January 24, 2019: When will this nightmare end?

There have been some frightening indications that this partial Government shutdown won’t be ending any time soon. The most recent moves among the White House, Congress, and State and local governments is to find ways to mitigate the impact of the shutdown.

The first indicator, I posted yesterday — Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is asking Agencies to provide him with the list of impacts of another two months more shutdown.

The second indicator is the proposed bill by some Congressmen to push for immediate pay for those Federal workers who are working without pay. Again, a recognition that funding for the Agencies affected by the shutdown won’t be coming soon, so let’s find a way to cope. Just as frightening is the call by Federal employee unions to “pay our workers NOW”; that is, support this bill.

The third indicator of the “normalization” of the shutdown is the move by States, local governments, and nonprofits to provide aid to Federal workers and contractors affected by the shutdown. It started with the pop up food pantries targeted to feds. It’s expanded to banks and credit unions offering 60 day interest-free loans and forbearance on mortgages and other recurring payments. The Washington Post reports that the District of Columbia is offering no interest loans to Federal workers and is acting to prevent landlords from evicting Federal workers.

These moves are noble but they miss the point. Crucial work is not being performed. Federal prosecutors are not able to collect evidence to convict accused criminals. Federal court backlogs are growing. The hurricane model is not being updated. Preparations for the 2020 Census are halted. Taxpayers are unable to get help filing their taxes. Work to prevent forest fires in California is not being done. I could go on and on.

My work is not as urgent as those listed above, but it is valuable. I desperately want to return back to work. This shutdown madness needs to end.

January 15, 2019: Uncertainty

Now that the DC judge has ruled against the federal employees’ unions lawsuits (see my previous post), hope of having this shutdown end anytime soon has faded for me. I really am concerned that this shutdown will last for a number of weeks. While I have the resources to ride out an extended furlough, I know many people don’t. But its not just about me. What does it say about the country that huge slices of work that the government does is being left undone. What does it say that over 400,000 people are working, often at hard, taxing jobs, with an unknown pay date?

I know that I’ve felt very discombobulated, without my normal routine and my normal tasks. I know that when I am able to return to work, there will be tons of emails and a lot of catch up to do. I know that I’m just a pawn in a larger political game and I feel powerless. Even calling my Representative and Senators is not really something that I feel gives me agency; for me, contacting them is like preaching to the choir. My Congressman and two Senators want the shutdown to end as much as anyone.

There was a period in the 1990s when I felt in limbo; when I was trying to get pregnant. It took nearly two years. In hindsight, that doesn’t seem that long, but at the time, it was v e r y d r a w n o u t. The big part was the uncertainty. Would I conceive this month? Next month? Next year? End up adopting? Resign myself to a childless life?

I had a lot of panic about that situation; I was in my late 30s and having a child was something I felt very passionate about. Towards the end of that period, though, I had an epiphany — this period was simply one act in my life; it would come to a close, something new would happen, and it was going to be all right. Shortly after that, I did end up conceiving and becoming a mother to a beautiful healthy child.

There are some lessons here, but I also recognize that the situation is very different. The commonality — feeling in limbo and having uncertainty. The differences — this isn’t about me, it’s about millions of people (if you add those living in households with the 800,000 affected Federal employees), plus all of the contractors and small businesses that are losing income, yes, it is millions). And its about the future of our national government, and thus, about our country. I don’t have the confidence this time that everything will be all right.

Comments welcome.