John Stossel

Stossel: Government Shutdown Shows Private Is Better

Shutdown teaches us that much of government is NOT essential.

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The government shutdown is now longer than any in history. The media say it's a "crisis."

The Washington Post talks talks about the "shutdown's pain." The New York Times says it's "just too much."

John Stossel says: wait a second. Looking around America, everything seems pretty normal. Life goes on. Kids still play and learn, adults still work, stock prices have actually increased during the shutdown. It's hardly the end of the world.

But he adds that the government shutdown is still a problem. For some 400,000 furloughed workers, and another 400,000 working without pay for now, the shutdown hurts.

But while New York Times columnist Paul Krugman calls it "Trump's big libertarian experiment," Stossel notes that the shutdown is not libertarian. Government's rules are still in effect, and soon workers will be paid for not working. Stossel calls that an un-libertarian experiment.

Libertarians want to permanently cut government, not shut down parts for a few weeks and then pay the workers anyway.

There are lessons to be learned from the shutdown.

Government stopped collecting trash and cleaning up public parks in DC, so volunteers stepped in to pick up trash. Without so much government, Stossel says, private citizens will often step in to do things government workers used to do.

Stossel says the shutdown highlights where some government waste can be trimmed.

Farmers don't get their "support" checks during the shutdown. But Stossel asks–why should they get checks at all? While the big subsidies go to grain and corn farmers, most fruit and vegetable farmers get no subsidies. They survive without them. Other farmers could, too.

FDA inspection of food has stopped during the shutdown. Paul Krugman asks smugly, "does contaminated food smell like freedom?"

But Stossel notes that the main reason food is safe isn't government. It's competition. Companies worry about their reputation. Just ask Chipotle, Stossel says. Their stock fell by more than half after food poisoning incidents at their stores; since then they have instituted far more food inspection than government requires.

Most food producers already do that. Beef carcasses undergo hot steam rinses, and microbiological testing goes well beyond what government requires. Market competition protects us better than rule-bound government bureaucrats.

Stossel says most of government could be done away with or privatized.

Even airport security. TSA workers aren't getting paid. But some airports (San Francisco, Orlando, Kansas City, and 19 others) privatized security. Those workers are still getting paid. They also do a better job. A leaked TSA study found that the private security agents, in test runs, are much better at detecting weapons in bags than the TSA. A congressional report found they are also faster at processing passengers.

Stossel says that while politicians bicker about $5.7 billion in wall funding (much less than 1 percent of the federal budget) what they really should worry about is that America's debt will soon reach $22 trillion because government squanders money on useless things.

At union protests, government workers say "We are essential!"

But based on the above, Stossel says: Give us a break.

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The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.