Will the government shutdown of 2018-19 trigger the massive brain drain some experts have been predicting since the late 1990s?
Will government service become less attractive to young people seeking interesting and steady careers? Or has it already happened, thanks to four shutdowns in a 12-month period, including the most recent wall-to-wall 24/7 news coverage of unpaid feds visiting soup kitchens and pulling money out of their retirement accounts?
Are politicians of both political parties doing what foreign terrorists can’t do, which is shutdown the government, as one affected fed believes?
The most recent shutdown is a major financial hit on hundreds of thousands of federal workers who, in some cases, will never recover. The 800,000 feds hit by the furlough will eventually get paid. But a larger number of federal contractors hit by the furlough will never recoup their financial losses.
Hundreds of jurisdictions have lost tax revenue as merchants double-down because their federal patrons aren’t spending what they don’t have. The Metro public transit system in the Washington, D.C. area loses hundreds of thousands of dollars each day of the furlough.
So what are folks in the trenches saying? A lot of them are fed up and many people who have contacted us here at Federal News Network say they’ve had it. They plan to retire as soon as they are able. And some of them are going to be very hard to replace: Air traffic controllers, for example, don’t grow on trees. They take several years to train, which is a problem because the Federal Aviation Administration training facility in Oklahoma is closed because of, you guessed it, the shutdown.
Here’s what some people are going through:
“Our family is holding up okay for the moment. Fortunately, we have a reserve fund and some other means at our disposal. However, we are in the minority. As you know, nearly 80 percent of Americans cannot absorb a small emergency expense. For the long term, the issue I see with this is the complete lack of respect for civil servants displayed by our elected officials and many members of this administration.
“For someone to say that we will ‘make adjustments,’ or that this is a ‘vacation’ is both absurd and outrageous. Civil service used to be a honorable calling. Now we’ve been demonized by certain politicians and special interest groups to the point that 1) as soon are folks are eligible, they are retiring, with little or no knowledge transfer, 2) we are losing mid-career professionals to the private sector, and 3) we are having trouble recruiting the next generation of public servants.
“It’s time for the men and women who work for us to do their jobs — pass the spending bills, re-open the government, get us back pay, and pass legislation to prevent future shutdowns. We don’t care whose fault it is, we just want to be paid if we are working and we want to go back to work if we’re furloughed. Simple as that.” —Cincinnatus
“The administration along with Congress are doing exactly what our true enemies, al-Qaida and ISIS dream of: Disrupt the US government economically and culturally for a painfully significant amount of time. Osama [bin Laden] would be proud of our dysfunctional accomplishments.
“To break the impasse, I highly recommend that a substantial number of moderate representatives and senators from both sides of the aisle band together and pass legislation that can be veto-proof. In this manner, it forces Trump to either accept the will of Congress or clearly show that he owns the shutdown without excuse.
“This will in turn provide a basic ‘Civility 101’ for our country of both parties to be proud of. Government does work and is free and functional.” —Concerned Citizen, Suitland, Maryland
Tony Krolik, a retired IRS worker, said the extended shutdown will create “a tsunami of retirements and there will be a need for new federal workers but the fact people can be furloughed for the most stupid and selfish reasons will have an impact on these openings.” He also warned that overworked and stressed out employees may crack, with dangerous results.