What if the federal government of the united States shut down and came to an end? I'm not advocating or talking about a violent overthrow by any entity foreign or domestic. This shouldn't even be interpreted as a protest, just a hypothetical. What if the leaders just said, "We're tired of everyone begging goodies from us on one hand and their unwillingness to pay with the other. We've come to the 'Fiscal Cliff' and have reached no final, lasting resolution. Forget it, we're packing up, going home and getting jobs. This is isn't a temporary shut down while we point fingers across the isle like you've seen before. Mom and Dad aren't fighting; we're shrugging and splitting up."
Would their be any jobs? Would we be safe? Could we trust our doctors, our food supply, our clean air and water, our banks and our employers? What about the states; are they up to the challenge of managing our safety and security?
First, would their be any jobs? Of course everyone on the federal payroll would be looking for work, and every contractor would be scrambling to find profitable ventures elsewhere. Many people would be laid off immediately. Those on Social Security and other federal assistance would loose their income. For a period, mass hysteria would sweep the countryside.
What about safety? The troops we have strewn about the world would be stranded. The FBI, the CIA, the NSA and the DHS would stop keeping tabs on terrorists, drug traffickers and software pirates. The FDA would not longer be regulating food, drug and medical device safety. The Federal Reserve would no longer maintain monopoly power over the money supply, though its notes would remain in circulation. Banks would be left without federal regulation, and deposits would no longer be insured against loss. Minimum wage rates would revert to that of the states, and anti-discrimination policies would be left to employers.
So an immediate dissolution of the federal government would be potentially disastrous, but what if it slowly faded away, dismantling one department at a time?
Clearly, everyone who doesn't get paid, at least indirectly, by the federal government would still have their income plus the large chunk that the feds normally consume. Employers, flush with considerably more cash than they are accustomed to would be able to invest in expanding their businesses and in most cases their workforce. It is not as if the government creates any wealth or multiplies what if confiscates before paying its employees. So there should be ample, productive work for former federal employees to do. I contend that there would be considerably more jobs if the federal government were to shut down.
Is there any good reason to suspect that the states would not be capable of defending themselves given sufficient time and the money normally sent by their citizens to the federal government for defense? Are the nations of Europe and Central and South America so vulnerable that they should consider forming federations? Would we be any safer if we teamed up with Canada and Mexico? Perhaps the foreign policy of the 1790's is in need of revision.
What about safety from swindlers, quack doctors and seedy food processors? What would we do without the FDA, EPA, AMA, and USDA? Some states might seek to replace them on a smaller scale while others might ignore the issue altogether. Consider first that in an era of fast and ubiquitous information it is a worse business practice than ever to cheat, lie to, sicken or kill your customers. Then ask yourself if we really need a cadre of monolithic, unaccountable, corruptible bureaucracies to manage our daily safety and if that system would be inherently better than a sector of competing consumer advocacy groups?
It seems that we have entered a perpetual state of, "Oh my God, what is the federal government going to do about the crisis situation of today (which they usually created in the first place)?" At times like this, I think it is powerfully enlightening to put everything in the perspective of, "Well, what if they stopped doing anything at all?"
I don't expect to have thoroughly convinced anyone that we should carefully dismantle the federal system. I don't even know where or how to begin doing so. But please consider this, shouldn't the burden of proof always fall on those proposing the use of force whether it be for foreign invasion, taxation or regulation? Where is the compelling evidence that we cannot be free?