Thursday, February 24, 2011

So what happens if we do shut down?

According to a recent report prepared by the Congressional Research Service, the results won't be quite what the teabaggers are hoping for.

1. Nonessential personnel (like clerks at the Social Security administration) get furloughed. So if you think a disability claim takes forever to be processed now, things could be about to get a whole lot worse. Then, when/if the furlough ends, those nonessential personnel may or may not get retroactive pay -- in other words, it's possible we'll be locked out of our jobs but will still get paid later for the time we spend sitting at home, meaning a recalcitrant irrational Congress will have inconvenienced the public without saving anyone a dime.

There was some speculation at our staff meeting today about quietly working remotely so we don't fall too far behind on getting the journal out, but apparently if a shutdown occurs, it will be a true shutdown: LNA's intranet will go down, at least in terms of remote access. Which is actually fine with me -- I like my job, but I'm not too keen on doing it for free.

It's possible all the public .gov websites will vanish, too, for the interim. I find myself thinking it's a shame the Global Positioning satellite system is considered essential by the military, because it would be a real nice wake-up call to everyone if they got up on March 5 and discovered their cars could no longer tell them how to find Starbucks. (And now I'm wondering just how many people even realize the GPS system is a U.S. government system? Probably about 1 out of a 1000, if that.) 

2. Personnel involved in military, law enforcement, or direct provision of health care activities (current inpatient and emergencies) keep right on working.  The good news: the nursing assistants at the VA hospitals will continue emptying bedpans. The bad news: TSA won't miss a beat in indulging in anal probes at the airport. Agencies are also allowed to keep sufficient numbers of personnel working to protect life and property (e.g., the Forest Service will send timber markers home, but can keep firefighters on standby). 

During the last government shutdown, back in the 1990s, some of the stuff that happened included the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopping disease surveillance, the National Institutes of Health stopped accepting new patients into clinical research, 368 units of the National Park Service closed to the public as did national museums like the Smithsonian, passport and visa applications stopped being processed, and various nonemergency services to veterans ceased.

Whether or not the shutdown will actually happen is still debatable, of course, but given the current atmosphere in DC, I'm happy I have hobbies to keep me busy if I get an unexpected unpaid vacation.


  1. You have a strange and interesting governmental system, based on a strange and interesting constitution. I am completely amazed that America has lasted as long as it has. Perhaps the wealthy see the writing on the wall and are making one last effort to strip everything of value before the collapse. Or perhaps the stripping itself will cause the collapse. Paul Kennedy pretty much picked this decade for American Imperial Overstretch to come home to roost. You live in interesting times.

  2. People just don't get that the ones harmed by these furloughs are the people themselves (not tomention the families of those who suddenly have reduced pay.)

    My husbands clients wait months and now years for government agencies to do their jobs because the staff has been so stripped down there are not enough people left to meet the needs pof the people who are being discriminated against, etc.

    He went to an EEOC meeting this week and they admitted that the only cases they are putting any time and effort behind are those of immigrants and other disenfranchised people. If you are white and middle class, don't expect the government to pay any attention to your claim.

  3. This may be my first furlough--I was just a seasonal back in the Clinton-era furloughs. I don't mind the reality of it, since I can find something to do for a few weeks, and we could probably limp along financially even if I don't get reimbursed for the lost wages. But I greatly mind it in principle: it will save no money and will put everyone even farther behind in their work and cause terrible problems.

    Stupid-ass grandstanding politicians... As The Blog Fodder said, we live in interesting times.

  4. The Blog Fodder makes an interesting point.

    Anyway, as I understand it, a shut down won't stop my SS checks from coming so I'm good go go, everything else is just interesting shit happening.

  5. It is interesting that you mention GPS. GPS was originally intended exclusively for government use, until Ronald Reagan ordered that it be made available for use by everyone. Bill Clinton did a good thing too, when he ordered the selective availability function turned off.
    I somewhat disagree with Blog Fodder in that it is not the wealthy per se, but those who are wealthy through political power who are stripping everything of value. Some people are wealthy because of the profit of their productivity, while others are wealthy through use of political power. No one political party has a monopoly on that, either. It's just human nature.


My space, my rules: play nice and keep it on topic.