If the Longest Ever Government Shutdown Teaches Us One Thing It’s That the Federal Government Is Too Large


A sign alerting visitors that the facility is closed is posted outside the Library of Congress in Washington on Monday morning, Jan. 22, 2018. Senators failed on Sunday to reach an agreement to end the government shutdown, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of federal employees would be furloughed Monday morning even as the outlines of a potential compromise came into focus. (Pete Marovich/The New York Times)

The current shutdown of the federal government is now the longest in the history of America.

I’ll leave it to others to debate the circumstances of this shutdown, whether President Donald Trump is right to stand firm on his demand for border wall funding, or if Democrats are right to keep the government shutdown over their opposition to making such an appropriation.

(That tends of thousands of border patrol agents are now working without pay because of this shutdown is a bit of irony I can’t let go unacknowledged.)

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]For those of us living our lives outside of the bubble of national politics, there might be a lesson in all of this pertaining to the bloated size of our federal government.[/mks_pullquote]

For those of us living our lives outside of the bubble of national politics, there might be a lesson in all of this pertaining to the bloated size of our federal government.

Case in point, one of the local impacts of the federal government shutdown is that some of our local breweries are running into distribution problems because the federal bureaucrats in charge of approving their labeling are furloughed.

But why are the feds in charge of approving beer labels anyway? The beer in question is being distributed to the various states, after all. Can’t North Dakota and Minnesota and all the rest of the states come up with their own criteria for labeling? And to the extent that it’s beneficial to have some uniformity of regulation, lest the brewing industry be crippled by the cost of complying with dozens of different criteria, couldn’t the states form a compact to settle on acceptable policy?

Here’s a question for you: Can you curse on federally regulated broadcasts during the government shutdown?

Can we sell Turkey Ham with the words “turkey” and “ham” in different fonts without the feds looking over our shoulders?

Can we now harass golfers in national parks or consult with a known pirate or use diced onions instead of sliced onions in onion rings or ride a moped into Fort Stewart with shorts on?

This particularly shutdown centers on a fundamental disagreement between Democrats and Republicans over border security – why we can’t compromise by getting tough on illegal border crossings while simultaneously making legal immigration easier is beyond me – but more generally one could argue that a lot of the rancor in Washington D.C. stems from the federal government becoming so large it is ungovernable.

If we had more local control, and fewer one-size-fits-all federal regulations, America might be a more peaceful place, politically speaking.

The solution to intransigent federal politicians might be as simple as taking power from them and redistributing it back to the states.