canyon closedThe panda cam at the Washington, D.C. zoo is down. The IRS is still taking our money, but not refunding anything. Barricades are up around open air monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial and the WWII Memorial. Only 15 people, instead of the usual 90, are looking after the First Family. There are a number of government employees, such as the National Weather Forecasters, who aren’t getting paid. (By the way, the weather forecaster is South Dakota went to work anyway, because of a massive snowstorm. They are stand-up folks.) During this government “shut-down” only 17 percent of the federal government is really shut down. Most of us are going about our daily lives feeling very little effect (except perhaps a news-induced headache.)

Ira Stoll, at Reason, says this should give us pause: do we really need as much government as we have?

[T]he shut-down elements that are attracting much of the news attention turn out to be fairly easily replaceable.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics failed to issue its employment report for the month of September. But NPR managed to come up with five alternative measures, including the ADP payroll report, state data on unemployment claims, the PNC Financial Services Group’s Autumn Outlook Survey, and a report by an outplacement company about planned layoffs.

The New York Times had an article about how tourists in Boston were upset that Faneuil Hall, which is run by the National Park Service, was closed. The Times did not mention that a short walk away, other sites on the Freedom Trail of historic Revolution-era Boston, like the Old State House (run by the private Bostonian Society) and the Old South Meeting House (run by the private Old South Association) remained open. No wonder the president of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist tweeted, “It may be time to discuss how many federal gov parks could be handed over to states that are more competent to run them. Or privatized.”

Do we need federal government? Of course. But, do we need as much federal government as we have? It sure doesn’t seem so. Most of us are going about our lives with little or no disruption. It’s clear that our government spending is out of control, and the shut-down is a good time to assess what we need the government to spend our money on and what is a waste. I like pandas as much as the next person, but I can get my panda fix from someplace other than the federal government.