Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg

Long lines at airport security have been reported as unpaid Transportation Security Administration workers struggle with their finances.

Just when you are beginning to think Donald Trump’s administration simply can’t get any more ridiculous, here we are: The White House itself is telling reporters the shutdown might cut a half of a percentage point off first-quarter growth (in other words, 20% less as 2.5% dips to 2%), the Coast Guard is telling its newly unpaid staff to have garage sales to pay their bills, and companies from BlackRock

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  to FedEx

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 are missing or lowering forecasts for earnings and revenue.

This president doesn’t know enough about the government to shrink it.

And into the middle of it rolls an unnamed administration official, writing an almost unimaginably dense essay on the right-wing Web site The Daily Caller, defending the whole 26-day old debacle caused by Trump’s desire to build that border wall Mexico declined to pay for as a carefully thought-out plan to shrink the government by ridding it of lazy, overpaid malcontents who spend workdays planning vacations and sabotaging the brave president.

Also read: Ann Coulter says Trump is ‘dead in the water if he doesn’t build that wall’

“Federal employees are starting to feel the strain of the shutdown,” the self-described senior official writes. “But for the sake of our nation, I hope it lasts a very long time, till the government is changed and can never return to its previous form. The lapse in appropriations is more than a battle over a wall. It is an opportunity to strip wasteful government agencies for good.”

When you’re as lazy as the president is, your team doesn’t get to talk about anyone else’s work ethic.

Hee hee hee. Can we talk?

First off, let’s talk about lectures about hard work from legatees of a president well-known for rolling into the office late because he’s watching TV at home a few hundred rigorous steps away. And for not reading his daily intelligence briefing, or much of anything else. Jokes about his getting his intelligence from Russia’s daily briefing aside, his two years in office have shown him plainly to be the same trust-fund brat who was a millionaire from gifts by the time he was eight and got an allowance from Dad until he was in his 40s.

When you’re as lazy as the president is, your team doesn’t get to talk about anyone else’s work ethic.

Next, let’s talk about the aide’s stupendous ignorance of the federal budget — which, naturally, matches that of the boss.

The federal deficit this year is projected to be $1 trillion, according to the White House. The total cost of domestic discretionary programs (meaning, excluding defense and homeland security) is about half of that at $566 billion. In fact, it’s the smallest as a percentage of the economy in decades. And its biggest part is $83 billion for veterans’ health care, another demi-military program, which Cadet Bone Spurs claims not to want to touch.

So unless every federal worker — not just those affected by the shutdown, but basically everyone not in the Social Security Administration, Centers for Medicare and Medical Services and the Pentagon — takes a powder, twice, the shutdown will not do anything about reaching balanced-budget goals the GOP has fraudulently touted for decades as it whittled taxes away from the upper tiers of the population.

So, please, no talk about shrinking the government. The shrinkage in government’s share of the economy, which happened gradually over many years, was not accomplished when the president’s party was in power anyway. This president doesn’t know enough about the government to shrink it.

The “starve the beast” argument also assumes there is no value to the services being crippled by the shutdown. That might be news to the market for initial public stock offerings and other capital-raising, hampered if not crippled by the shutdown’s impact on the Securities and Exchange Commission. Thanks to the shutdown’s impact on the Commerce Department, the markets will not get the usual report on fourth-quarter gross domestic product on time late this month unless the department reopens.

This is information that guides investment on Main Street as well as Wall Street, and investment was weak in the third quarter already, as Trump’s tax bill failed to galvanize spending on structures (which fell at a 3.4% annual rate) and equipment thanks partly to the offsetting, depressing impact of his trade policies.

The drug industry really can’t function without the Food and Drug Administration. Lighter travel by federal workers is costing Delta Air Lines $25 million this month, according to CEO Ed

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  And what about the federal courts, which will run out of money this week. But they’re not important — they only sustain the rule of law, which you don’t need to get rich if you’re a Russian oligarch.

And the value you get for this disruption, dear citizen, is President Trump’s insistence that only a wall along the border will suffice to contain a problem with illegal crossings that have declined 80% or more since 2000 already. This is thanks to two things: A better Mexican economy, thanks largely to trade deals Trump disdains, and better enforcement.

All provided by workers who work harder than the president.

You don’t get lower taxes for all this mess. You don’t get a smaller government. You certainly don’t get “fiscal responsibility,’’ whatever that even is any more. And you don’t get a better economy.

You just get Trump’s ego, and his general blowhardiness, and that of his remarkably poor staff.

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