Opinion: Government should govern

October 2, 2013


It is Tuesday morning as I am writing this column, and the federal government has been shut down for approximately eight hours. It is hard for me to fathom the irresponsibility of Congress in allowing this to happen. Personally, I am sick to death of hearing each political party blame the other for what has happened. As for those in Congress who are glorying in the shutdown, all I can think is that they don’t belong in government.

I find it even more ironic that while hundreds of thousands of federal workers will go without pay because of the shutdown — and may never receive this lost pay in the future — members of Congress will continue to be paid. A few congressmen and women have said that they would send back their pay during the shutdown, but, so far as I am concerned, every single member of Congress ought to lose all of their pay and perquisites during the period of the shutdown. How dare they remain exempt from the pain that they are causing others for very little good.

I heard on the radio yesterday that roughly 27,000 federal workers in the Kansas City area will be sent on furlough during the shutdown. Many of these people, both in Kansas City and throughout the nation, are hardworking folks who live paycheck to paycheck. The vast majority of federal workers do not earn the large salaries that are earned by our leaders in Washington. Further, every dollar that federal workers lose in pay means that others who sell goods and services to those workers will also lose income. In many instances, the overall losses to the economy will be far greater than the actual amount of federal salary income that is lost.

Perhaps even worse is the fact that our economy is only now slowly recovering from the “Great Recession” that began in 2008. Scores of economists have, over the past few weeks, warned that a federal government shutdown could seriously endanger a continued recovery. The longer the shutdown lasts, the greater the danger that our country will again fall into recession.

I recognize that I am getting a bit older and, undoubtedly, a bit old-fashioned in my thinking. But I have always understood that the purpose in being elected to government is to govern. To my mind, one cannot govern when one shuts down the government. At this point, I think that the members of Congress need to think about why they are in Washington in the first place and then figure out a way to talk to each other and find some common ground so that they can do what they were elected to do. Otherwise, they ought to resign and let the people elect some folks who will.

— Mike Hoeflich, a distinguished professor in the Kansas University School of Law, writes a regular column for the Journal-World.


Mike Ford 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I enrolled in healthcare oldan so you need to go back to the Kansas bubble and find likeminded end times people to lament with.


OlDan 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Obamacare is not in the best interest of this nation. It's not unreasonable to delay the individual mandate for a year. It's become obvious after 3 years that Obamacare is not ready for a roll out. Shut it down and leave it down until the Democrats and Obama act more responsibly.


Mike Ford 6 months, 2 weeks ago

yeah, this country needs to be ran like it's 1781 and the Articles of Confederation again. No equal treatment for Native, Latino, or African Americans, no voting for women, each state needs to arm its mentally imbalanced militias and create it's own currency from yard sales. No one state accepts anything from any other state. What a bunch of dystopian libertarian malarkey. The Articles of Confederation worked so well that the US Constitution was introduced six years later. Then again do any of these obstructionists know anything about history anyway.


yourworstnightmare 6 months, 2 weeks ago

It is a fact that the GOP attached an unrelated bill, defunding the ACA, to this budget resolution.

In doing so, they hijacked the budget bill and are using it in an extortion tactic to get what they want, defunding the ACA.

This is a shameful perversion of the legislative process on the part of the GOP, this act of legislative extortion.

The blame for this shut down falls squarely at the feet of the GOP. There is no false equivalency blame attached to the democrats in this case.

The GOP are extortionists, trying to force the defunding of a law passed by Congress, validated by the Supreme Court, and affirmed by a presidential election.


gr 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Neil, why should a company be going even deeper into debt? Ever hear of stopping the bleeding?

Maybe find a company to work for who is fiscally responsible? One who at least attempts to spend less than they make or at the very least attempt to create a budget that balances, that doesn't intentionally spend more than their budget?


oldbaldguy 6 months, 2 weeks ago

our representatives are not acting responsibly regardless of party. mike hoeflich is correct.


neilhull 6 months, 2 weeks ago

If you own a company that was under fiscal restraints do the inefficiency of your bank to lend you money would you simply fire all of your nonessential employees? Or would you send them home unpaid due to the requirement that your company will fail to meet its mission if you do not have those skilled laborers and people once the bank get your fiscal issues resolved?

The issue is not about excessive employees who did not contribute to the bottom line and therefore should all be fired from the government.

You wondered what non-essential employees felt like, and I gave you my opinion.


gr 6 months, 2 weeks ago

"are hardworking folks who live paycheck to paycheck. "

Most people do live paycheck to paycheck..... Excepting those who die.

But maybe he means people who spend more than they make. Perhaps they should work for the government?


kansas_cynic 6 months, 2 weeks ago

There will be a certain amount of people who will blame everything on Obama, no matter what the true cause is.


neilhull 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Non-essential simply means that your position is not essential to prevent harm to life, property, or national security issues in your absence during a conflict. It in no way means your position is is not needed. Positions are broken into 2 categories for federal employees. emergency essential and non-essential.

Emergency essential is in direct support of the war fighter, national security, or other deemed essential public services, (EMTs, Firefighters, Police, ect..) and if all hell breaks loose in your geographical area you are required to stay and support the mission. Mission first.

Think of the non-essential positions as all of those that support the back end of the business. Budget, Information Technology, Planning, Training, HR, ect.

I am a non-essential employee. I perform oversight in acquisition and information assurance integration across the Department of Defense.

I had worked in the civilian sector all my life, and I took a $40,000.00 pay cut as a Chief of Information Officer with a large company in Kansas City to take the position I have now. I am a disabled veteran and wanted to take the opportunity to serve my country in a positive way again. Most of the people I work with are prior military, disabled veterans, and patriots who care about this great country of ours. We could all make more more in the private sector, but essentially choose to sacrifice that and take the opportunity to serve again.

I love my country and feel patriotic everyday when I wake up and go to work. I don't do it for the money, or the pension. I have worked hard in the four years I have been working for the federal govt. and have saved the tax payer over $6,000,000.00 by streamlining IT services, improving IT integration, and creating baseline services and hardware implementations based on my civilian world experience in IT management.

There are individuals in every organization, civilian side or govt. side that do bad things as you mention. We all know the "one person" who gets away with more then others. Its a snapshot of society. Always a few bad apples in the bushel. It is a shame when things like you mention happen and it also really makes me upset when people do such things.

I am essential to the organization, the future leaders of the armed services, and as a steward of the tax payers money.

One thing that is essential to me is to be able to provide for my family. That is becoming more and more difficult due to the furloughs we had this summer, and now the inability of the DC groups to pass a budget, and make the hard decisions that could make this country a even better place.

There should be no lifetime politicians. Four to six years and done. Go there and make the tough decisions without the worry of being re-elected. It appears they are more focused on the next lobbyist donation for re-election pots than the issues that this country faces.

Neil Hull Disabled Veteran USMC Semper Fi


Keith 6 months, 2 weeks ago

All of this, done in an effort to keep people from buying health insurance.


FarleyM 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I wonder what it's like to have your employer deem you not essential to the operation? 800,000 not essential people. Do you ever have any incentive to work hard knowing you're not essential? Do the people that govern the country have any incentive to govern? Are they essential?

Does John Beale have any incentive to do his job? Did Beales's boss of multiple years have any incentive knowing where he was, or, apparently, incentive to care?....government they have any incentive to do anything?

"A former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adviser pleaded guilty on Friday to cheating the government out of $886,186 over 13 years of telling lies, including claims he had malaria and that he was working on a CIA project, officials said."

Mr. Hoeflich. You are talking about government people. Do Government people have an incentive to do anything except appear to look important?

In my opinion. No.


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