Congress should not be permitted to mask its irresponsibility by maintaining so-called “essential services” during the government shutdown [“Are you essential?” news, Sept. 29]. This creates the illusion that Congress really is being responsible. More dangerous, it perpetuates the myth that stripped-down government can satisfactorily serve our entire society.

The president should shut it all down. No commercial aviation. No Social Security or military paychecks. No food in the supermarket because there are no Agriculture Department food inspectors. Let those who think a shutdown is a grand idea understand what government really is and what it really does.

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) got it right: These are all essential services.

Michael L. Goldberg, Arlington