Well, this is awkward.
The federal government has been shut down for three weeks now and it is hard to find a single tax-paying, Average-Joe citizen who has been affected — unless, of course, you happen to work for Uncle Sam.
It is literally true that you could go from building to building along the National Mall and completely shutter a good number of federal government agencies and it would take years before the first regular American knew the departments had been killed off. (Except, of course, for the incessant, alarmist yammering about it from the left-wing media.)
Seriously, if the Department of Labor closed down tomorrow and the headquarters was imploded to make way for a beautiful city park, how long would it be before you personally felt any effect? In that case, it would be — literally — never.
Sure, it’s a big deal if you are a federal employee or a contractor who earns a living off the Byzantine web of debilitating red tape and federal bureaucratic regulations that define most of the federal government these days. Otherwise, even if you are actively looking for ways the government shutdown might affect you, it is nearly impossible.
Now, stop and think about that. Take a look at your last pay stub. Look at the percentage of your check that went to Uncle Sam. You didn’t even get to hold that money. It just got dumped right into the government coffers.
Now compare that amount of money that you spend on something else. Say, a car payment. Or bills around the house. The house note.
Now consider that you made your payment every month on that car — but you never got to drive the car you were paying for. Or you paid all your house bills but the heat never came on.
The lights never worked. Or, if they did, they came on so dimly that you couldn’t actually see the light.
What is the difference between that and dutifully paying your taxes every pay period for services from the federal government that you actually never even notice?
Obviously, there are exceedingly important, yet amorphous, things that your payment to the federal government pays for. The most important, of course, being enough aircraft carrier groups that nobody gets any funny ideas about invading our rich little island home here.
But even when it comes to this — the single most important job of the federal government — Washington fails.
Sure, we have the greatest, most powerful military ever assembled by human beings. But we have an illegal invasion of millions of immigrants across our Southern border and these people cannot even build a wall to stop it.
Of course, the idea that the federal government can be shut down for weeks and nobody notices is a matter of great alarm to the left-wing media.
So, they write wacky stories to scare you into thinking that this government shutdown is actually something terribly grave.
“Three dead in national park system as shutdown wears on.” I am not making this up. This took not one but two crack reporters from The Washington Post to think that one up.
I am not sure which is worse: Reporters so stupid that they think a federal government employee could have prevented these accidents or a couple of reporters so craven that thought it was acceptable to politicize such tragedies.
Either way, the biggest outrage in the whole sordid mess is that even though nobody seems to notice that the government has been shut down for three weeks, innocent taxpayers are still paying all the bills.
You know, if Republicans in Washington were actually serious about winning one of these government shutdowns, they should immediately introduce legislation to bar the federal government from collecting any taxes while the government is closed. No work, no pay.
Now, that is a fight that even Republicans could win.
• Contact Charles Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @charleshurt.
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