Shutdown: Hour 34

Today’s Shutdown activities involve over-seeding the yard and repairing the few bald patches. 1 But a couple of notes before we head out:

  • No, Stacy – furloughed government employees are forbidden from doing ANY work at this time: no VPNing into the network is allowed, much less checking e-mail; no checking v-mail; going in to the office is nicht zulässig; asking or demanding that any of the employees you supervise to do any work is a resume producing event. No work of any kind is allowed.
  • Tim – Good catch; if we’re not allowed to communicate with our offices in any fashion, how will we know when we’re recalled back to work? A simple call tree; the official word will be sent to each Department head, who will officially notify each agency head, who will then officially notify each division head, who will…well, you get the idea – someone will call.
  • For Asta Jr, who seems inordinately worried about this: no, most government workers are not getting paid. Or, put another way, most government workers currently are in a non-paid status. That is not to say that we won’t get paid down the road; the last great congressional FUBAR in ’95-’96 ended up with our pay restored for all 3 weeks of that furlough. Most observers expect that to be the case this time as well.
  • ANONYMOUSE – Many Feds are catching up with their Netflix queues; while the anticipation is we will eventually be paid there exists the possibility congress critters will invoke some tortured logic in order to not pay us; Feds have been a popular beast of burden for the economy the last three years, asked to forgo raises, forced to kick in higher health care contributions and at risk for pension slashing by the same congress critters fucking around back east even now. In other words, smart Feds are hoping for the best but planning for the worst.
  • Jim – Yes, the president did send out a direct email to all Feds yesterday. We’ve printed it below:

From: The Office of the Secretary – OSEC
Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2013 7:38:03 AM (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
To: ALL-DoJ
Subject: Message from the President to U.S. Government Employees

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20250
October 1, 2013

To the dedicated and hard-working employees of the United States Government:

The Federal Government is America’s largest employer, with more than 2 million civilian workers and 1.4 million active duty military who serve in all 50 States and around the world.

But Congress has failed to meet its responsibility to pass a budget before the fiscal year that begins today. And that means much of our Government must shut down effective today.

I want you to know that I will keep working to get Congress to reopen the Government, restart vital services that the American people depend on, and allow public servants who have been sent home to return to work. At my direction, your agencies should have reached out to you by now about what a shutdown means for you and your families.

Today, I wanted to take a moment to tell you what you mean to me – and to our country.
That begins by saying thank you for the work you do every day – work that is vitally important to our national security and to American families’ economic security. You defend our country overseas and ensure that our troops receive the benefits they deserve when they come home. You guard our borders and protect our civil rights. You help small businesses expand and gain new footholds in overseas markets. You guide hundreds of thousands of people each day through the glory of America’s national parks and monuments, from Yosemite to the Statue of Liberty. And much more.

You do all this in a political climate that, too often in recent years, has treated you like a punching bag. You have endured three years of a Federal pay freeze, harmful sequester cuts, and now, a shutdown of our Government. And yet, you persevere, continuing to serve the American people with passion, professionalism, and skill.

None of this is fair to you. And should it continue, it will make it more difficult to keep attracting the kind of driven, patriotic, idealistic Americans to public service that our citizens deserve and that our system of self-government demands.

Public service is noble. Public service is important. And by choosing public service, you carry on a proud tradition at the heart of some of this country’s greatest and most lasting achievements. In fact, more than 50 current or former Federal employees have received the Nobel Prize for their efforts. It was grants from the Department of Energy that helped businesses unlock new sources of renewable energy, and from the National Science Foundation that helped entrepreneurs like the founders of Google change the world. It is your efforts that will help this country meet the great challenge of our time – rebuilding an economy where all who work hard can get ahead.

So while the budget fights in Washington are too often partisan, your service to the country must never be. As one of my predecessors, President George H.W. Bush, once said, “There is nothing more fulfilling than to serve your country and your fellow citizens and to do it well. And that is what our system of self-government depends on.”

This shutdown was completely preventable. It should not have happened. And the House of Representatives can end it as soon as it follows the Senate’s lead, and funds your work in the United States Government without trying to attach highly controversial and partisan measures in the process.

Hopefully, we will resolve this quickly. In the meantime, I want you to know – whether you are a young person who just joined public service because you want to make a difference, or a career employee who has dedicated your life to that pursuit – you and your families remain at the front of my mind. Your agency leaders and I will continue to defend your work at a time when that work has rarely been more important. We will continue to work with your agencies to keep you and your families apprised and informed of what is happening. And I will continue to do everything in my power to get the House of Representatives to allow our Government to reopen as quickly as possible, and make sure you receive the pay that you have earned.

Thank you, again, for your service, your sacrifice, and everything you do every day for this country we love so much.

Sincerely,
Barack Obama

Reaction to the president’s missive was, as you might expect, dependent almost entirely upon political affiliations.

  • Asta Jr again: the length of this furlough is unknown. Current speculation is that congress critters plan on sending us back to work by next Monday. There are also rumors that the Scrotum of Tea Baggers who initiated this mess 2 would prefer we stay out through the debt ceiling negotiations in order to place more ‘pressure’ on Democrats and the WHite House. Our bet is somewhere in-between those two timeframes.
  • Doubting Thomas: While the ongoing sequester and the current furlough are two distinct and separate events, DT, they do share some commonalities. While the public at large disapproves of the congress critters’ actions in a general sense, unless John and Jane Public are directly affected they seem content to bitch loudly and go about their business: the across-the-board spending cuts enacted seven months ago that have definitively slowed America’s economic recovery appears theoretical to most: apparently no one is friend to the teachers missing from classrooms or the police not on city streets. Seemingly the grounded Navy aviators and landlocked seamen are also sans comrades; the 500 fewer forest fire-fighters are also bereft friends; and, of course, the nearly 150,000 low-income families not receiving housing assistance are largely ignored by society at large and have not morally earned the right to friends, what with being poor and all. And children? Children have few if any advocates in this country, certainly none in congress: the 57,000 poor kids removed from Head Start’s rolls can just go without both educational and actual sustenance, right? Well, Feds fit right into this paradigm – most Americans believe Feds to be slackers of the worst sort, milking over-paid jobs, parasites upon the tax-paying body of Real Amuricans Who Made It On Their Own. In other words, in both cases America expresses its displeasure, then goes back to watching Dancing With Washed Up B-list Stars.

WNBTv - Good TV!

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Female dog pee, thank you very little.
  2. Let us not forget John “Ball-less” Boehner’s part in the debacle; all he had to do was pass a clean CR in the House to send to the Senate; the fact that he would not for fear of losing his Speakership epitomizes the self-interest that pervades our nation’s capital.

2 Replies to “Shutdown: Hour 34”

    1. You would certainly think so.

      However…at a certain level (GS-13 and above) one must check with the Ethics Office before taking on outside work. This is to ensure no conflict of interest arises between the two positions. Normally this is a good thing for the American public – it means, for example, one would not be able to take a job for one of the Mexican cartels while nominally performing US Sherriffing duties for DoJ.

      However, there is a certain amount of formal paperwork involved and a vetting procedure, neither of which is available during the shutdown.

      And, yes, Congress critters don’t bother with these ethical rules. It’s not that they’re not covered by them: they just don’t bother with them.

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