The Shutdown has began but based on media reports it’s more like a slimdown. Our troops will be paid. Our retirees will be paid. Social Security recipients will be paid. About 800,000 non-essential workers will be temporarily furloughed.
The major impact will be felt in the affluent capital region. Keep in mind that while much of the rest of the country has languished in the doldrums of the Obama economy, the capital region has grown fat from government largesse.
Like bees to honey, bureaucrats, lobbyists and contractors have flocked to the federal government’s honey hole. Ten of the fifteen most affluent counties in the United States are clustered around Washington.
So let’s take all of the sob stories emanating from the Washington media with a bit of skepticism. We’ll be hearing about people not being able to pay their mortgages or feed their children. If the shutdown/slimdown lasts for any appreciable length of time, the crescendo of pain will become louder.
But let’s look at some salient facts about government pay. As of February 2010, the average Federal worker earned $76,231. Federal salaries have been frozen since then, so the current average salary is in that range.
Republicans like to point out that federal compensation is actually higher if you include the generous federal retirement and health benefits program that includes paid vacations.
According to Townhall.com, the difference in total compensation between is $114,436 for federal workers to $87,804 for private sector workers. Once you understand the level of compensation for federal workers, you have very little sympathy for their supposed plight.
More importantly, the American people may get a partial answer on the question: where does all of the money go? And what are we paying for?
Understand that the first thing that the government will do is to put into place their Washington Monument strategy. Quite simply this involves closing the biggest, most noticeable government sites.
Sites like the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the U.S. Capital and the White House tours (oh, they already closed those blaming the sequester).
As you can see, some of the things that the taxpayers pay for are purely Washington-centric. Those of us that don’t live in or around the Washington area get absolutely zero benefit from these tax expenditures.
Let’s face it, in a nation of about 314 million about 16 million Americans visited the nation’s capital, that’s around 5% of the population. The other 95% of us don’t get any benefit from all of the money spent by the federal government in the Washington area.
Let’s start with the Smithsonian Institution. Here’s the message that we received when we tried to navigate to their web site. “Due to the federal government shutdown, all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are closed. For the status of Smithsonian Associates events, please check smithsonianassociates.org.”
The funding for the Smithsonian covers the Natural History Museum, the Air and Space Museum and the National Zoo, three huge attractions in the Washington area. Why do the taxpayers foot the bill for attractions that 99% of the American people will never go to? Isn’t it time to put the Smithsonian on a self-supporting basis?
Along with the closing of the National Zoo (don’t worry the animals will still get their three squares) the Panda Cam has been shut down. Just think of all the hours of family drama you’ll be missing out on as Mei Xiang cares for her cub.
We all know that all national parks are closed. But did you know that all of the web sites for national park sites are not operating? This is just another attempt to stick it to the American people.
Web sites can operate without human assistance but the park service is just trying to increase the pressure on the American people. To illustrate this, if you navigate to a national park site you’re taken to the fully-functioning, main site for the Department of the Interior.
At the Interior Department’s site you will get this message: Due to the lapse in appropriated funds, all public lands managed by the Interior Department (National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Land Management facilities, etc.) will be closed. For more information, FAQs, and updates, please visit www.doi.gov/shutdown.
In line with the Washington Monument strategy, the Federal government is spending money to station security guards where in the normal course of events there are no guards. A case in point is the World War II monument which is an open air monument on the National Mall.
Yesterday, security guards attempted to close off the monument from visitors. With the intervention of Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., a group of WWII vets were able to make their planned visit to the open-air monument. Palazzo, a former Marine, had earlier vowed not to let the National Park Police keep the group from their visit to the monument to they and their comrades from the ‘Greatest Generation’.
Using the excuse that they’re only trying to prevent vandalism, the National Park Police and the U.S. Capital Police have barricaded every national monument in the Washington area.
Of course, you could always visit Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home. He was a private-sector man all the way.