I'm not a government or political expert by any stretch of the imagination. I have, however, been watching and reading the news with something akin to awe and horror over this latest crisis. It's sort of like Mom and Dad are fighting over whether to spend money on Junior's current private school education or on a new pool for the family to enjoy together, but since Mom is already mad at Dad about that little "incident" with Mrs. Smith at the last neighborhood barbecue and even though they made this decision MONTHS ago and it's really a done deal, suddenly they can't agree and so they pull Junior out of school altogether, cancel the appointment with the pool guy, AND stop doing necessary things like buying groceries and paying the cable bill. Then they go into their own rooms to sulk, because neither one is willing to give an inch. "It's my way or no way," says Mom. "No," says Dad. "It's MY way or nothing." And meanwhile Junior sits there, totally confused about what any of this has to do with his ability to watch Phineas & Ferb, since the cable's out. Well Junior, the answer, it seems, is both nothing and everything. Here's a little Q&A about what's going on.
Early this morning, both of my sisters got up and got ready for work, just like normal. They then drove the fairly long commute to their jobs, only to be given some paperwork to sign and then sent home.
They don't have to work today. Of course, they won't get paid, either, because of the government shutdown that happened at midnight last night. They are both civil service workers at Ft. Knox, Ky, which is only about 5 miles from my house. I know of at least three people who live in my neighborhood who are civil service workers, too, so I guess it will seem sort of like a weekend here, with lots of people home for the day.
Numerous classmates of Zachary will have parents home today too, without pay of course. And even though congress has passed a bill stating that all active duty military will continue to receive pay during the shutdown, I keep reading things that say delays are possible, simply because the support staff won't be in place to make sure the military paychecks arrive with military precision. So I guess the half dozen or so military folks that I know will just have to be patient.
My father in law, who is a retired Army officer, will probably have to be patient, too.
My Facebook friend who occasionally beats me at Words with Friends will have LOTS of time to play, but he's "lucky" because he will likely have a job through Friday. It seems that the US Army Corps of Engineers, for whom he works, will have enough money to operate through the end of the week. After Friday, though, I'd better brush up my Words skills, because he will have an unlimited number of hours to think of the right placement for those tricky Qs and Vs.
One of the local elementary schools was planning a fall field trip to Lincoln's Birthplace, like they do every year, but that will have to be postponed indefinitely because Lincoln's Birthplace falls under the National Parks Service, and that is being shut down as well. Instead of a field trip, these kids are getting an early and kind of harsh lesson in civics and government.
The husband of a former co-worker got to stay home today from his job for the National Museum Service, and his six year old is thrilled to have Daddy home for the day. Of course, his six year old probably doesn't understand about things like mortgages and car payments and electric bills, which have most definitely NOT been shut down.
Even my husband (and therefore me and my boys), who works in a mainly commission based job in a community where a fairly high percentage of the population is civil service or active/retired military, will likely feel a pinch in his commission check at the end of the month, because suddenly his customer base is out of work.
High ranking political leaders in both parties have been quoted as saying that most people won't notice the shutdown, but from where I'm sitting, it's pretty darn noticeable. In addition to the 800,000 or so government workers who are (at least temporarily) out of a job this morning, federally funded programs like Head Start could be impacted if this continues, and at least 20 of those Head Start programs likely won't be in service today. In addition, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) will stop operating. Senior Nutrition Grants, which provide meals for 2.5 million elderly Americans, will not be funded during the shut down either.
I guess the really, really hard part is that nobody knows how long this could go on. Maybe an agreement will be reached quickly, and in that case a bunch of people had an extra day or two off from work this week and their paychecks may look a bit lighter this time, but no lasting harm will probably be done. Or it could go on for a while. The last time our government shut down "non-essential" functions was in 1995/96, and that time it lasted for 28 days. At the end of that shutdown, some furloughed workers were paid retroactively for their missed wages, but for now, nobody knows what will happen.
So here's a little message to lawmakers on both sides of the party lines - people are being impacted. Real people who work hard and pay taxes and who just want to go to work and pay their bills and live their lives are feeling this already. And it's likely to affect even more people in bigger ways the longer it draws on.
So figure it out.
And I know that there are many, many larger issues at play here, like Affordable Healthcare, but that battle has already been fought (and lost or won, depending on your perspective) and since this shutdown is likely to cost taxpayers BILLIONS of dollars in lost revenues wouldn't it seem that this is doing the hard working people of our country more harm than good, no matter what your political views?
So figure it out.
People ARE being affected.
How about you? Do you know anyone who is being directly impacted by today's government shutdown?