The View From Your Shutdown

More readers share their stories:

Yup, I’m a federal employee who was furloughed.  And because of it, I can’t afford to keep paying my husband’s home health aid (he’s a 30-year paraplegic and 4-year stroke survivor).  Not only will I be home to tend him, but I won’t have the income to pay this good, hard-working young lady.  And because she has lost HER income, she will have to let go her child’s babysitter.

Update from a reader:

About the woman who “can’t afford to keep paying” her husband’s personal health aide.  It’s three days into the shutdown.  She will almost certainly be reimbursed.  Does she have no personal savings whatsoever?  If so, shame on her.  I find that those on the Democratic side often pay lip service to the idea of individual responsibility, but I wonder sometimes what they think it means.  A federal employee with full health benefits and a good federal savings plan really has no excuse for not having, at the very least, six months of living expenses saved up.  That is basic personal finance.  No doubt, some people are hurting from the sequester and the shutdown, but this knee-jerk helplessness is frankly annoying.

Update from another:

Excuse me? No excuse for not having six months of living expenses saved up? How about having a paraplegic spouse and all the costs that entails? Does this person realize how many people in this country are living paycheck to paycheck? Having six months of living expenses is a luxury to millions in this country.  To judge someone with a disabled spouse for struggling immediately from this shutdown, when the whole point of the shutdown is to stop a healthcare bill that will keep people from going bankrupt because of medical bills … just stunning.

Another reader:

I work at the National Science Foundation. As you can see from the photo, we shut down photo-29completely. So, I’ve been furloughed. I had hoped it’d be a day, perhaps two at most, but by the looks of it now, it might last into next week and beyond.

This is costing a fortune. Part of my work is planning and organizing very needed collaborative meetings between scientists. I have several coming up. If the shutdowncontinues another week, those will be postponed or canceled with the attending loss of monies that were sunk into flights, rentals, etc. In my event alone, dozens of scientists and educators will have to cancel flights and plans and NSF will have to eat the cost. Of course this doesn’t take into account the hundreds of man hours of preparation it took to get this meeting off the ground, which now will have been for naught.

And I’m not getting paid. I can handle a few days, but the further this goes on, the more likely it is this will turn into a hardship. I absolutely love my job. I believe it is a huge benefit to our nation and to people. I love it because I truly believe that. I go into every day of work with a purpose that benefits the nation and mankind, and I work with amazing people. What more could a man want?

And yet I am not even allowed to work with no pay during the shutdown. It’s actually against the law. I honestly wish I could.

Fiscal conservatives? Surely not.


I’m an attorney for nonprofits and small businesses.  Because of the shutdown, it’s impossible to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which in most cases is required in order to open a corporate bank account.  Without a bank account, my startup clients simply cannot begin operating.  (Before someone raises the idea, using a personal bank account can lead to personal liability – something we never recommend.) Talk about grinding business to a halt.  Any Republican who says the shutdown is just a “slimdown” clearly isn’t trying to start a business.


My 18-year-old daughter was supposed to start a year of community service in AmeriCorps on Oct. 7 in Denver, where one imagines they could use some young, barely paid idealists to help with the flood damage.  She was very excited to get started on this adventure, and deferred her college start date for a year in order to serve.  What message have we sent her and all those who work for lower pay and lower appreciation in public service?

While the Neo-Confederate toddlers stamp their feet and hold their breath, it is America that is turning blue.

Many more stories below:

First of all, I promise to [tinypass_offer text=”subscribe”].  I’ve just been too busy to pull out the credit card, but I will do so now after I send this note. Anyway, the view from my shutdown is this:

I am the Chair of the Board of a non-profit organization that does a great deal of work on a variety of science issues.  I would say that about a quarter of our effort is with federal partners.  We scheduled a small conference for this month about two years ago and the staff of the organization spent a considerable amount of time and money in putting it together.  It is looking more likely that we will cancel the event, since many of the participants cannot attend now.

In addition, we work with our federal partners on a number of science issues and all of this work is looking like it will be delayed  considerably and the staff of our organization is having to jump into other projects, only to likely jump back when the government becomes sane again.  Some of this work is rather time sensitive and will require starting experiments over.

As the chairman of the board of this organization, I am starting to strategize how we can better align our resources so we do not have to work with an increasingly erratic and anti-science federal government.  We also work with a number of state and local governments and they are very easy to work with and do not have these insane battles.  It is looking increasingly like state and local governments are the adults in the overall governance of our nation.


I’m a medical research scientist focused on developing therapy for ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease). Half of my funding comes from private foundations such as the ALS Association; the other half from the National Institutes of Health. With the shutdown, we’ve been told that we are permitted to proceed using the funds already disbursed, but not to expect any further funding until the shutdown is over. We will be OK for a few weeks and then the programs will begin to rapidly degrade. The consequences of the shutdown will be amplified by the way NIH funding is a rolling system.

I also review grant applications to the NIH on ALS research. I’m not paid to do this; it’s a service many of us do out of scientific citizenship. About 1 in 11 of these grants get funded typically, but it will be awhile before any new grants are processed because the entire system is shut down. For every day this system is shut down, it will take 2-3 days to get through the backlog in addition to the new work.


I think that this is a very important thread because it brings to life the very real consequences created by a very small group of wack-jobs.  Next week I was planning to take my family on a vacation to see the Grand Canyon for the very first time.  We have been excitedly planning this trip for the past 8 months.  My daughters have been learning about the Grand Canyon and surrounding areas and we were excited to finally be able to see this amazing place with our own eyes.  I cancelled the trip this morning.

It’s unfortunate that we won’t be seeing the Canyon, but what’s more important is that a handful of restaurants, hotels, gas stations and gift shops will not be getting my money.  We had planned on around $2000 for the trip for hotels, food, gas gifts and sight seeing.  I know that this doesn’t sound like a lot but it adds up when hundreds if not thousands of others are being forced to do the very same thing.  The funniest part about this is that the congressman who represents Northern Arizona is one of the Republican wack-jobs responsible for this shutdown, so in a way I’m happy my money will not be supporting his district.

One more reader:

My best friend’s brother is a park ranger in Utah in charge of making sure no one enters a national park in Southern Utah, which is closed while the government is shutdown. Yesterday he spent the day being cursed at, cried to, and even spit at (seriously, people?) for having to turn visitors away at the gate. It’s unfortunate and not right, but it’s not the first time that people take out their anger and frustration on the messenger.

But similar reprehensible actions coming from a US Representative, in public, to a government worker? Unconscionable. Not much showcases the Beltway bubble more than seeing and hearing a congressman shaming a government worker for doing her job, whose current duties are a direct ramification of that very congressman’s neglect to do his own job. They’re so insulated within their echo chamber they’re completely divorced from reality. And these are the people threatening the entire world economy without even knowing their own demands.