Secret Agenda Behind Government Shutdown

Is it possible that President Trump is prolonging the partial government shutdown to reduce the size of the government workforce? That’s been a Republican goal for decades: Starve The Beast.

I am not the type to entertain conspiracy theories.

At least I never was before. But with the shutdown more than a month old, and 800,000 government workers unpaid, people are getting desperate. And angry. One attempted suicide has been reported. How much longer can unpaid workers hang on? How many paychecks can workers miss before they turn away in desperation to other jobs?

Sorry, but after 70 years, I’m cynical enough (or maybe I’m old and dotty) to wonder if there’s a secret motivation behind this shutdown. Trump thinks federal workers are part of the “Deep State.” Trump wants to “drain the swamp.”

But let’s be fair. Maybe Nancy Pelosi has motives, too. Her motives are not so secret. Pelosi is intractable. No negotiations for her. Does she care about government workers? Or is she motivated by the glory of a Democratic victory in 2020? Talk about cynical.

Between Trump and Pelosi, “political ethics” is an oxymoron.

Is the Administration ready to fire workers who fail to show up? How many “essential” workers are calling in sick because they have no money for gas, or lunch, or daycare for the children? The most often cited problem is gasoline. Do you know anyone who walks to work? People commute to work. They drive or take the train. Many workers drive SUVs or pickup trucks that guzzle gas. Some have long commutes, 80 to 100 miles is not common, but neither is it unheard of.

Gasoline to drive round trip to and from work for a week adds up, unless you drive a Prius. What happens when a worker can’t pay for gas?

What happens when the time comes to choose between gas and food? 

If federal prison guards call in sick, guards on duty are held over at the end of their shift. Work without a paycheck? How about work a double shift without a paycheck! Under dangerous conditions.

Some federal prisons are reportedly providing cots for sleeping so guards don’t have to drive back and forth. Solves the gas problem. Work without pay, remain on site 24 hours a day.  Might as well work an extra shift. With guards transformed into virtual prisoners, who takes care of the children at home? Some federal workers are single parents.

Are children alone at night, with no one to feed them or keep them safe? It is possible. Somewhere in this great big country, a child is alone and hungry because a parent is at work and unpaid.

Similar problems must be developing for FBI agents, and yes, Border Patrol agents. And air traffic controllers and airport security personnel. Dangerous prisons, dangerous airports. No gas, no food, no money, no one to care for the children. How long can a worker stand it before he gives up? Or blows up?

It sounds like hysterical speculation. I’m embarrassed to write it. And yet . . .

Most Federal workers are well qualified for something. What about Border Patrol agents? Aren’t they be qualified to be police officers? And maybe get paid more than their present jobs. Certainly get paid more regularly. An FBI agent could make big bucks managing security for a corporation. Coast Guard members? No, they’re military, they are the only ones who can’t just up and quit and go drive for Uber.

So I ask the crazy questions:

How many workers will be in nervous breakdown when the shutdown ends? How many workers will be gone when the shutdown ends?

How many will take other jobs and not look back? How many will be fired? Will Donald Trump celebrate?

It’s preposterous. It can’t be true.

— John Hayden

6 thoughts on “Secret Agenda Behind Government Shutdown

  1. Sorry,John, but people do not trust the media for a reason and one of those reasons is exemplified here. You wrote approx. 600 words on the hardships of not having a paycheck without once mentioning something that almost every American uses almost every day.

    Credit cards.

    If I were a federal employee, I would do the same thing I did as a state employee during both a government shutdown and a government union strike. In fact, I would do as I am doing now, buy my gas with a VISA card and purchase food and others essentials with the same card.

    Why don’t you mention that?

    Is it that you are falling for THE NARRATIVE? Something that consumers of the news can spot instantly and loath with every fiber of their bones.

    Now granted, there may be people who are maxed out on their credit cards, or do not have them. Kudos to those who do not owe their lives to VISA but they are atypical.

    Why can’t the media cover the hardships and inconveniences of strikes and shutdowns as they really exist without caterwauling about the outliers?

    When the State of Minnesota was on strike and shutdown, I didn’t like it. It was worrying – but honest to God, it was no where near what the media is trying to make us believe.

    A pox on both the houses on Pelosi and Trump, but lets not turn the story into yet another case of why people flick the channel to the Home Shopping Network during the news.


    • Thanks for the comment, you mentioned two things I had wanted to hit, but my posts always get too long. I agree on the media, but disagree on credit cards.

      I’m afraid the modern media has become more of a hindrance than a help in recent years. It’s two parts, mainstream media, and social media like Twitter. I think both parts of the media share the blame with politicians for many of our political and governmental dysfunctions, and for the shutdown in particular.

      I’ll focus only on the mainstream media, that is, cable news and daily newspapers. The newspaper industry has mostly collapsed. A daily newspaper is not a factor in the lives of most people. They get their news from cable TV and social media. But I think the few big-city newspapers left do set a tone. The government shutdown fell off the front pages after the first week, except for the New York Times and the Washington Post.

