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Editorial: How essential is government?

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Posted on October 3, 2013 |
By Angelo S. Lynn



Ever think the federal government shutdown won’t matter to you, your neighbors or the state? Consider some of the statewide effects:

• About 4,200 federal employees work in Vermont; of those it’s estimated about 1,000 are subject to furlough — meaning they are laid off without pay.

• Of the 1,000 National Guard members in Vermont, about 450 are now on furlough.

• Of the existing programs that rely on federal money and would be subject to closure if the shutdown were to be prolonged, some of the more critical are: Head Start, Reach UP, 3SQUARESVT (food stamps), WIC (which supports low-income pregnant women, mothers and their children) and LIHEAP (which provides fuel assistance to Vermonters in need). That’s just the basics: food, shelter, childhood education, fuel for those who can’t afford to heat their homes.

• The temporary closures of the national parks don’t effect too many Vermonters, unless you happen to live near Woodstock where the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park is now closed during the height of fall foliage, eliminating a popular tourist attraction in that area. Nationwide, there were 9 million visitors that were turned away in the last government shutdown at a significant loss of revenue, while costs will be the same if government pay is retroactive — which it has been following the previous 17 shutdowns.

Think of that for a moment: More than 800,000 federal government employees who were deemed “unessential” are furloughed and are at home waiting for common sense to prevail. When that time comes, it is likely all the House Republicans who have forced the shutdown will vote to reinstate back pay. What’s the upshot? Disruption of government work, loss of revenue from government services, government workers get a few days off but will be hard-pressed to make up that lost time when they are reinstated, and taxpayers will make up for the back pay during which no work was done.

All so the GOP could protest the health care law.

But here’s the real irony: House Representatives (and Senators) are not subject to furlough, meaning they deem themselves “essential.” LOL.

Angelo S. Lynn

Note: LOL, for the uninitiated, is short for “laugh out loud” when texting.

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