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.


FarleyM 2 years, 2 months 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 people...do 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.

Keith 2 years, 2 months ago

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

gr 2 years, 2 months ago

More accurately it would be, All of this, done in an effort to keep people from being FORCED into buying health insurance.

asixbury 2 years, 2 months ago

How is it any different than car insurance? If you own a car, you are required to have insurance and will be fined if you don't. I see no difference in the two.

Liberty275 2 years, 2 months ago

"If you own a car, you are required to have insurance"


Keith 2 years, 2 months ago

Correction, if you own a car, and are a law abiding citizen, you have to have insurance.

Liberty275 2 years, 1 month ago


You only need to establish and maintain financial responsibility.

asixbury 2 years, 1 month ago

In the state of Kansas, if you own a car that you are driving, than you ARE required to have at least liability insurance on it. If you don't and are found out, you get fined.

gr 2 years, 2 months ago

I do have the choice of driving a car or not. I do have a choice of getting collision insurance or not. But this is being FORCED with no choice.

Tell me, since I have car insurance, why does my car insurance not pay for the oil changes? Why does my car insurance not pay for new tires? Why does my car insurance not pay for engine overhaul if I put sugar in the gas tank?

voevoda 2 years, 2 months ago

Maintenance of your car is not like maintenance of your body, gr.

You can investigate the reliability of automobiles and their upkeep costs before making a choice about which one to buy. But you're stuck with the body you're born with.

If your car turns out to be a lemon and you need to pay out a huge amount of money to make it function properly, you have the right to make the manufacturer repair or replace it free of charge. The Creator of your body doesn't let you do this.

If your car becomes too old and expensive to repair, you can trade it in and replace it with a brand new one. Once you've got 100,000 miles and 10 years on your body, do you think that you can trade it in?

If your car suffers more damage than its monetary worth, then the insurance company declares it totaled, and refuses to pay to make it functional again, even though it can be fixed. Would you like health insurance that treats your body that way?

gr 2 years, 2 months ago

I think you are missing my point. Maintenance of a car IS much like maintenance of a body. You take care of it and it'll last. You make poor choices and it doesn't. Many people cannot afford a nice car, but they can take care of the one they have to make it last the longest. If they don't change the oil because they think they are entitled to an entitlement, it won't last very long. Same with your body. You eat bad things, you won't last as long. Very few people have bodies that are "bad". Very many people make poor choices.

What I'm complaining about is things such as diabetes tests. Except for the genetic disorder, people get diabetes from poor eating choices. You don't need everyone else to pay for that. If you think you need a test, you pay for it. Otherwise, don't eat in such a way that you will get diabetes. Then there's diabetes medicine ole' jafs thinks people are entitled to. Why should we pay for your poor choices?

And I'm not talking about diabetes, but all kinds of things like that. Maintenance costs and costs associated with choices. Diabetes, high blood pressure, pregnancy, birth control, etc., etc.

None of these things have to do with getting a lemon. It has to do with choice. Free choice.

voevoda 2 years, 2 months ago

Lucky you, gr, that you were born with a body that didn't have genetic flaws. Lucky you, gr, that you did not contract a serious disease with lasting effects. Lucky you, that you don't have a profession that is hard on the body, such as mining. Lucky you, gr, that you can't get pregnant and have all the costs associated with child-bearing and maintaining a female body.

Arrogant of you to assume that poor health is the fault of the person, and uncompassionate of you to blame the sick. What would Jesus do, gr? Withhold His healing from most people because it's their own fault they are sick?

deec 2 years, 2 months ago

Well shame on me for being born to parents with diabetes, hypertension, bum gall bladders, predilection to lady cancers and/or bad eyesight on both sides of the family. 3/4 of my grandparents had diabetes; the other died too early to get it. Pretty much all my biological aunts and uncles also had/have diabetes. I guess I'm just stuck with a lemon body, even if I choose to eat right, etc. Good thing I don't have insurance to run up bills for all the negative nellies on this forum, though.

gr 2 years, 1 month ago

It's so sad you guys feel that you've been given a bad body. You sound as hopeless as those who say, I was born in debt, I'll die in debt. I'm sure you inherited your diabetes from your family. Just not genetically. It's been called hoof-to-mouth disease. Just because your family has a long history of poor choices, doesn't mean you have to continue them. You're same as saying that car insurance should pay for everyone's gas whether they choose to drive a gas hog or not.

Do you know why it's called acquired diabetes? Because it is acquired! Acquired through poor eating and living habits. And if someone is going to bring Jesus into it, didn't He say go and sin no more after relieving people's suffering? He didn't effectively give them a pack of cigarettes and tell them that now they've been healed, to go and continue enjoying them.

