By Joanna Solloway
Most of United States is now aware of the federal government shutdown. Throughout the country, members of Congress hurl insults and blame each other for the current calamity that affects thousands, if not millions, of Americans. While politicians continue their government standoff, much of the country is suffering. The media has drawn admirable attention to the closed national parks and zoos, not to mention the plight of recipients of federal benefits, including veterans’ benefits and children awaiting cancer treatments. These stories tug on our collective heartstrings. However, we must not lose sight of the hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal civilian workers and the rippling effect that their furloughs may have on the country’s economic stability and tentative recovery. Finally, I would like to touch upon the effect that our current predicaments are having on the country’s morale.
Much of this information is not new to anyone and is common sense. Furloughed workers will be less able to pay their bills or spend discretionary income. This hurts the economy. Closing the sites, zoos, and parks deprives workers of their incomes and directly harms the tourism industry. Mortgage lending has suffered and federal lending to small businesses has all but dried up. Finally, hiring plans that are contingent on getting such federal loans have been put on hold. In essence, we all feel the effects of this shutdown, whether we are trying to find work in the D.C. metropolitan area, vacation with our families, or pay our mortgages.
In these trying times, it is tempting to fall back into the familiar blame game. We emulate our political leaders, spewing unhelpful and all-too-common rhetoric about the opposing political party. For a sad case in point, see this article. All Americans, from the über-liberals to the extreme conservatives, must remember that this blame game is not helping us at all to resolve our current crises. Scare tactics do not lend credibility to either party and only hinder our government’s ability to move forward. If we are to preserve our faith in democracy, some civility would not go amiss.