What Does a Government Shutdown Really Cost?

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“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

John [8:31]-32



I recently went through a security checkpoint at an airport in Dallas Texas, where the TSA agents were working processing us through the various security procedures to allow us to fly. Each TSA agent I encountered, I thanked them for working without pay. They all appreciated the simple gesture.

It made me wonder what is the government shutdown really costing us? The shutdown has been caused by a president who wants to build a very large wall and the ruling Democrats are opposed to putting in the budget, close to six billion dollars to build this wall.

Eight hundred thousand government employees have been denied pay and over four million government contractors are out of work. The average government employee, with benefits makes one hundred and nineteen thousand dollars. If that is the case; then not paying the employees would pay for the wall in five weeks.

The math here is simple, but the issues are far more complicated. The real reason for the shutdown isn’t about saving money, but about a power struggle that is unaware of the impact on the humans involved.

The president has made a campaign promise to build a wall to prevent illegal aliens, drugs and criminals from entering our country. His constituency is pressing him very hard to fulfill his campaign commitment. He has been firm and unbending in his position.

The democrats know this is a big political issue and have been equally unbending in allowing the wall to be built. Firm that the president won’t get his way and be able to declare victory.

The issue has become like watching two petulant children fighting in a school playground over a slight. As time wears on the issue becomes less what the fight is about and more about getting their way. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people do not have a paycheck to pay their bills. Lines are growing long at airport checkpoints, as more TSA agents call in sick to do a job without pay. Garbage is piling up in our national parks. Lost in all this squabbling are the real facts.

First, very little of the drugs come from illegals crossing outside the official “Points of Entry” into the United States. The vast majority comes through the “Points of Entry.” The logistics of dispersing tons of drugs among those entering the US through the desert are overwhelming for the drug dealers. As such, drugs come hidden in large  containers in our ports. They come through the official land POE’s hidden in forty foot trailers. They come through our airports hidden in cargo bays.

Building the wall will not prevent this, better technology at our POE’s will. But this wall is a campaign promise made to appease those who rightly want the flow of heroin and cocaine to end, but are misguided by how the scourge called drugs really flow into our country.

Nor are the Democrats being truthful with Americans, they are not proposing an alternative, they fight so the president will be embarrassed. Leaving hundreds of thousands without paychecks.

Which raises another question, why do government workers on average make one hundred and nineteen thousand dollars a year, or almost 78% higher than the average American and double that of the people who teach our children. Consider that the average American who works in retail makes a third of this amount or the average family of four brings in just under seventy thousand a year. Sure, some of the cost is from our government employees cost of living in the greater Washington D.C. area, but not this much!

The issue here isn’t that government employees shouldn’t be paid properly for a day’s work, but the disparity between the voters and government pay is out of sync.

Our legislative leaders and our president and his staff still get paid during the shutdown. While trash builds up in our national parks and travelers wait in long lines at airports. The same people who created the shutdown are being paid, while not doing their job. Engaged in a stare down not designed to work on facts, but one of personal power control.

Missing is a real discussion and a path forward to resolution. How do we slow the flow of drugs into our country that ends lives and disrupts families? How do we stop criminals from other lands without impeding the inclusion of immigrants who can help our country continue to be the worlds great melting pot? These are the real issues with the wall, ones that all Americans would like resolved.

Trust in our government since 1960 has dropped from a near 80% to 18%. While the Democrats will blame the Republicans, the same is true with Republicans. Lost in this debate is what Americans desire, the truth.

Some of us identify with traditional views of smaller government and less taxes. While others of us want the protection of the poor and the average working person. We all want to end the epidemic of drugs. We all want those who desire to be American’s not to be criminals from far-away places. These are honest debates and productive when done with searching for the truth. This debate seems lost amongst the acrimony that exists today.

The shutdown isn’t about the issues, but about power. Lost in this power struggle are the TSA workers who work without pay. Lost is the average American who makes significantly less than the government employee. Lost are the individuals who will become snared in the desperate cycle of drug addiction. Lost are the individuals who desire to come to our great country, to enjoy freedom and be productive citizens.

Lost, while our politicians grandstand for personal glory. Lost by people whose behavior doesn’t represent the values of most American’s.

Jesus would have one simple request; search for the truth through him and we will all be set free.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Photo by Ramon Kagie

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