Federal Shutdown: All Bad?

There is a great deal of anxiety and anger flying around in the midst of the partial government shutdown and furlough of federal workers. However, it seems to me that many people fail to see the healthy aspects of this situation. Indeed, while I see my Facebook news feed filled with complaints and woes over the embarrassment of the government shutdown, I myself find a great many reasons to celebrate.

As this interesting article from The Hill reports:

The government shutdown has all but turned off the regulatory spigot, reducing the flow of new rules from federal agencies to a trickle… Thousands of workers from U.S. regulatory agencies have been sent home indefinitely as Congress tries to reach an agreement on legislation to restart the government. Several agencies are operating with fewer than 10 percent of their usual workforce.

Regulatory activities have fallen by the wayside, as remaining workers must limit their focus to the most crucial functions to protect lives and property… More than 100 proposed regulations already forwarded to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for approval are also frozen. OIRA Administrator Howard Shelanski told Congress last week that the shutdown would diminish the office’s working personnel from 40 to two.

An extended federal government closure would delay work on a wide array of rules now in the works, including at the Labor Department, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency All but about 6 percent of the EPA’s 16,000 workers are being furloughed as result of the shutdown.

This is great news. For the first time in too long, the sinister machinations of the federal bureaucracies are grinding to a near halt. For anyone who values liberty, free trade and productive spirit, this is a dream come true.  The only way this could get better is if these bureaucracies shut their doors for good.

Defenders of the rules say that nothing less than the well-being of the American people is at stake if lawmakers are unable to end the budget impasse.

“Regulations are vital for everything from protecting the environment, to maintaining public health, to ensuring workplace safety,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said. “Anything that slows down the rule-making process… is bad for American workers, consumers and families.”

Rep. DeLauro is upset because the rule-making process has ground to a halt. That cheers me up. Anything that makes progressive politicians upset pleases me.

“You don’t have the same oversight that you would when the government’s fully funded,” said Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America. “It definitely increases the risk.”… Rachel Weintraub, the institute’s legislative director, bristled at the idea that the stoppage of regulations is a positive development. She pointed to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is down to 23 staffers from its usual 540.

“It is a dangerous statement to make that there’s any benefit to [losing] regulators who exist to protect consumers to ensure their health, safety, fairness and transparency aren’t able to do their jobs,” Weintraub said. “There is no silver lining at all.”

These complaints are music to my ears. Too bad this will probably only go on for another few weeks.

I’ll make this clear: I’m not dancing on the employment graves of federal workers. I know it sucks to get laid off. I want to see bureaucracies closed. That necessarily means federal workers get laid off. There are better employment opportunities in the private sector.

My best case scenario: The partial shutdown and furloughs continue for another few weeks, and it proves to the American Citizenry that the world does not end just because a few federal bureaucracies are shrinking operations.

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2 Comments on “Federal Shutdown: All Bad?”

  1. ivwilsoniv October 9, 2013 at 1:32 am #

    The US population has come to rely on many of these unnecessarily government-run functions and now assume that these functions couldn’t be managed any other way besides the federal government. In the short term, there may be some consequences (food safety without certain FDA regulations?), but if these things were eliminated long term, it would create so many more jobs and competition in the private sector.

    • mastodon176 October 9, 2013 at 1:41 am #

      Necessity is the mother of invention.

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