- Posted October 11, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Shutdown over: What next?
Furlough – Day 9 –The Long-Term Impacts
During the last shutdown, the main issue was between Congress and the President on how to fund the government, what programs to sustain, and how to cut spending. The issues were all tied to the federal budget, more or less, and to many the argument was a long time coming. After two shutdowns, the second lasting 22 days, the government was back to work and moving forward. Not having been a federal employee during the event I can only conjecture on its long-term impacts based upon reports and summaries, oral histories, etc. That being said, the feeling I get is that the last shutdown was annoying and affected the 1996 election, but most federal employees impacted don’t seem to be overly bitter about the experience today. This time does not feel the same.
The first and most substantial difference with this shutdown is the fact it is not about disagreements over how to fund the government per say. The arguments and reasons for the shutdown this time are tied to one party’s attempts to not fund a health care act. Many of the analogies about holding the government work force hostage, regardless of what side of the fence you sit on, ring true. Furthermore, the continuously vague and almost confusing rhetoric bouncing around makes it clear that the folks who designed this minor coup were poorly informed both about the federal government they support and the potential impacts of the shutdown. These were not strategic thinking leaders with fiscal responsibility at the forefront of their minds. On the contrary, the more you read and hear, the more one realizes that many of the folks involved in this shutdown, especially on one side of the fence, had an axe to grind, and grind they were going to do.
As a federal employee that says something to me. It says I am a pawn and at the whim of a bunch of elected aristocrats who neither know nor care what I do. It seems that neither my individual well-being nor that of my comrades now at home ever was factored into the decisions to force a government shutdown. To put it frank, it was a damn game, and to some, still is.
After the shutdown is over, realizations like those illustrated above will play heaviest on the minds of federal employees. Why should they give their government their all when one half is willing to send them adrift and the other is unable to protect them? Why should any of us go the extra mile when tomorrow we could be sent home to worry about how to pay our bills for nothing but petty rivalry? Why should I kill myself to get that one project done in time when the games folks play in Washington D.C. seem not value it anyway? I think both productivity and morale will be measurably and negatively impacted for years to come.
I hope I am wrong. I hope, like with the 95-96 shutdowns we move on, forgive, and forget. I hope, but I know better. In reading the posts on CNN iReport and similar sites it is clear to me the scars of this wound will be a long-time healing.