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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?


ButIStillGetMyPerksI 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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Copyright © 2013

From → Diatribes

  1. I’ve moved beyond angry and settled nicely into furious!


  2. People don’t seem to matter in the machinations. Check out the NY Times article from Oct 5 which says the GOP has been planning this shutdown for over a year. If true, it makes your skin crawl. My awareness of this article is courtesy of


    • I’m inclined to believe the plan has been in the works for much longer than a year. I remember a time when “conservative” wasn’t a bad word and there was such as a thing as “follow the leader”.

      Thanks for pointing us to that article!


  3. *shrug* In all honesty, this is how our lawmakers are. Its like getting furious at pit bulls when they finally snap and kill a child, or getting mad at the sky for being blue, or for water being wet, things just are what they are.

    The saddest part about it is, the ONLY people that can do anything about this glaring problem with the checks and balance system, is the people reaping all the benefits of it…. The sad fact is, no one will remember this when the elections roll back around, and the people that will run on the idea of changing it will not get ANY media attention, just like last time….


    • The responsibility of electing our representatives falls squarely on the shoulders of each of us at the ballot box. Sadly, we all too often end up electing “the lesser of two evils” and we’re seeing the consequences now. Hopefully, a sweeping influx of bright, young ethical minds will soon present themselves.

      Great comment! Thanks!


  4. We are one of those toxic waste sites (leftover radioactive material from the WW2 and the Cold War). So far they are using money saved for a rainy day. When that runs out work will stop and since we are next to the Columbia River we plan to take out Portland, Oregon… (not really, but I like the idea of taking Portland hostage)
    (sorry NSA but you know me already as youngest son played football for the Bombers)


  5. Oh yeah. I’ve been disgusted since before the hostage taking. The Crazies are messing with our democracy. I share your hope for a new bunch of ethical minds to take over. Virginia has an election in 3 weeks — I think that will be a good initial indicator to just how much Americans are upset by this stupidity.


  6. Without alienating every blogging friend I have made in the US, I can’t tell you how angry I am at your government!


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