Maybe by the time these thoughts are in print, Congress will pass and President Trump will sign an agreement that will reopen our government and put an end to the adolescent schoolyard shenanigans in our nation’s capital.
Being without a paycheck comes with more problems than just missing a payday or two.
The rent is due and the landlord is sympathetic, but he’s got bills to pay, too. He can’t evict you immediately – there’s a legal process that takes time – but that’s about the only bill on which you have some cushion. Repossession is quicker than eviction.
Every night about dinner time, the telephone rings, the credit card rep wanting to know “when can we expect a payment.” It is the first time you have ever been late, but the bank charges you a late fee. The late fee turns out to be more than the payment would have been, which puts the account over-limit, for which the bank adds another fee.
There are groceries to buy, phone and electric to pay. And your child requires a medicine refill you don’t have the money for the copay.
In a nation of 325 million people, 1.4 million in the military – most of whom are being paid – are easy to put out of mind, but the Coast Guard falls under Homeland Security, a part of the government that is closed. Thus folks still at sea protecting our actual borders are among the unpaid, their families sitting home, with no spouse and no money.
TSA officers, who we hope are ensuring our safety as we fly to, say, DisneyWorld, normally are paid roughly $33,000 to $38,00 a year – easily in the payday-to-payday category. Friday will be their second pay without pay.
They, like many government workers, either at work or furloughed, will be receive back pay when they are called back. Not so for the thousands of contract workers who depend on a non-government employer for their paycheck. For them, if the government does not pay its contractors, its contractors do not pay their employees. So far, that’s a one-month pay cut they will never see.
A few years ago, when Pennsylvania suffered a shutdown, South Central Community Action Program was forced to lay off most of its workers. When the state restarted, and SCCAP could rehire its workers, the agency discovered its unemployment insurance premiums had increased significantly. The workers had been eligible for unemployment compensation, and it didn’t matter to the insurers that the agency was not at fault.
This week, a front page story in the Gettysburg Times reported that Survivors Inc., was in financial danger because of the federal shutdown. Money promised to the agency, may not be coming if the government does not reopen.
If all 800,000 or so workers were in one place – say, Adams County – even the Walmart would have to close, But even spread out across the nation, there is a lot of money not being spent because who otherwise would buy stuff and enjoy dinner in restaurants are not being paid. Even Scrooge McDuck, and any capitalist who believes small businesses are the backbone of our nation, should be standing on our leaders’ desks demanding the money be turned back on.
Of all the ways of settling political contests, messing with the paychecks of those who have no say in the discourse is the most dastardly. Increasingly, even Trump supporters are beginning to blame him, and rightfully so. He made a deal, then reneged on it. Like a schoolyard bully, he has taken the bat and ball, and has now offered to return them if the other kids will give him their uniforms.