Shutdown fallout: Things not to think about

Regardless of when the latest partial shutdown ends, and the next one begins, there are a number of things you, both a federal civil servant and a functioning, rational and responsible human being should not be thinking about. I repeat, do not think about this in the weeks ahead. For instance:

  • If you are planning a long or, for that matter, short airline flight soon do not consider that the men and women who will guide you across the Atlantic, or from Boston to San Diego have spent the last couple of weeks worrying about their mortgages or rent. They are maybe a little preoccupied and feeling guilty about how they will feed the children until the next paycheck is actually deposited in their bank accounts. Also, don’t worry that much that the Federal Aviation Administration training facility in Oklahoma had to shut down due to lack of funds. This is despite the fact that the nation faces a critical shortage of air traffic controllers and that it takes two to three years to bring them up to professional grade. So don’t think about that either for at least the next couple of years, especially if we have shutdowns in the future — which we no doubt will.
  • If you are just an ordinary citizen with no control over government spending or political catfights between millionaires in Congress, the Cabinet and the White House don’t worry about federal or postal workers with possibly serious medical conditions. Maybe somebody in or out of government is waiting for break-through approval of a still-under-review drug that could ease the pain, or save their child’s life?
  • Don’t depress yourself worrying about a federal firefighter or law enforcement officer who had to work during the shutdown but hasn’t been paid. Based on past shutdowns they know they will be paid someday, as will those who couldn’t work. But not knowing when someday is can be — is vexing too strong a word? And these are important issues not only to the individual civil servant (who realizes he/she is a pawn) but to the creditors to have their own bills to pay and mouths to feed. What could possibly go wrong, right?
  • While it’s true most of the millions of federal contractors won’t get paid, ever, for time lost to the shutdown, why should you sweat it? After all, they decided to work alongside feds in federal projects. Didn’t they know that the government has lots of shutdowns and while their government colleagues will get paid someday, for the contractors this is a gift to the nation?
  • Also if you were/are/will be a victim of the shutdown, take comfort in the fact that the people who produced this and previous shutdowns are alright. They mostly viewed it from Mt. Olympus, i.e. the White House, the House and the Senate. Shutdowns don’t impact the majority-millionaire elected and appointed officials who steer our ship of state and, increasingly, run into Uncle Sam’s version of the Titanic iceberg.
  • What’s next? Of course we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, and hopefully it was inspected and approved or fixed by the Department of Transportation or the Army Corps of Engineers before the shutdown, right?

Whatever, think positively. Because come to think of it, you have no choice, right? What are you going to do, write your member of Congress or the White House?

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

The 50-star US flag was designed by a high school student in 1958. For a class project inspired by Betsy Ross, Bob Heft sewed two additional stars onto the 48-star flag based on a hunch two more states would be added to the Union. His teacher gave him a B-, but Heft sent the flag to Washington and two years later received a phone call from President Dwight Eisenhower saying the design would be officially adopted. After that, Heft’s teacher changed the grade to an A.

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