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Explain Again Why We Have Non-Essential Federal Workers?

Architect of the Capitol

Brantly Millegan - published on 10/03/13 - updated on 06/08/17

Whether or not Republicans have a reasonable chance at successfully defunding Obamacare, our Aleteia Experts agree the government "shutdown" demonstrates that our federal government is too big.

As negotiations continue to stall, the US federal government shutdown continues. Republican lawmakers have said that they will only pass a budget that defunds the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Democrats in Congress and President Obama have said they will not pass a budget unless Obamacare is funded. We asked our Aleteia Experts what they thought of the situation.

Do the Republicans Really Have a Shot at Success?

"I fear that the Republicans will cave, but I hope that they don't," says Catholic author John Zmirak. "Obamacare is intrinsically evil, and designed to be irreversible. Grave measures are justified to stop it."

When asked whether Republicans have a reasonable chance at success, Zmirak pointed to President Obama's handling of Syria. "I think that Obama's collapse on Syria shows that he is a weak and unprincipled man who can be worn down when those opposing him are resolute, and he can find an escape hatch."

"I think that if the Republicans cave in, the party will lose more seats in the House and we will be faced with an unrestrained Democratic president keen on implementing European-style secular socialism. If they hold firm, they will win seats, and strengthen the chances of a principled Republican presidential candidate, such as Rand Paul."

What Can Be Learned from the 'Shutdown'

Stephen Krason, Professor of Political Science at Franciscan University, points out that "government shutdown" is a bit of misnomer. "We should understand that this is not actually a government shutdown, but only what might be called a retraction of non-essential government services. Essential activities of the federal government are continuing unabated; these are the things that we look to and need the federal government for."

Krason think this could be a good time for people to reflect on what services the federal government should be providing. "Perhaps during the period of this temporary retraction this matter of essential and non-essential federal government services and employees is brought before us clearly for reflection and can be the basis for consideration as time goes on about a policy of gradual disengagement of federal activities and programs that we can see are truly not needed."

Zmirak agrees. "I read that 800,000 non-essential government employees have been laid off. Which raises the question of why we have 800,000 non-essential employees. The government provides far too many services that would be better offered by the private sector, and far too many Americans are dependent on transfer payments–lulling them into serfs of a big, secular government. It would be healthy to learn to live without much of that. This could prove a salutary lesson."

The following Aleteia Experts contributed to this article:

Stephen Krason, political science professor at Franciscan University, is a lawyer and the founder and president of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists. He has written numerous books, some academic, some for a larger audience, the most recent being The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic.

John Zmirak is the author, most recently, of The Bad Catholics Guide to the Catechism. His columns are archived at The Bad Catholics Bingo Hall.

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