It’s obvious to anyone who thinks before talking (or tweeting) that the government shutdown harms everyone, not just Democrats. But when pants are on fire, we need more than what’s obvious – we all need to be able to stand up and tell the truth. No, the people who long for this administration to fulfill prophecies of the end of the world won’t care, but there are millions of people who do. And so we offer this short collection of info about how the government shutdown is harming real people and the real world:
Who’s not getting paid?
- When people think of federal employees, they may think of elected officials or high-paid white collar jobs. But federal workers as a whole make just slightly over the national average and include workers like food preparers, who make under $12/hour. These aren’t people who can afford to go without their paychecks.
- From a National Park Service employee: “Our HR folks managed to get our Dec. 31 payroll in but who knows what’s next. It’s the lower graded employees who REALLY suffer. Some are seeking out temp jobs to fill the gap!”
- A federal court employee reports that court employees have not been guaranteed that they’ll get paid for work beyond January 11, although they will be required to report to work as usual with or without pay. “I know several coworkers off the top of my head that can’t live without a paycheck. What are they supposed to do? I read today that some federal employees are applying for unemployment and can receive up to $450 a week but will have to return the funds once they get paid from the government. This shutdown has us scared and sick, not knowing the impact it will have on us personally and as a nation.”
- Another federal worker: “I was planning to retire later this year but I can’t even get the paperwork going on that during the shutdown.”
- The shutdown affects people who aren’t federal workers, too. The office that handles food stamps is staffed by federal workers, and although food stamps are essential to the people who get them, these workers aren’t considered “essential” – meaning that they aren’t coming to work and people aren’t getting the aid they need in order to eat.
- Money and aid get held up in all kinds of ways: first-year students at a PA medical school received an e-mail saying they would get their student loan money for the upcoming term, but the funds were already late by the time the email arrived. For many people, getting money late can have serious repercussions.
- See more personal stories here.
Health and Safety
- According to PBS: “Due to the shutdown, Indian Health Services suspended most of the funding for the Tribes and Urban Indian Health Programs, which cover the bulk of primary care for Native Americans living in urban areas,” although critical medical care supposedly won’t be affected.
- Air traffic controllers are federal employees. They aren’t allowed to strike – but there aren’t enough of them, and the shutdown has closed their training facility.
- National Parks are basically semi-closed. The bathrooms are completely closed. People are driving off-road, doing what bears do in the woods, and more.
- A park service employee reports “loss of control over schedules. … we are working on a tight timeline that is tied to many other events in the park with locked in dates. And of course, with skeleton staffs, there are serious negative impacts to delicate natural and cultural (not to mention HUMAN) resources that are being put at unnecessary risk.”
- Wildfire prevention on federal lands – yes, the kind of thing needed to avoid huge loss of property and resources and life, especially in states like California and Nevada which are at least half federal land – has come to a halt. Of course, this is a health and safety issue as well.
- The Environmental Protection Agency is running on skeleton staffing and little to no funding as a result of the shutdown. (Let’s not even go into how that fits into this administration’s view of that agency …)
What you can do:
Call Our Senators: The House of Representatives has a bill to reopen the government without money for the Wall; we want the Senate to refuse to advance any legislation except that bill. And just before Trump gave his speech and Stormy Daniels folded her laundry on January 8, our Senators did just that. Please call Sen. Feinstein at 202-224-3841, and Sen. Harris at 202-224-3553 to say thanks, and tell them:
My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Senator Feinstein/Harris for voting against advancing legislation that wouldn’t have reopened the government without funding for the Wall. Please keep it up: vote NO on everything that isn’t the House bill to reopen the government without money for the Wall.
Help those in need: In times of trouble, people always need food. Donate or volunteer at these worthy organizations:
- Alameda County Community Food Bank, https://www.accfb.org/
- Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, https://www.foodbankccs.org/
- Second Harvest Food Bank, https://www.shfb.org/
- Catholic Charities of the East Bay, http://www.cceb.org/, does eviction prevention and provides other emergency financial assistance
- Operation Dignity, https://operationdignity.org/, focuses specifically on housing needs
Photograph “Open Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry” by Alan Levine