My current understanding of the current US government shutdown is that it’s the result of a stand-off between Donald Trump and the newly-Democrat-controlled US Congress. Trump wants $6 billion for his wall, and the Congress won’t let him have it. The current shutdown began on 22 December 2018, and is now the longest in US history.
But yesterday I read something in the Daily Caller that put a completely different perspective on it all:
I’M A SENIOR TRUMP OFFICIAL, AND I HOPE A LONG SHUTDOWN SMOKES OUT THE RESISTANCE
As one of the senior officials working without a paycheck, a few words of advice for the president’s next move at shuttered government agencies: lock the doors, sell the furniture, and cut them down.
Federal employees are starting to feel the strain of the shutdown. I am one of them. But for the sake of our nation, I hope it lasts a very long time, till the government is changed and can never return to its previous form.
The lapse in appropriations is more than a battle over a wall. It is an opportunity to strip wasteful government agencies for good.
On an average day, roughly 15 percent of the employees around me are exceptional patriots serving their country. I wish I could give competitive salaries to them and no one else. But 80 percent feel no pressure to produce results. If they don’t feel like doing what they are told, they don’t.
Why would they? We can’t fire them. They avoid attention, plan their weekend, schedule vacation, their second job, their next position — some do this in the same position for more than a decade.
They do nothing that warrants punishment and nothing of external value. That is their workday: errands for the sake of errands — administering, refining, following and collaborating on process….
The anonymous author of this piece goes on to say that with the 80% non-functional employees (some of them saboteurs) having been sent home, the US government functions a lot better.
Due to the lack of funding, many federal agencies are now operating more effectively from the top down on a fraction of their workforce, with only select essential personnel serving national security tasks. One might think this is how government should function, but bureaucracies operate from the bottom up…
The author offers advice:
…President Trump can end this abuse. Senior officials can reprioritize during an extended shutdown, focus on valuable results and weed out the saboteurs. We do not want most employees to return, because we are working better without them.
After reading this, I wondered if the current longest ever shutdown might actually be being used to reprioritize in the manner suggested. Such a process might be carried out by senior officials over a month or two.
And then, when the useless 80% of the employees return, they’ll maybe find that everything has changed. They can’t be fired, but they at least be given “jobs” where they can do no harm, perhaps in separate offices in Montana. They come back to work to find that they’d been re-assigned to a new “Department of Administrative Affairs” where they’d all have new job titles, and new desks, but there would be very little (in fact, nothing) that they would have to do. The real work of government would then continue to be done by the remaining 15 – 20% of effective, efficient employees.
The redundant 80% would keep their “jobs”, but would be allowed to retire or die or move on to jobs outside government. After a decade or two, they would nearly all have gone. And the US government would have been slimmed down to 20% of its former size.
I have no idea whether anything like this is actually happening. But it’s the sort of thing that someone like Trump would be perfectly capable of doing. And Donald Trump Junior has drawn attention to the piece, so Trump knows about it.
I’m intrigued to find out whether anything like this is actually happening. If things just go back to the way they were after the shutdown ends, then obviously it won’t have. But maybe, just maybe, a lot is happening behind the scenes.