A couple or three dozen Congresspeople – and the House Speaker – have shut down the federal government because they object to PPACA. And the shutdown may well extend to a refusal to raise the debt ceiling. The economic impact is significant:
- The economy is losing $300 million a day.
- A three-week shutdown will decrease GDP by almost 1%, this in an economy that has struggled to keep growth at 2%.
- 2 million federal workers’ paychecks are delayed; 800,000 may never get paid. They have mortgages, tuition payments, credit card bills to pay.
That’s the economic picture; the effects on individuals are diverse, but the longer this goes on, the more painful it will become.
I’d suggest there’s a longer-term problem, one that will have an unquantifiable but nevertheless profound negative impact on the US; the vilification of federal government employees by politicians and pundits who denigrate those workers and the work they do.
After three years of no raises, continued demonization by strident and powerful talking heads and politicians, after being told they are the problem, the morale of the average government employee has got to be pretty low. These are the people who put out fires, keep airplanes from hitting each other, ensure our food is safe, pay our parent’s Social Security and Medicare bills, lock up bad guys, prevent Iran from funneling money to their nuclear program.
Sure, some are pretty unproductive, but most work hard, are proud of what they do, and do it well.
I can’t see how the ongoing “they are the enemy” meme helps our country. Sure, it makes for great theater, but who would want to take a job where you’re constantly told you are lazy, overpaid, feckless, and a leech?
I may be biased as I have quite a bit of experience with federal workers; my Dad was in the CIA and its predecessor organization for 25 years; my Mom worked for the Agency – and managed fingerprint files for the FBI during WW II. Both were very proud of the work they did, did it very well, and made a difference. My aunt was responsible for all Navy payroll for a decade; and woe to anyone who screwed up any of “her boys'” paychecks. Other family members are in federal law enforcement, and I cannot begin to describe the sacrifice we have paid for that commitment.
It angers and saddens me to see and hear the derisive, uninformed, and flat out wrong comments by the Bachmans and Issas of the world. But more importantly, it shows that they really don’t understand, or perhaps don’t care, that their grand-standing will do lasting, and real damage to our country.
If we can’t attract hard-working, intelligent, competent people to work in public service, we’re screwed.
And we have no one to blame but ourselves.