But maybe you're asking about what do we do with those who refuse to change. Well, Jesus never coerced anyone. It was their free choice and not someone else making it for them. I may be wrong, but won't smokers pay more for their health insurance? Why? Answer that and you've answered why people who intentionally keep making poor choices shouldn't be subsidized by healthy people. You need to quit blaming your genetics, your body, or someone else, and stop looking for a magic pill or potion. It's your own choices that got you where you are. But you can also choose to better your health, too. Have you watched Curing Diabetes in 30 days or one of many others? Watch that and then maybe you can come back and discuss it. Start changing your life today, lest a worse thing come to you.

deec 2 years, 1 month ago

Actually, the only things on the list I made that I've had is a bad gall bladder and poor eyesight. We have a propensity for our bile ducts to not grow and mature. I guess diet caused that flaw. Poor diet and lack of exercise must have also caused me to need glasses for astigmatism and nearsightedness...at age 6.

I'd venture to guess my diet is at least as healthy as yours since I don't eat meat and use olive oil rather than butter mostly. I rarely drink and I have a job that provides exercise. I also garden and hike when I can.

gr 2 years, 1 month ago

So the point being, why do you think I should pay for your eyeglasses? Or oil changes or gasoline? I know dental is optional. How about optometry, are eyeglasses even relevant to the discussion?

asixbury 2 years, 1 month ago

You're not paying anyone's insurance with Obamacare. It spreads out the risk of insuring to more people, which eventually should make everyone's rates decrease.

asixbury 2 years, 1 month ago

Obamacare is not entitlement. You aren't paying for anyone else's insurance any more than you already are now. And in the state of kansas, you are required to have at least liability coverage insurance on your car.

chootspa 2 years, 2 months ago

Nobody's forced to buy health insurance. You make the decision as to whether you think the fine or the insurance is the better value. If you're immortal and know with certainty that you'll never get sick or be in an accident, save money and pay the fine.

gr 2 years, 2 months ago

"Love me or I'll kill you"? Think you have a free choice? If I choose not to buy car insurance, I won't be able to drive a car. But no one is going to fine me.

chootspa 2 years, 2 months ago

Nobody is going to kill you. Where did you get that? You make the financial decision whether you'd rather pay a tax penalty or buy insurance. In fact, the tax penalty is less than the price of insurance. If you decide to mooch off of the system by not buying insurance and gambling that you just won't get sick, they'll still treat you in the ER.

neilhull 2 years, 2 months 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

FarleyM 2 years, 2 months ago

You make a compelling case. But, I think you are referring to an America before Obama's "Transformation". After all, he said he was going to do it.

Also, non essential employees are fired in the real world.

boltzmann 2 years, 2 months ago

"Also, non essential employees are fired in the real world."

I don't think you really understand what non-essential means in this context. If a company had to shut down for a short period of time for some reason (fire, natural disaster, etc.), many of the company employees would stay home except for people who would be deemed "essential" - for example, security guards to make sure that the company isn't robbed in the interim.

An example in the government are people who work for the national labs. Yes, for the researchers if they have to stay at home in the short run nothing much would happen, but in the long run the research that we depend upon to keep our technological edge would not be done and we would be worse off. They would be deemed "nonessential", but they are essential to maintaining our edge. However, in the short run the people that guard the nuclear technology at those national labs have to stay on the job for obvious reasons - that is the meaning of essential versus non-essential.

oldbaldguy 2 years, 2 months ago

you are drinking the kool aid too much.

boltzmann 2 years, 2 months ago

What was the error in what I said? Be specific and not just give random insults that show that you don't really have a clue. In what way have I drunk "koolaid". You seem incapable of making a coherent counter argument. Pathetic.

boltzmann 2 years, 2 months ago

Ok. Just saw the indention of the text and made an incorrect assumption. To quote the Gilda Radner character. "Never mind"

gr 2 years, 2 months 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?

neilhull 2 years, 2 months 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.

oldbaldguy 2 years, 2 months ago

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

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 2 months ago

Bull. There is no false equivalency of blame here. The blame falls squarely with the GOP, who attached an unrelated item to defund the ACA to this budget resolution in an attempt of extortion.

tomatogrower 2 years, 1 month ago

So, you think the Democrats should have rolled over and given in to the blackmail, and told all those people trying to buy insurance the last few days - too bad, so sad, no health care for you.

gr 2 years, 2 months 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?

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 2 months 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.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 2 months ago

We know. You're a libertarian. We're impressed.

Mike Ford 2 years, 2 months 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.

OlDan 2 years, 2 months 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.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 2 months ago

A majority of Congress, the Supreme Court, and a majority of the American people in a presidential election disagree with you.

hiphopsux 2 years, 1 month ago

Oldan, you want to talk about being responsible? How about all of these "fiscally responsible" conservatives that are going to ruin our country's credit rating with this shutdown? It's the GOP who is being irresponsible with their tactics and going against everything that they constantly preach. It is a law now, get over it and go do your jobs or resign Congress.

Mike Ford 2 years, 2 months 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.

Armstrong 2 years, 1 month ago

The site has been down since 10/1 how exactly did you enroll ?

tomatogrower 2 years, 1 month ago

You can enroll using the paper form and mailing it in. None of the insurance starts until January, so everyone has plenty of time to enroll. You know nothing about Obamacares, do you?

chootspa 2 years, 1 month ago

"In a hurry? You might be able to apply faster at our Marketplace call center. Call 1-800-318-2596 to talk with one of our trained representatives about applying over the phone."

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