Shutdown shudders

Wall Street is booming, hitting new record highs after Sunday’s French election results. Despite, or maybe because of the bull market, official/establishment Washington, D.C., is gloomy. It is still trying to adjust (or not) to the fact that you-know-who is president. Shortly after President Donald Trump took office, the Washington Post added a line under its Page One masthead that says: “Democracy dies in darkness,” which a lot of people are still trying to figure out. It must amuse or anger some readers, while puzzling or creeping out others. Our local PBS radio outlet is running a feature on the “Trump Effect,” asking listeners to tell how things like dating have been impacted by the 45th president. Dating? Maybe we should check traffic in D.C. area maternity wards this October for signs of increased or decreased activity.

While worrying about the “wall” — will it be built, when and who will pay — and North Korea, and various wars in progress, some folks are also sweating the possibility of a government shutdown that could happen at 11:59 p.m. EDT this Friday. Or not. According to some reports, the natives (federal workers and their families) are restless or fearful.

Shutdowns occur when Congress fails to appropriate funds and plans (budgets) to run the government. That happens a lot, although actual shutdowns are rare. The last one a couple of years back idled about 40 percent of the federal workforce (non-emergency and nonessential employees), while other operations continued. Unlike furloughs that took place earlier that year, workers who were forced to stay home because of the shutdown did get payments. But many were paid late and requests for loans from furloughed, then shutdown employees stripped FEEA (the Federal Employees Education and Assistance fund) of most of its cash reserves. Members of Congress, who ordered the furloughs and allowed the shutdown to happen, continued to get paid, as did White House staffers. Somebody’s got to run things, right?

In Tuesday’s column, we asked ghosts of shutdowns past to tell us how it went, and how they held up. Or not.

From what we heard, feds are much more resilient and unafraid than the media makes them out to be. Like so:

”Hey Mike,

“I have been through a couple of government shutdowns and what kills me about this rhetoric is how it’s always a big deal and everybody should pay attention to Sen. BigStuff from Jerkland’s point of view even though he just came back from a three-week vacation to Never Never Land? If a shutdown is so serious and critical as the probee and old-time members of Congress would have you believe, why leave for three weeks instead of work through whatever fake issue is most popular so it can be voted on? Why do they get a vacation at all, while a peon like me got to cancel my (ONLY) vacation during the last shutdown 2013 and juggle paying my bills, juggle which meal to skip so my daughters eat, taking care of my daughters, one of whom has (expensive) special needs with no money coming in? You said it perfectly, a shutdown always costs money, I can’t recall any shutdown where it did not cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. The most pathetic aspect of Congress is they know months in advance, a shutdown is 100 percent avoidable, yet every single year it is the same rhetoric … maybe this year we should all just PUSH PLAY?

“I see lots of stupid people… make it stop Mike, please?” MTK

”Another governmentwide shutdown? Please, please, please more porridge sir. During the last shutdown my family had a blast. We headed to Ocean City, Maryland, for a fall break. Listened to the news only enough to determine when the shutdown would end. It was a spur-of-the-moment vacation of the kind we would never plan on our own, but which we thoroughly enjoyed. I can see why members of Congress take so many breaks. They are obviously very smart people. I sincerely hope their cleverness will give us a pre-summer vacation next week. Who do we call to vote ‘yes’.” What, Me Worry?

Planning for your next job?  If worst comes to worst, thousands of federal workers could be looking for new jobs in and out of government over the next few months.  So how out of practice are you? Do you remember the days of the SF 171?  Well, times have changed. Today at 10 a.m. on our Your Turn radio show, we’ll be talking with Nancy Segal, an expert in finding work in the 21st century. She was in HR for 30 years with Uncle Sam and now runs an operation that specializes in career planning, resume writing and how to use social media to get a job and get ahead.  If you have questions for Nancy, send them to me before showtime at Listen if you can and tell a friend. The show will be archived on the Your Turn pageso you can listen later if that works for you.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

Alfred E. Neuman made his debut as Mad Magazine’s mascot by appearing on the cover of The Mad Reader, a reprint paperback published in November 1954. He appeared for the first time on the magazine’s cover in issue #21 (March 1955).

Source: Wikipedia

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