Monday, October 21, 2013

The Fierce Urgency Of Now

I foolishly believed that a government shutdown would never materialize.  Yes, I was naive.

I know many believe that the partial government shutdown proved that federal workers can disappear without being missed.  I would have to agree with you.  None of the furloughed workers in my agency were missed.  They were genuinely non-essential.

Now, we are learning that some federal workers applied for, and received, jobless benefits while they were furloughed.  Some of them will likely get paid twice for not working.  According to the Labor Department, several states are expected to allow these workers to keep both their jobless benefits and the back pay.  Must be nice.

Unlike those furloughed federal workers, I am considered “key and essential personnel and a first responder” and I was ordered to report for duty each and every day of the shutdown without being paid.

I am furious that the furloughed workers will receive back pay for what amounts to a paid vacation.  They didn’t work one day, one hour, one minute, one second during the shutdown.  I think it is an outrage.

For sixteen days, my bills continued to come in my mailbox with the expectation that they be paid in full and on time.

I have spent the last few years of my life working feverishly to become debt-free in preparation for my “golden years”.  With only nine months left before I can retire, my home is paid off and my car is eleven years old.

I pay for everything with cash, check or debit card. 

On October 9th, a memorandum for distribution from the Chief Human Capital Officer was issued.
“On October 1, 2013, many federal agencies were partially shut down due to a lapse of appropriations.  As a result, many Department of _________________ employees were subject to furlough, which places them in a non-pay status until Congress passes an appropriation.  In addition, even these employees who are reporting to work to perform excepted functions will not receive pay until an appropriation is passed by Congress.” 
“Because these employees will not receive pay during the lapse in appropriations, some of our employees may have difficulty in timely meeting their financial obligations.  This lapse in appropriation is expected to be a temporary situation and one that is beyond our employees’ control.  We appreciate your organization’s understanding toward _________________ employees until this situation is resolved.” 
“Our employees will be returned to pay status as soon as possible,  We hope this letter helps explain the furlough process for our _________________ employees, and we extend our thanks for your patience and compassion towards our employees during this time when they may be negatively impacted by the lapse in appropriation.”
Seriously?  How many creditors do you think would respond compassionately to a bullshit letter like this? 

I didn’t apply for jobless benefits, I didn’t ask my friends to lend me money and I didn’t apply for a loan to sustain me during the shutdown.

Last Monday, on my day off, I decided to sell some of my silver coins and old gold jewelry in order to pay for the replacement of the evaporation leak detection pump that was causing an idiot light to remain illuminated on the dashboard.  That light would prevent my car from passing its safety inspection which is required in my state.

This year, my state requires that your vehicle property tax be paid simultaneously with your vehicle registration renewal—none of which can happen without passing the safety inspection first.

The week before, I was driving home from work when my power steering gave out.  Over the course of the last two weeks I’ve spent a little more that $600 to keep my car running so I can get back and forth to work.

I was planning on selling some of my cherished baseball memorabilia today had the shutdown continued.  I’ll hold those things in reserve if, on January 15, 2014, the spittle-laced barbs of the children of The Beltway return to their sickening antics.

Randy-g recently posted a comment saying he hoped “all is well…You are missed.”  I guess Randy noticed that it’s been two weeks since I last posted something and wanted me to know that he was a teeny bit concerned.

I’ve eaten more than my fill of bologna sammiches and PB&Js.  I’m sick of drinking just plain water.  I’ve cut corners in every way I know how.  I’m going to make it, but honestly, this has taken a toll on me.

I haven’t slept well because of the worry.  When I have slept, I’ve had nightmares.  All in all, I’m pretty lucky because the Good Lord provided a way for me to make it through all this.  I am thankful and humbled by His blessings.

One final thought…I despise this Congress whose indifference to how I and others may have suffered through their stupidity and whose only thought is to orate in sound bites suitable for consumption on television and I despise the mainstream media which ignores the decay of a free society.

I am reminded of the sagacious words of Cicero, one of Rome’s greatest orators:
A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.” 
“For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men.” 
“He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. A traitor is the plague.”

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