Thursday, October 3, 2013

Non-essential Government

Yes, it's been a while. You can blame a lot of factors, work, grad school, life in general. But in the interest of household tranquility (in other words, so I stop yelling at the TV), I'm back to blogging.

There's a lot already said about the government shutdown, which is a blazing display of congressional stupidity, but the two things that jump out at me are non-essential workers and use of the word partial.

Here are a few jobs that are considered non-essential:
The National Guard
contractors supporting the military
Researchers at the CDC and NIH
technical staff who run the various governmental databases like e-verify (used to verifiy people for employment), PubMed (medical publication database that relies on government imput), FBI background checks (hope you didn't want that conceled cary license).
Pretty much any agency that uses government funds or people for scientific research like NOAA.
Food safety inspectors at the FDA
OSHA inspectors

and the list goes on. Each one of those people have families that rely on them, they rely on those jobs to pay bills, save for college or retirement, buy groceries, everything that people do in order to live. Not only are those people out of luck, the people who support them are also in jepardy. Food service workers who don't have a cafeteria to work in. The hot dog cart vendor on the street who doesn't have tourists or workers to buy his food. Cleaning crews who aren't needed to clean office buildings. 

Non-essential means the job can be put on hold for the short term but that will have repercussions which will only get worse the longer this shutdown goes on.

Which brings me to the word 'partial' to describe the shutdown. This isn't 'partial'. There is nothing about this that's 'partial'. Just because some aspects of the government are stil functioning (with the exception of Congress), that doesn't mean everything is hunky-dory, nothing to see here, lalalala, let's get on with life.  Partial makes it seem like this isn't really a big deal, like we're all over-reacting, which couldn't be further from the truth. This has a major impact on everyone, whether they realize it or not. 

The CDC will not be monitoring flu season, which means the flu vaccine may or may not be effective. The NTSB will not be monitoring safety standards for cars and trucks, which could halt production. The NIH isn't doing research or accepting new pations, which means people will die. The Head Start progams nationwise will start to close, which means children will lose access to early education and parents will have to scramble for childcare. The WIC and SNAP programs will lose funds which means low income women and children won't be able to eat. 

National parks and monuments and muesums are closed and that's lost income for the people who work there and maintain them (and for the people who enjoy them) but the impact is far, far greater than the little inconvienece the word 'partial' implies. These are people's lives that are being destoyed in the name of political ideology and that is just disgusting. Our congressional leaders have the lives of the American people in their hands and they're treating us with such breathtaking disrespect, it's beyond shameful.

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