Shutting down the shutdown

What if they shut down a government and no one noticed?

To be fair, there are a couple things about that statement that don’t fit. First of all, the government has not “shut down” – it has just cut back on a few things while our friends in Washington, D.C., argue about a wall.

Second, we’re living here in western Ohio where we don’t notice the federal government all that much on most days – well, unless you happen to work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. I guess that if this goes on much longer and things start happening like tax returns being delayed, people here will notice things are different in a hurry.

I will say that we have noticed one thing: it’s really embarrassing when your duly elected leaders act like a bunch of pre-schoolers fighting over a box of Legos. (Hey, maybe that’s how they could build the wall!)

Is it just me, or does holding the entire nation hostage while two sides fight over one issue seem like a really stupid way to run a country?

Since 1980, there have been 22 government “shutdowns.” Most of them were short affairs, but 10 have resulted in what is called furloughs for government employees. This is a nice way of saying non-essential government employees (how would you like to be classified as “non-essential?) aren’t getting paid, but a lot of them are still required to work. I get a little bit nervous when people like air traffic controllers and airport security people aren’t getting paid. Hey! Pay those people! Keep them happy.

This has resulted in claims by one side that we could have federal employees leaving their jobs like so many rats leaving a sinking ship. This is not going to happen. They have good jobs, and they know it; they will get all their back pay eventually, and they know it; there just aren’t that many comparable jobs out there that are easy to find, and they know that, too. It’s a hardship, and it’s reprehensible that our fearless leaders are willing to use their employees as pawns in their little games, but the workers will survive.

And as for the wall – you know, there’s already a lot of wall there. Do we need more walls and bigger walls and billions of dollars worth of walls? Everyone seems to disagree, but it should be decided by elected representatives working together to find a solution without this kind of high-level extortion. Look at it this way: people are being sent home from their jobs because of an argument over how to keep people who want jobs out of the country by people who aren’t doing their jobs.

There have been all kinds of hardships due to this shutdown. Why, just the other day President Trump invited the Clemson football team to the White House for dinner and had to feed them fast food because the White House chef is a non-essential government employee. This caused quite an uproar among my brethren in the media. It was not such a big deal for most of the football players who probably thought a chance to eat as many cheeseburgers as they wanted was a pretty cool thing.

I think we need to rewrite whatever law it is that makes these “shutdowns” such a regular occurrence. My suggestion is that the government allow us, the people, to determine what federal jobs are essential. Personally, I think all federal jobs are essential except for people who work at the White House and people who work on Capitol Hill. When the government shuts down, they would be the only people who wouldn’t get paid. Plus, we’ll add a little amendment to the bill when no one is looking that says non-essential employees who are not paid during a shutdown will not be eligible for back pay. That would change some attitudes.

Maybe we could throw the Supreme Court in there, too – just in case Congress and the White House are especially obstinate and immature. You can bet the injunctions would be flying around in a hurry if that were the case.

I imagine if you’re a Republican, you’re saying this is Nancy Pelosi’s fault, and if you’re a Democrat, you’re saying this is Donald Trump’s fault. I have to say they look like equal opportunity numbskulls to me. Everyone wants to be the tough guy and doesn’t want to lose. As it turns out, the ones who end up losing are the people they are supposed to be serving.

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David Lindeman

Contributing Columnist

David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at