arms!

  • Silly ol' Bear||

    I think this is a great way to see exactly who is needed in the government! If all these people are "non-essential," why did we hire them in the first place? Think of all the money we are saving. This is the best way to reduce gov't. We should do this every year!

  • Calvin Coolidge||

    The fact that the term "non-essential government function" is not considered an oxymoron just proves how far we have let our guard slip against history's most substantial obstacle to an individual's life and liberty - the government under which they live.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Essential over what time period? There's lots of things that, if no one does them for a week, cause no problems, but create issues if no one ever does them.

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