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home : insight & opinion : letters to the editor June 28, 2016

10/4/2013 2:40:00 PM
Is shutdown a lesson on the need for government?


There are several articles in the recent Daily News about government shutdowns and the borderline hysteria involved.  The last time the government shutdown was about 17 years ago and the differences in this shutdown are significant.  The most significant difference is that people are much more aware of what a "shutdown" really involves.  Is it really a shutdown or a slowdown??

Last time the media made it sound as if the world would come to an end if a deal wasn't reached to avoid this catastrophic event.  This time there seems to be much more of a "who'll notice" view.  This to me is the impact of the many changes in news distribution over the last 17 years.  Waaay back then - there was no web putting out info updates, no Twitter to let people know of real issues and no Fox News to give a different view from the mainstream media.

Specific problems that were thought to be calamities then were that civil servants were thought to have lost 21 days of pay when they actually got back pay -  which equated to 21 days of paid leave.  People thought that the entire government was shut down when only "non-essential" personnel had to come to work - and these essential personnel didn't benefit from the paid time off which made them really unhappy.  People thought the military would not get paid and the first thing that happened was that Congress passed a resolution to avoid this problem.

The news is now reporting that only 6.6 percent of the EPA is essential and around 3 percent of the IRS.  This information was not known then and is now common knowledge to those willing to look at all the new and not the slanted versions that are sometimes presented to sway votes in the next elections.

Whether or not know folks are for or against the shutdown and the upcoming fights over raising the debt ceiling it's easy to see that the more information available to the American public the less fear is instilled by these political fights.  I suspect after all the hype and battles for news ratings is over most folks will not notice any impact to their daily lives.  The only question most folks may ask themselves is why we can shut down so many government agencies and no one notices.  This may prove to be one of the greater knowledge's which come from a shutdown- do we really need all this government in our lives.


Phil Montgomery


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