Furlough or Not

January 26, 2019

BW photograph of wind-torn Maryland and U.S. flags laying in bushes.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The partial government shutdown ended, at least temporarily, after having reached 35 days in length-it was by far the longest in U.S. history to date.  According to Vox, “Approximately 380,000 federal employees are currently furloughed and 420,000 are expected to work without pay…”

BW photograph of wind-torn Maryland and U.S. flags laying in bushes.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

That quote came from this article, which provides graphics and details to summarize the effect-this is a “big picture” (macro) view.  A micro analysis of the shutdown would examine the individual stories of deprivation due worker’s lost wages and the shock waves extending outward to those who also depend on government employees for their livelihood-some of those are described here and here.

BW photograph of wind-torn Maryland and U.S. flags laying in bushes.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The members of Congress were being paid during the shutdown.

Beyond the financial impact, though, is the psychological toll being exacted on those furloughed workers, their dependents, and those who rely on federal employees for their well-being-this includes anyone flying via U.S. airports.  Earlier this month, the president said that the shutdown could last for “months or even years“.  Such language does nothing but exacerbate the stress and worry of all involved.  More on this point later.

Yesterday, the president announced an agreement to re-open the government until February 15, which is, indeed, important.  The president gave an address explaining his position on the agreement, which included his current description of the alternatives for border security and the need for such.  Should an agreement not be reached, the president stated the government would be again shut down and he would use executive power by declaring a national emergency to address the funding for the wall.  It is worth listening to the speech and then fact-checking the information for validity.  For example, the president repeatedly refers to the heroin being smuggled into the country from Mexico as one reason for the wall-the evidence, including the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) Drug Threat Assessment report, does not support that claim.  The definition of “wall” also changes.

The measures taken by Congress yesterday and last evening do not address the funding for border security.  As is usual, more will be revealed as this process continues.  For all affected by the shutdown, there is a temporary respite for many-federal contractors appear to not be getting lost pay.  In addition, the spectre of another shutdown hovers as work continues to find, and fund, a politically agreeable solution to address border security.  Should that not occur in the next three weeks, and the president declares a national emergency, more political and legal wrangling may be the result.  Federal workers and their associates may again be in the middle.  For them, this could be an intense three weeks.

What is also clear is that the appeal of working for the government, doing civil service, has taken a hit.  That may, in fact, turn out to be the longer term casualty for which there are higher consequences.

Take care.

 

 

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