The Shutdown Shows Us How Unreliable and Harmful Government Can Really Be

“As the partial government shutdown has continued to its record-breaking length, more and more people have found themselves discomfited, inconvenienced or harmed in some way by the consequences. That has led to a rising chorus of complaints against our current form of gridlock. With it has come an interesting form of optimism from the political left—the hope that the problems due to the shutdown will convince people just how valuable the government is to each of us, which will move people toward their side of the political aisle.

Crowding Out the Private Sector

Similar logic applies to functions that would have been (and have in the past been) provided by the private sector (e.g., education and services offered by private insurers and friendly societies), but have largely been crowded out by government because of its special treatment (e.g., exemption from property taxes) coercive power (e.g., the powers of regulation and eminent domain) and access to taxpayers’ pockets for financing. In such areas, government bureaucrats who know your circumstances and preferences less well than you do, care about you less than you do, and are operating without the constraint of having to cover their bills through voluntary transactions, will predictably serve you worse, and at a higher cost, than what they crowded out. And the only away around this relies on government theft from others, which cannot meet any credible evaluation as providing “liberty and justice for all.” Just as above, if a government shutdown further eroded how well “public servants” served Americans, ensuing complaints do not demonstrate that such government functions will be considered more valuable than before as a result.”