Essentially Un-essential Government Agencies?


While surviving the anarchy of the government shutdown, I came across some figures regarding the “essentialness” of the employees of certain government agencies. For example, apparently only 6.6% of the employees of the Environmental Protection Agency remain on the job, resulting in all sorts of “ineffeciencies”.

Of the agency’s 16,205 employees, a mere 1,069 will work through the shutdown. That means that taxpayers employ 15,136 people at the EPA who are “non-essential.”

Because of the shutdown, the EPA will not be able to work on the rules requested by President Obama in his climate plan, but Dina Kruger, a consultant and former climate change director at the EPA, said the agency would be able to complete the rules on time. It might just have to “work a little harder” once the shutdown ends.

The shutdown will also delay the comment period for the EPA’s New Source Performance Standards – the proposal that would make it nearly impossible to open a new coal plant – which started on September 20, 2013.

Only 5% of the Department of Education remains staffed; and only 4% of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Chart!:

These numbers illustrate that the government “shutdown” results in quite a few non-essential employees. To be fair, many are defined as such based on emergency needs and the like, but the above breakdown provides us with an opportunity to re-examine our priorities and how we spend our tax dollars. As Nick Gillespie writes:

I’d think twice about simply moving to restore pre-shutdown funding to the government. It would be nice to dust off actual budget proposals and start talking about what the government should do and how much (or how much little) it should spend in pursuit of those goals.

What sort of teachable moment is it when freaking Republican “anarchists” (Harry Reid’s term) are tripping over themselves to restore full funding for the Depts. of Interior, Education, Commerce, and Labor? Or blithely re-upping the Transportation Security Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the FCC?

It’s teaching a lesson, that’s for sure, and it’s one about how different Republicans are from libertarians, especially when it comes to determining how we should be spending.

I disagree a bit with Gillespie’s last point: beltway Republicans are different than libertarians, to be sure, but they also differ from members of their own party from outside the beltway (some of those Tea Party anarchists!) as well as mainstream, fiscally conservative Americans of any party.

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