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Government shutdown: a big deal for unpaid workers

Sancho Panza
Illustration by G.A. Harker

“Destiny guides our fortunes more favorably than we could have expected. Look there, Sancho Panza, my friend, and see those thirty or so wild giants, with whom I intend to do battle and kill each and all of them, so with their stolen booty we can begin to enrich ourselves. This is nobel, righteous warfare, for it is wonderfully useful to God to have such an evil race wiped from the face of the earth.”

“What giants?” Asked Sancho Panza.

“The ones you can see over there,” answered his master, “with the huge arms, some of which are very nearly two leagues long.”

“Now look, your grace,” said Sancho, “what you see over there aren’t giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn the millstone.”

“Obviously,” replied Don Quixote, “you don’t know much about adventures.” 

                                                ― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote de La Mancha

Government BuildingGovernment shutdown… “no big deal?”

The federal government shutdown is infuriating in and of itself, but there was an item in the news last month that really sent me over the edge. In an interview with CNBC, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross downplayed the impact of the government shutdown on workers and said the resulting lack of pay shouldn’t be “a big deal.” He asserted that banks and credit unions should be making loans to these workers and yes, they (the unpaid federal employees) may have to “pay a little interest.” But essentially, stating that their unpaid wages were a “guaranteed federal loan.” Mr. Ross has a reported net worth of approximately $700,000,000.

How the shutdown affects the average American

Counting Change

Perhaps the head of the Commerce Department does not know how most people in America live and the daily struggles they face. I know lots of people that would be in dire straits if they were faced with going without a paycheck for more than a month. When I was in my 20s, it was a rare bird among my peers that didn’t live on the edge of financial disaster. I am thinking about writing the Commerce Secretary a letter telling him I think he is an arrogant, out-of-touch twit — but I feel like my anger and my point are lost in the wind before I even set them to ink.

Tilting at Windmills

Another thing that enrages me about the government shutdown: the sanctimonious attitudes the opposing parties wear when they pontificate about the high moral ground they hold — and the vile, putrid stance of the opposition. Don’t these people have anyone that works for them brave and loyal enough to tell them when they look like morons? It surely seems to me that both the President and the leaders of Congress (both parties) are losing the PR battle. I hear all of them sending a clear message that they care more about bickering amongst each other than for the government employee (or anyone else) that depends upon their $50,000 a year paycheck to live. Maybe I should assign myself the task of letting them know when they are off point, you think?

I could rant for ten pages on this, but alas, I’d simply be “tilting at windmills.”

Financial Calculations

How to deal with an unexpected financial crisis

One way for the average American to deal with any financial crisis — like the aforementioned shutdown — is to prepare. Most financial experts agree that the first steps to a sound financial footing is eliminating consumer debt from your life and putting aside an amount of cash savings equal to three to six months of living expenses.

I was able to slay these two giants in my own life years back, and it was well worth the effort. If you haven’t taken on those steps yourself, have Sancho Panza (or a financial advisor!) polish your armor and ready your steed… and into battle you go!


February 2019

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