Government Shutdown 2013: Website Removals and Barry-Cades


Former Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman once said, "If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand," and it's easy to see why if you're following the government shutdown.

Most people would assume if we are going into a government shutdown because of public sector spending that the shutdown would involve cost-cutting measures across the board. Well, that's where you would be wrong. The federal government once again did the impossible: they made shutting down to save money more expensive. How'd they accomplish such a feat? By shutting down websites when it could be cheaper to leave them up and unupdated, and by erecting "Barry-cades" around open-air parks formerly opened to the public. These measures show that Washington still just can't ween itself from its spending addiction when it comes to scoring political points.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is at the heart of both of these matters. When it comes to the websites shutting down, the OMB made sure that people knew cost-cutting would not factor in their decisions when they released this memo. 

This has been coupled with the very public barricading of the WWII Memorial this week. Now why would an open-air memorial need to be barricaded in such a manner? Especially when, according to Rep. Steven Palazzo's (R-Miss.) office, the Department of the Interior knew that the Honor Flight veterans would be there? Today, seven "essential" government employees were found to be putting up more "Barry-cades" to keep another round of veterans out.

These National Park Service (NPS) employees were "excepted from furlough" according to the Washington Examiner. Clearly it likely cost more to bring seven people back onto staff in order to create a barricade than it would be to have left the open-air memorial unaffected by the shutdown, as the government did in 1995 with the Lincoln Memorial. Carol Johnson with the Park Service stated that the OMB, an executive department ordered the "Barry-cades" put up. The WWII Memorial also seemed to get special attention, seeing as the WWI Memorial was defended by this sole piece of guardrail.

According to Ben Howe, Contributing Editor at RedState, the National Mall had no barricades whatsoever. Former Speaker of the House and Newt Gingrich noted on Twitter that the Mount Vernon turnaround for tour buses was closed by park police as well, where zero maintenance is typically required. Another cost to the taxpayer in the shutdown.

Cost seems to be of no concern when the Obama Administration can use a crisis to its advantage. As Rahm Emanuel used to say, never let a good crisis go to waste. What the president is doing is exaggerating the costs of the shutdown in order to score political points. This tactic is typically referred to as the Washington Monument Syndrome or the Mount Rushmore ploy and involves shutting down popular visiting attractions like parks or popular services like libraries in order to curry public sentiment toward your side. 

These aspects of the shutdown aren't about cost-cutting, they're about scoring political points. It is no secret the media is attempting to lay blame on the House-controlled GOP in the shutdown. In fact, CBS, ABC, and NBC have specifically laid blame on just Republicans 21 times and just Democrats 0 times. 

The shutting down of websites and open-air memorials are being used for political gain. It surely isn't about cutting costs. These fabricated signs of the shutdown are to inspire an emotional response from the people. We can only hope that these wrongs are righted sooner rather than later.