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Diatribe: Are Your Representatives At The Gym While You Try To Figure Out How You’re Going To Feed Your Kids?
I was laid off once. It was the most stressful time of my life. After twelve years with the same company I had worked my way into a comfortable position at a reasonably young age. I enjoyed my job and honestly thought that I could see myself doing the work until retirement. It was challenging and exciting and it involved an assortment of interesting people from across the globe. I had grown accustomed to my salary and budgeted accordingly. Unfortunately, as the company become increasingly successful it was bought by a larger firm and my position was eliminated. I received a healthy severance package but my future was uncertain.
For most Americans who work for the government, and many who don’t, the last ten days have been equally exhausting … if not more so. At least I knew when my situation would end. The partial government shutdown has furloughed federal workers wondering how they’re going to pay their bills. Businesses that rely on tourists are also growing nervous because the national parks are closed. Even scientists conducting important research have had to stop their experiments! The partial government shutdown is impacting millions of Americans.
But their leaders? … Not so much.
Many, certainly not all, members of Congress are still going to their exclusive gym, protecting their staffs and enjoying other perks. I find it disgusting to learn what has arbitrarily been declared “essential” and “nonessential” during the shutdown. Here are a few examples:
ESSENTIAL: The gym for member of the House of Representatives. The House gym that is reserved exclusively for lawmakers remains open during the shutdown including a swimming pool, basketball courts, a sauna and steam room. Yes, during the shutdown there is no towel service available but taxpayers are still paying for maintenance and cleaning.
“This job is very stressful and if you don’t have a place to vent, you are going to go crazy and that’s why I’ve used it all these years.” – Rep Don Young (R-Alaska).
NONESSENTIAL: Clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health. Normally, about 200 people go to NHI hoping to receive new treatment in clinical trials each week but, with more than three quarters of its staff furloughed, the agency is not accepting new patients until the government reopens.
ESSENTIAL: Every single member of Rep. Steve King’s (R-Iowa) staff.
NONESSENTIAL: Nobel-Prizewinning physicist David Wineland with the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
ESSENTIAL: The Capital subway system. The trains remain staffed and functioning during the shutdown to shuttle lawmakers between the U.S. Capital and the House and Senate office buildings … a ride that takes about thirty seconds … so they don’t have to walk.
NONESSENTIAL: The cleaning up five hundred five toxic waste sites in forty-seven states because ninety-four percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s employees have been furloughed.
ESSENTIAL: Every single member of Congress has been deemed essential. They’re all getting paid while the government is shut down.
NONESSENTIAL: The citizens of the United States of America?
Are you angry yet?
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