John Stossel

What? The federal government spends almost 4 trillion dollars! The government cupboard overflows! We fund entire cabinet departments that are worse than useless. The Labor Department interferes with actual labor. Commerce would flow more smoothly without Commerce Department bureaucrats channeling money to their cronies.

The government hasn't cut spending -- it never does. After the last shutdowns, politicians even voted to award retroactive pay to government workers who didn't work. Bet they do it again this time. The federal government remains the biggest employer in the country. President Obama says so with pride.

Compare this to what happens in the private sector in tough times: AT&T cut 40,000 workers. Sears cut 50,000. IBM: 60,000. They weren't easy decisions, but they enabled the companies to stay profitable. With fewer workers, leaner companies found more efficient ways to get things done.

And the rest of us barely noticed. We expect change and adaptation in free-market institutions. But it doesn't happen in government. Government just grows.

Maybe the ugliest part of this story is that the city that whines most about suffering through the shutdown, Washington, D.C., is now the richest geographic area in America. Washington got richer while the rest of America didn't. Over the past 12 years, median income in the U.S. dropped about 6.5 percent -- but not in D.C.! There, it rose 23 percent. Four of the five richest counties now surround Washington, D.C.

No wonder politicians and bureaucrats are convinced big government is essential to keep the economy going -- it is essential to keep them going.

John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at > To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at ©Creators Syndicate