(The following column is being translated into 162 known languages and engraved on a platinum disc. The disc will be fired from Wallops Island, Va., into outer space. Scientists hope that some day, another intelligent life form will capture the disc, translate the column and learn how things worked on Earth. How the most powerful nation in the history of the planet, at what may be the zenith of its influence, conducted itself during the Great Shutdown of 2013).
Okay, so let’s go over this one more time for a caring, but confused, outsider. The outsider would be me — and the rest of the civilized world too.
Last week you were told to clean out your stuff. To get out and stay out. Who needs you? Correct?
Then, over the weekend, the person(s) who kicked you out, who said you were not needed and not wanted, suddenly declared that you are much loved and invaluable. Get your precious self back here Monday, honey. Oh, and the time you took off (under orders) last week. Fuhgeddaboudit! You will be paid for it. Paid for not working the same as your more-valuable colleagues who didn’t get time off last week.
Forget the need for any silly loans. Tear up that application for state unemployment benefits. There will always be a place for you. You are appreciated. And loved.
Until next time.
Before you send an angry complaint about invasion of privacy, be advised we are not talking about your marriage. Or relationship with your significant other. What you two got up to next week is unknown to us.
Any resemblance to the above scenario and your marriage or significant relationship is purely coincidental. We are talking about the on-going sort-of shutdown. It is currently much less ongoing than this time last week. And it appears to be fading fast.
Last week, roughly 800,000 civilian federal workers were ordered to come to work so they could, once at work, quickly turn around and go home. As an exercise in morale it was unique: Tens of thousands were told they were needed and to hang around. An almost equal number were told their services are no longer necessary (in fact, were they ever?) and to go home. The people who were told to keep working were told they might not get paid. The people who weren’t working got the distinct impression (since saving money was one of the goals) that they would not get retroactive pay if they didn’t — couldn’t — work.
Having shot themselves in the foot, and probably every other known orifice, politicians of both political parties have learned (again) that shutdowns never turn out the way you planned. They wind up costing money, wasting time and potentially putting the nation in danger.
The House, led by a bipartisan coalition from the Washington area, voted to pay everybody. Defense suddenly decided that most of its 400,000 people are essential. Other agencies will likely make the same discovery. Meantime, jerked-about feds are trying to figure out what happened. And why. Example:
“Defense has literally deemed all of their civilian employees ‘excepted’ (well at least at Andrews AFB). How is this possible? Why are we all — all of a sudden — so important when a week ago we were not? I know almost 100 percent of colleagues do not fall into the two ‘categories’ referenced in the Military Pay Act, so why are we here?
“Is DoD thinking … since they will be getting retro pay … might as well bring them all in and get our money’s worth. If this is he case, then why isn’t the entire federal government doing this?
“I am not sure how agencies determine these things (way above my pay grade), but I am curious how some agencies can shut their doors and ride this out and some seem ‘oh so important’ to bring back everyone before this is over?
“Yea … I’m irritated that other federal workers get a vacation and I don’t … So what! Seems like a fair swap for no pay raise over the past several years and the furlough (no pay) days I had to take this year!!
“One final question … Will we be ‘excepted’ in a week when we go through this crap again? Somehow I doubt it.” Irritated at Andrews.
Shutdown effects continue to ripple through agencies Congress’ failure to agree on a short-term funding measure last week immediately thew agencies into shutdown mode, shuttering offices and sending hundreds of thousands of federal employees home without pay. But as the shutdown stretches into its second week with no end in sight, a round of second-order effects is beginning to ripple throughout government.
Contractors’ fate uncertain even as DoD civilians return from furloughs Many Defense Department civilian workers are heading back to work today after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Saturday he would recall most of the Pentagon’s 400,000 civilian employees from shutdown-imposed furloughs. But that announcement, coming nearly a week into the government shutdown, has implications not only for civilian workers but also contractors