Crowdfunding the Government

After a bipartisan majority of Washington D.C. politicians seemed to reach the “kick the can” phase of their 2018 performance of Federal Government Shutdown Theater, President Trump abruptly signaled that he would veto the compromise to delay any partial shutdown of the federal government through February 8, 2019.

The sticking point is President Trump’s insistence that any spending deal the Congress passes to include funding authorization to build new physical infrastructure to improve border security in order to prevent unauthorized incursions along the nation’s southern border with Mexico. More simply, he wants Congress to provide money to “build the wall” he actively campaigned for while running for office in 2016. On the opposite side are politicians who made their opposition to President Trump the active campaigning point in the 2018 mid-term elections.

So the U.S. government is, once again, at risk of having about 15-20% of its operations shut down for up to a few weeks during the holiday season because a large number of Washington D.C. politicians, many motivated by their desire to raise money to fund their next election campaigns so they can stay in their seats of power, would rather engage in political posturing exercises. We know that’s the case because year after year, we keep having these new episodes of federal government shutdown theater where the main issue keeps changing, but the players orchestrating the performance stay the same.

There’s a news story that has started percolating in the background of all these theatrics, where Americans who support the President’s proposed wall are using crowdfunding to collect money to build a portion of it. CNN reports:

A triple amputee Air Force veteran and motivational speaker is asking the 63 million Americans who voted for President Donald Trump to chip in $80 apiece for the border wall....

“Even if we get half, that’s half the wall. We can do this,” Brian Kolfage writes on his verified GoFundMe, which had raised more $10 million from nearly 200,000 donors as of early Friday morning.

Kolfage had the idea about a year ago but decided to move forward Sunday because of “inaction from our politicians,” he told CNN via email. He is surprised by the amount of money he’s been able to raise, he wrote.

Kolfage’s crowdfunding campaign is seeking to raise $1 billion, where at $10.9 million, puts the campaign just over one percent of the way to its meeting its funding goal in its first five days.

Now, let’s take the wall out of the picture and consider the idea of using crowdfunding to provide the money for the various political initiatives that have been or will be the focus of past and future performances of federal government shutdown theater. Isn’t this a much smarter way to pay for these controversial things? Why, it could be the end of the nearly annual performances of federal government shutdown theater!

Craig Eyermann is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Managing Director of Political Calculations, and the creator of the Government Cost Calculator at MyGovCost.org.
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