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