Time for shutdown reality check

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Mark Twain once commented, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” This quote should come to mind whenever we hear the apocalyptic forecasts associated with the government shutdown. The reality is that it not nearly as bad as Democrats and pundits are making it out to be. Our electricity and water are still running. Our streets and highways are still paved. Our neighborhoods and towns are still in tact.

By looking at the bigger picture, you notice that things are nowhere near as bad as we have been told. In fact, the partial shutdown highlights why we should be proud of being Americans. Consider the fact that everyday Americans took it upon themselves to clean up accumulated trash on the National Mall and in public parks all across the country. Our local and privately run parks as well as museums are doing fine. These parks and museums are open, regardless if Congress decides to do its job or not.

{mosads}This shows us that Americans have a culture of volunteerism to be proud of. At the same time it shows that local and privately run landmarks and museums are better equipped to preserve our beautiful country and rich history. Privately run companies have even gone the extra mile to maintain the roads and bathrooms in Yellowstone National Park. We can look at examples both past and present to see this is nothing new.

Take the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, which is the oldest historic preservation society in the nation. A nonprofit organization, it helped save Mount Vernon in 1853 by purchasing the land that was the Virginia estate of George Washington. The group, along with a variety of other nonprofit organizations, works to preserve Mount Vernon. Seeing that the federal government lacks the capacity, nonprofit organizations are critical to historic preservation. This is not a knock against park rangers but against the bureaucratic agencies that fail to realize local groups know best.

This even holds true in the case of airport security. Multiple headlines have heralded the dangers of an understaffed Transportation Security Administration. But does it make any sense? The TSA is perhaps one of the least effective federal agencies when you look at its record compared to cheaper and privatized alternatives. Time and time again, the TSA fails to accomplish its mission while its screening practices continue to be an affront to our civil liberties. If the TSA cannot even keep us safe when they are fully staffed, why should we fund it? Even deep blue San Francisco privatizes its airport security to its benefit. Congress should take note.

The same is true for the Food and Drug Administration. Underwriters Laboratories is a certification company based in Illinois that performs safety tests on a wide range of products. It operates in more than 40 countries and has been approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to conduct safety tests. The FDA has also approved it to conduct premarket reviews of cybersecurity concerns with medical devices. With firms like this, the need for federal control over product screening is waning more every day, making the claim that consumers are at mortal risk while the FDA is temporarily unfunded even more absurd.

Life goes on much as it did before the shutdown. Commentators often leave out the fact that most of the federal government is still funded for fear of reminding Americans that only a small portion is indeed closed. By taking a holistic view of what is happening around the nation, our elected officials have an opportunity to get serious about the size and scope of the federal government. In almost every aspect of our everyday lives, the federal government would do well to scale back its far reaching programs and return control to states, local officials, and ultimately to individuals.

There are far too many issues in our country for federal bureaucrats to competently handle. The shutdown has spotlighted how Americans are more than capable of fixing the problems themselves. Our centralized approach only goes so far, so let us leave it to the locals who know best.

Adam Brandon is the president of FreedomWorks.

Tags Americans Business Congress Government Security Shutdown Washington

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