Friday, April 8, 2011

How a Government Shutdown Affects Us

Hopefully as you know, our government is headed for a shutdown.  This is the result of several budget impasses, some of which started last year.

I’m not going to get political here much except to say we’re registered Independents for a reason.  Neither party represents their constituents, and traits like cooperation, reasoning, compromise, and respect flew the coop a long time ago.
Some individuals have been calling for a government shutdown.  They think this will prove some point about how little we actually need government services.
Here’s the thing though. Take away all of the finger pointing, blaming, toxic rhetoric, and party alliances. 
This ideological battle hurts real people. 
Let me tell you how this hurts us personally.
·       We are a military family.  60% of our monthly income comes from the government.  This will simply cease to come in.  No GI Bill, no drill pay. That’s over $2,000 that will be eliminated from our budget.  How well do you think you could cope if, on short notice, that amount of money disappeared from your budget? 

·       Not only does pay stop, but military employment stops.  Should this thing drag into next month, Mike will have no drill.  This means no employment, no pay.  That’s $350 that won’t be earned, can’t be recovered.

·       The VA system of hospitals and clients is federally funded.  Mike receives monthly services through them.  These too will be put on hold.  No medical care, no appointments, no prescriptions.

This whole thing puts our ability to pay rent and bills, purchase groceries, or get gas in jeopardy.  I’m not exaggerating or being alarmist.  We don’t have $2,000 in a savings account to patch us through.  We don’t even have $200. 
The funny thing is, we don’t even have it that bad.  We have friends who are deployed right now, work full time on active duty, or need intensive medical care. 
Military families, not to mentioned thousands of federal workers, depend on their government income.  Just like you depend on your employer’s salary.  It’s no different, except I doubt very much your business is going to go belly-up and suddenly not pay you.
It’s supremely stressful right now, knowing that we could be in real financial trouble through no fault of our own.  How do you approach a landlord, for example, and explain you can’t pay rent because the government didn’t pay you?  I can’t imagine them being very sympathetic.  
The budget has to be decided by midnight tonight or it will close its doors.  I am very thankfully that Mike’s GI payment came in yesterday.  So we are mostly covered this month. 
When he receives his drill pay is another question.  If his GI Bill comes in next month is also up in the air.  Who knows if he’ll have drill next month.  
We’re not magicians.  We can’t make money appear out of thin air.

I’m hoping our representatives can come to an arrangement tonight.  I really do.  I just wanted to share, in a concrete way, how political actions have real consequences.  

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