The View From Your Shutdown

Stories for our popular series continue:

I’m a federal employee furloughed from my job teaching at one of the military academies. Our academy leadership decided to keep classes running while the 30% of our faculty who are civilian had to stay home. That means not only that civilian faculty like me have no work and no pay, but military faculty are teaching two or three sections of cadets combined. Some upper-level classes have been suspended, and fourth-year cadets who need these classes to graduate may be in danger of not meeting their course requirements for graduation. But pretty soon it will be hard to give them credit for the courses.


I am yet another furloughed employee in the DC area. I am frustrated. I am sick of being demonized. I have had to turn off the news because I just get a lump in my throat every time someone asks why the government even has nonessential employees or a Congressman says he is keeping his paycheck because he earned it. I felt like Congressman Neugebauer was talking to me when he was yelling at that poor park ranger. Since when was doing your job something to be ashamed of?

Yesterday I got an email from my employees union saying they would be rallying at the Capitol photo (27)today. Since I can’t be at work, I wandered down there this morning. I saw hundreds of employees from the various federal employee unions chanting “We want to work!” and “Let them vote!” I’m a little embarrassed to say it, but I teared up. I’ve been a union member for years, but it wasn’t until this year that I realized just how important they are. They are looking out for us when no one else is. There were numerous members of Congress out at the rally, too, expressing support. I didn’t see one Republican though. Not one. They hate us. For doing our jobs. And their behavior has just made a big union supporter out of me!

I read to my son every night. Lately he has been asking for us to read a children’s Bible he got for his Baptism. Last night I read the story of how Jesus was so kind to Zacchaeus the tax collector. I know the federal government isn’t perfect, and I fully support making improvements. I just wish these nominally Christian right-wingers would stop demonizing all of us and start looking at the logs in their own eyes.


My husband is a real estate agent and recently sold a house that was owned by a federal government employee.  The government was paying for the relocation, but as a result of the shutdown, the payment of the real estate commission is being held up.  In his case, it is $14,000 he was expecting at the first of this month, but won’t get until the shutdown is over and then know who knows how long after that.

One of several more readers:

I do not now work for the federal government and am following my usual schedule, but the environmental change in DC is huge.

It took me less than 30 minutes to get to my destination in downtown DC today, unheard of for a Monday morning even when Congress is not in session. At Union Station, most of the restaurants have substantial amounts of their dining areas closed off and the remainder sparsely populated – they have to be hurting.  The Starbucks, whose line usually extends at least 20 feet out into the station, had half a dozen people waiting. The whole place was hushed – and it’s usually a three-ring circus on weekdays at lunch hour.  Dupont Circle looks dead.

But I had to smile this weekend.  Some roads in Rock Creek Park have been left open as they really are major traffic routes, but most are blocked off, as are all picnic and recreation areas.  But on this sunny Sunday, cars were parked right up against those barriers and on nearby level grass, and people were having picnics, playing frisbee with dogs and otherwise enjoying THEIR park.  I saw one young woman in riding clothes exit her car near a barrier and stride off defiantly in the direction of the stable.  The parks belong to the people.  Dammit, the whole country belongs to the people.  This is a farce.  Just hope it ends before becoming a tragedy.


A point yet to be brought up is that American students living abroad are coming to that time of having to pay for their terms. I’m currently an overseas student, who thanks to school support and financially well-off parents, does not have to worry about this. But I have more than a few friends who are currently abroad with ZERO loan money being disbursed out, even though it’s being reported that this should not be a problem for a majority of loan programs.

This is not only an issue from an education standpoint, but a livelihood one,as well. These people are having to rely on infrequent, and expensive money wires or close friends to get by. Furthermore, if you want to talk about US prestige in the eyes of the international community, nothing looks worse than the government being a deadbeat dad and failing to pony up funds for education. All is not lost, as some universities are developing schemes of directly loaning American students money against what they say they will pay. But this is still deplorable state of affairs being largely ignored by those most responsible.


As I read these stories of the effects of this shutdown on employees of the federal government and the businesses like hotels adjacent to national parks, and how the effects cascade down to the people who depend on those employees and businesses for their livelihoods, the phrase “trickle-down economics” keeps coming to mind. It would seem that “trickle-down” actually works after all, but not in a very good way.