Government shutdown: not just a Washington problem

The shutdown is in full force. Think you’re just a bystander to the temporary, yet pervasive, hollowing out of our public labor force? According to SUNY spokesperson David Doyle, “Higher education is not insulated from the effects of a government shutdown, and while we do not know the full extent of the impact on SUNY, the severity will largely depend on the duration.”

If this so-called shutdown is permanent – or at least longer than five days – there is the potential of things like federally funded work study jobs to halt. Raise your hand if you work in the College Union!

The lollygagging of Congress is something that affects all of us. We, as consumers, chose public institutions for our education, and those workers now out of work chose the public sector as their employer. Because of that, we all suffer at the hand of Congress, which is now a toddler-filled playground with one set of swings.

But shame on us for relying on something so obviously volatile, right? Down with the “non-essentials” that are the Environmental Protection Agency and national parks and those who expected to go to work on Oct. 1. I pity the fool who didn’t see this coming.

We all knew it from the beginning: The government is bloated. It is so obvious that they’re able to sustain this shutdown only because those people sitting at home, twiddling their thumbs – they’re unnecessary.

Let’s forget the work that they do and the income upon which they rely. Aren’t you glad that the men and women in Congress are taking their time to smooth out the glitches in this agreement, seemingly surprised that it came again, as it has and always will every year?

Did we forget that we’re on a fiscal year? Boehner, was it you who thought the deadline was Jan. 1?

The deadline thing is more understandable. As college students especially, we know what’s up. Trained to glisten our way through every argument with our instructors, our number one priority isn’t getting the job done in a thorough and timely manner – we like to beat around that bush until the last minute, ultimately costing others time and patience. They have college degrees up on the Hill – we’re all in on the secret.

But in all seriousness, this mismanagement is simply inappropriate. Just the threat to some public programs is frightening: Food and Drug Administration inspections, potentially the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, the Federal Housing Administration’s loans, disability applications – you would be surprised at how many agencies, duties and people are qualified as “non-essential.”

Whether you’re lefty, righty, moderate or all over the place, the last drop of your political efficacy definitely went down the drain this week. On the line are almost one million federal employees wondering when they will work next and cursing the life that a civil worker leads.

While we won’t ever be able to control the selfishness of our representatives, perhaps it’s at least time for a restructuring in the way that we handle and treat those people in our public workforce and those who benefit from its services. Here is a call for Non-Essentials Appreciation Day; a drink to all those 800,000 out there who are unsure of when they return to work, probably unsure of why they ever agreed to be a part of this dysfunctional machine that is the U.S. government. Cheers to you: You could probably use it the most anyway.