• Ben Henschel

To the people, Is the shutdown worth the loss?

Updated: Jan 11

To get to the point, it isn't.

There are certain things you can use politically to get things done. But paychecks at the expense of hundreds of millions of Americans? Not one of them.

That should be enough right there — you shouldn't take actions that harm or interfere with citizens who have nothing to do with your problem. I've spoken with several government officials, their children, and representatives at the federal level representing Kansas over the past few days.

"I sit there wondering, why me? Why us? We have nothing to do with his campaign promises," one government employee told me. "I just want to get back to work."

For a moment, let's put aside whether or not we need a wall. Whether you believe the $5.7 Billion is better spent on technology or boots on the ground to guard the border, or a physical barrier instead, bare with me. Let's question something more important — the way we're building the foundations of a compromise.

It's hard to imagine this happening in the form of a compromise, both sides being as polarized as they are. Pelosi won't budge on her "wall is immoral" views, and Trump surely won't budge on one of his most central (and lie-ridden) campaign promises. But a compromise, aside from Trump using executive privilege to call a national emergency, seems to be the only way this ends.

Compromises are built on negotiations, and sure, both sides are negotiating. But they're holding the rest of the country hostage in the meantime, specifically, but not exclusively, government workers.

One of the most prominent problems I've heard from sources over the past few days comes in the form of contractors. For example, IT (pronounced eye-tee) workers.

Let's say you employ five or six IT guys in your midwest branch government office. Let's say there's a government shutdown, and every government employee has to go home — they can't even come back to work to grab a calendar, or phone charger, or wallet they may have left behind at the office. Let's say the shutdown drags on, longer than any previous shutdown in U.S. history.

Legislation has been passed assuring the government employees their paychecks once the shutdown ends — whether they're wealthy enough to stick it out until that day comes, or not. But what happens to the IT guys?

They don't get that assured paycheck. Instead, like several that I've heard about here in Kansas City, they'll be forced to leave their jobs, however long they've held them. They'll head into a job market filled with candidates — shoulder-to-shoulder, almost impossible to find one.

The White House, in junction with Congress, is holding all of these people hostage. The border situation must be resolved soon, to be certain. But we shouldn't stall nearly 800,000 government paychecks until a deal is made, and we shouldn't hold the often overlooked paychecks of independent contractors (perhaps even a larger number than government employees themselves), either.

Nancy Pelosi claims the wall is "immoral," and she may be right. But that's an argument that should be made with the government open, not closed. In any plan ensuring the safety and security of the U.S. and its citizens, square one should be paying them what they deserve. Any decisions about the border, or any budget decision for that matter, should and must come well after that.

It's important to remember how this all started. Check out this discussion in the White House between President Trump, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.