Opinion

The Lowdown with the Government Shutdown

16,740,493,583,418.19: A colossal number separated by a bunch of commas and one period, a disgusting perplexity that grows exponentially each day while the majority of those who should pay attention to it barely bat an eyelash, and an estimate that can only create real mortification when accompanied with the mighty, mighty dollar sign.

The daunting tick of the National Debt Clock permeates the air in Washington like a distant hum gone unnoticed. That ticking time bomb of a number grows at an estimated $1.84 billion per day while the elephant and the donkey duel in an argument that is remarkably similar to a sandbox dilemma between toddlers.

As party politics continue to bring Washington well on its way to an untimely grave, the U.S. government officially shut down earlier this month, leaving hundreds of thousands of Americans struggling to make ends meet and even more questioning the validity of their government and those who run it.

While Congress plays the blame game, Americans lose. As former President Harry S. Truman put it so eloquently, "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." What if for once, our elected officials and so-called "representatives" actually represented us, the American public?

What if for once, they considered the "We the people" our forefathers intended to serve? Instead, Democrats and Republicans alike are more concerned with who's who in politics than the issues at hand.

At its moment of supreme dysfunction, an ultimate inability to play nice in order to come to an agreement which would benefit all Americans, regardless of party affiliations, has left countless "nonessential" government workers with holes in their wallets for what could be days, weeks, or even months and a national debt that is never-ending.

Throughout the country, closed signs will cover once open doors and neon open signs will flicker and die out as government offices, national parks, famous monuments and essential agencies turn off their lights and close their doors.

As unpaid workers pack their bags to go home and figure out how to pay their bills, Congress is protected from the same harsh realities. It figures that it just so happens to be engraved into our Constitution that Congress can never adjust their own congressional pay.

So, while thousands of Americans now lack the services provided by our national institutions and those working to ensure the functionality of our Union go unpaid because of Congress's lack of sincere communication and ability to negotiate, Congress is still rolling in the dough.

According to an article from the Financial Post, more than 800,000 government employees were put on unpaid leave due to the shutdown, including those from the Commerce Department, Department of Education, the Federal Housing Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Centers for Disease Control, the Environmental Protection Agency, the IRS, and NASA.

At what point do we decide that the fundamental services provided by our nation's government are no longer important? Unleash a pandemic that is catastrophically larger than the status quos in Washington and alert the IRS: I guess I'm not filing any taxes this year.

CNN reports that this shutdown is estimated to cost the U.S. economy $1 billion per week and the White House estimates that a week-long shutdown could cost the U.S. economy as much as $10 billion.

Instead of adding to the astronomically climbing national debt, can't the grown-ups in the room actually work together to unite a divided government by compromising for the common good?

Congress: Stop playing the blame game and get back to work for the hundreds of thousands of Americans that you claim to represent.