Friday, October 4, 2013

Government Shutdown Day Three

Today begins the third (full) day of lockout for me; with a nasty blizzard to match my mood.

I am one of the more than 8,500 proud Federal public servants who live and work in our fine state.

My office in Rapid City, which hosts some 35 Federal scientists and support staff that study and protect natural resources across the State is shuttered. I am not allowed to visit my desk, or even power up my GFE ("government-furnished equipment"), that is, my work laptop, until a continuing resolution is passed and signed.

It was encouraging to see even the South Dakota liberal media see this "defiance" from Republicans in Congress for what it is: a tantrum held in opposition to the legislative process.

To make things worse, given the current appetite for austerity (despite that the deficit is dramatically dropping every year), it seems unlikely we will be paid for our forced unemployment.

Hey, I'm a smart guy, why can't I just get a real job?

  • I do have a real job. The Speaker of the U.S. House is keeping me from it by not allowing an up or down vote on a clean continuing resolution. Is this that complicated?
  • It's not our fault our income has been taken away.
  • We are left with very limited ways to replace that income during a shutdown.
    • We are prevented by ethics rules from taking outside employment related to our Federal jobs. There are exceptions, but they have to be approved by our supervisors and the agency Ethics Office, which, you guessed it, are locked of their offices as well.
    • Even if it were allowed, who is going to hire me for said skilled job when I could be called back at any time, when the moment finally comes when the Speaker of the US House of Representatives decides to, uh, allow an up or down vote on a clean continuing resolution?
  • The cumulative economic hit from about one percent of South Dakota's population having their income (and spending) is big. It's even worse in other states.
  • Lastly, I have been fortunate to be able to do some side work (unrelated to my Fed job of course), but of course at a small fraction of my regular pay. It's not enough to meet my expenses.
Whether our pay is docked or not, this shutdown is very bad for America, South Dakota, and Robbinsdale. You can bet this level of uncertainty is docking my household spending and that of the many other Feds in our fair city -- the ripple effects in our local South Dakota economies are going to hit Main Street hard here.

Oh, but it will be the President's fault because uh, freedom.

What happened to Republicans that promised simple up or down votes? They seem to have checked their brains, and their sense of fairness, at the door.

Yesterday, in the aftermath of the Mall security scare, the WaPo editorial board really laid it out well:

“We all owe the Capitol Police a debt of gratitude for their work every day; no finer examples of professionalism & bravery,” tweeted House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). That’s true. But Mr. Boehner owes them, and the rest of the federal workforce, more than a 140-character message of thanks. He owes them a paycheck; he owes them a budget; he owes them an apology.

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