Two Thoughts on the Government Shut-Down

by Don Boudreaux on October 1, 2013

in Current Affairs

Reports by the D.C.-area news media on the shut-down of Uncle Sam focus almost exclusively on the impact of the shut-down on federal-government workers.  While it’s perfectly understandable that these workers are angry over the prospect of lost (or delayed) pay, the ostensible purpose of government is not to employ people.  That ostensible purpose is to supply public goods and services to citizens.

So if there is a problem with a government shut-down, the problem is the lost services to citizens and not the lost income of government workers…. a reality that prompts my second thought on this shut-down: If we Americans are now being denied a bevy of what we are always told are essential and splendid services by our national government, will our tax bills be reduced to reflect the fact that we are now not receiving those beneficial services?  Why should we be billed and obliged to pay for services not rendered?

If my maid-service company doesn’t show up to clean my home this week, I don’t pay that maid service.  If I walk into a supermarket to buy a few artichokes and discover that the supermarket has no artichokes for sale that day, I don’t pay the supermarket for the artichokes that I don’t get.  So shouldn’t we taxpayers be relieved of the obligation to pay for the national-government services that we are not now receiving?

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