      Cable news is able to focus on only one thing at a time. It focused on the shutdown for a while, and returns to it periodically. But MSNBC and CNN in recent weeks have turned their attention back to the investigations and allegations against the president, especially the Russia allegations.

      The media and the public have short attention spans. And they don’t comprehend the real seriousness and danger of the shutdown situation.

      You think I am “falling for the narrative.” You may have a point. In journalism, we called it the herd mentality. When a big story breaks, reporters stampede to cover it, all hoping to break the next big development. There has been a great deal of focus on the financial hardships of government workers who aren’t receiving a paycheck. The example of paying for gasoline has been seized on, and I’ll admit I used it too. It does make a good example.

      I will not apologize for focusing on the hardships faced by government workers, whether they are sitting at home without pay, or forced to work without pay. You cannot overstate the seriousness of a government failing to pay its workers. I think the Roman empire fell in part because it could no longer pay its soldiers.

      I believe the economic divide in our country is such that we have the wealthy and people who are meerly Securely Affluent at the TOP. The wealthy and the affluent do not live paycheck-to-paycheck. They are protected from short- and even medium-term financial worries. The most well-off are financially secure for the long-term, for life. No matter what happens, they can never fall out the upper class.

      Long story short, the secure people at the Top can no longer comprehend day-to-day life, and the constant insecurity, of the Average American Worker. Ironically, it’s as if a WALL separates the TOP part of society from the WORKERS, and below them, the seriously poor.

      This incomprehension was highlighted by the secretary of commerce, a man of almost unimaginable wealth, criticizing unpaid federal workers, and suggesting that they can easily borrow all the money they need to live on. Another administration official claimed that unpaid workers are happy volunteers. And of course, Donald Trump has been wealthy from the day he was born. People at this high level of wealth simply can’t comprehend the life of a worker.

      Bonnie, in her comment below, concisely summarized the CREDIT CARD fallacy. I will speak to that in a response to her comment, but I won’t have time until later tonight.

      You mentioned the situation of striking union workers, and I’ll try to add a brief comment about that later tonight.

      Thanks to everyone who has the patience to read my endless rambling.


  2. Here is a great positive story about the shutdown

    Assistance to Members Impacted by the Federal Government Shutdown

    Pinnacle Federal Credit Union is here to help members who are experiencing hardship as a result of the federal government shutdown. If you are currently impacted, you can skip up to 2 months of your Pinnacle FCU loan payments (per loan). There is no charge to skip your payment.

    A quick Google search reveals pages of credit unions, banks and other financial institutions offering various forms of assistance.


    • Absolutely right. I think most creditors are willing to grant forbearance to government workers without a paycheck. They are confident the workers will eventually get all their back pay and be able to catch up. But I don’t know how readily financial institutions will lend additional money to those workers. And I don’t know if credit card companies will raise credit limits. For people with excellent credit ratings, maybe. Average credit ratings? Poor credit ratings, unlikely.

      In addition, many charities and community groups have stepped up to help government workers.It’s heartwarming, it really is. But I don’t know what the limits of private charity are. Food banks can run out of food.

      As I write this Friday evening, Trump has agreed to reopen the government through February 15. I suspect he realized that most government workers had reached or passed the limits of their credit and the availability of charity.


  3. Credit cards are not viable. You have to pay them each month or there are additional fees. Then they get shut down. I have tried to do it when my husband died and had to claim bankruptcy. Child care is a problem, not everyone has a relative to help out and child care turns you away when you don’t pay. These options work for short turns, but not over a month.

    Pelosi tried to get it to stop, house passed bills to do so but can’t get it past the Senate. Trump won’t settle for less than a wall. Tunnels make it useless, and no one knows how many or where they are. The Russians claim the Berlin wall was to separate countries, Russian occupied and other.
    If the Russians wanted to cause unrest in our country, they found out how. Just put a good buddy in office.


    • Bonnie, you nailed it on credit cards. Some people routinely use cards for all their purchases, then pay the balance in full each month. That is fine.

      But we’re talking about people using credit cards because they have no money coming in. They won’t have money to pay the bill at the end of the month, either.

      To Almost Iowa: We are a materialistic, consumption-based society. Sad but true, most of us do not have the habit of frugality. Some people probably do have enough headroom on their credit cards to live for a couple of months.

      But not most people. Most people are already carrying balances on their cards, and paying the monthly minimums. I’ve been there myself. Far too many Americans have four or five cards or more, all maxed to the credit limit. They use a significant portion of their monthly income to pay the credit card minimums.They are trapped; they will never get out of debt.

      Using credit cards and paying the balance every month is fine. Carrying a heavy balance of debt is trouble. And every financial expert will tell you that when a person who already carries a balance from month to month starts purchasing necessities, like groceries, on their credit card because they have no money coming in, the warning light is flashing bright red! They are headed for financial disaster, and soon.

      Sure, most federal workers probably can get by with the credit card for a week, maybe two. After that, it gets dicey fast. The fact that Trump has agreed to reopen the government through February 15 says one thing. I doubt he understands it himself, but his advisers most likely were telling him that government workers without their paychecks had hit the limits of their endurance. To push the workers farther into desperation and debt would have been dangerous in the extreme. We will see what happens next.


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