07 April 2011

Then shut it down

Possible government shutdown is 'scary' for workers.

No $%!^.

And what's it like on the inside?

It's very quiet here. Most of us are at our desks, working or trying to work, but the normal chatter is missing. No one really wants to talk about it any more. When we do talk, though, we can't avoid it. So we've stopped talking.

I say 'trying to work' because most of us are, in fact, dedicated to the idea of civil service and take our positions as guardians of the public trust seriously. But we are only human. This kind of anxiety makes it hard to focus, and while some of us have things we can wrap up neatly by Friday, some of us don't. It's hard to feel motivated to push a project forward when there's a strong chance you might not be able to finish it for an undetermined while.

The lack of information is frustrating. The only thing we do know is that if there is no budget, then we're all expected to turn up Monday morning anyway to spend 4 hours shutting down the agency. What does shutting down the agency entail? Other than setting our voicemail and out-of-office email message to indicate that we're in Limbo, we don't know.

The threat of no back pay may be hollow; I don't know that either. Failure to pay people in the federal government triggers various aspects of the Civil Service Reform Act and honestly, would cost more than authorising back pay. I am not sure how many in Congress (especially in the freshman class) realise that. I am not sure how many care if they do know. Privatising Medicare would also cost a lot of money (more than running it as a government programme) and yet that keeps being suggested as a cost-cutting measure too. So I don't know.

I'm tired. Tired of the general demonisation of federal workers. Tired of uncertainty, of wondering if I'll be able to pay my bills next week or next month. Tired of having a front-row seat at this most unbecoming of political theatres.

Just tired.

1 comment:

  1. God, I'm so sorry. Like most things, you hear about the general horror of a situation, whether Ivory Coast, or Japan, or Libya, but it takes the personal detail to bring it home. I hate the banality of peddling the 'human interest' story that goes on in many media, but beneath even that later of reductive reporting is the reality of life that people have to get through somehow. Again, I'm so sorry.


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