Sorry, I Don’t Feel Sorry For Furloughed Feds

Now that the nation has heard the President explain how he wants to address our immigration crisis, and we have all enjoyed the comic relief offered by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in lieu of a serious response, the media have launched a propaganda campaign they hope will pull the Democrats from the ditch they have driven into regarding “the wall.” But our friends in the Fourth Estate are approaching the project in a manner that merely highlights how divorced they are from the world beyond the Beltway. Their primary focus involves the heartrending human tragedy of … idle bureaucrats.

But most Americans regard “idle” and “bureaucrat” as synonyms. For those of us who have spent our lives toiling in the private sector, where employees are expected to produce things, “nonessential worker” is a concept that has no meaning. In the real world beyond the Beltway, businesses hire people because they have some “essential” task that must be performed. Thus, we aren’t often moved to tears when told “nonessential workers” will be sent home because of a government shutdown, Yet major news outlets actually expect us to be swayed by stories like this from the Wall Street Journal:

Rusty Long is debating which bills to pay and which to hold off on, as he plans to miss his first paycheck on Friday, along with hundreds of thousands of other federal employees … “We’re not going out to eat, we’re cooking every meal at home, and there were conversations about what could we stop if we needed to and what could I do to bring in additional income,” he said.

I’m sure Rusty and his family are fine folks, but he’s an architect who works for the Agriculture Department. I have no idea why that bloated bureaucracy needs architects, but I’m willing to bet he could find a job outside the government. So, the first question that occurred to me when I read this story is: Why is money being removed from my paycheck and given to such people in the first place? And, as human tragedies go, that the Longs are forced to manage their budget carefully and are unable to eat out often isn’t very impressive. Nor are the protests reported by the Washington Post:

Hundreds of furloughed federal workers, contractors, union representatives and supporters gathered in the brisk wind and bitter cold Thursday.… Leaders of the National Federation of Federal Employees said they hoped that bringing federal workers to the president’s doorstep would show him whom the shutdown has hurt.… The group began to march about 1:20 p.m. to the White House, calling on Trump to reopen the government with or without funding he has requested for a border wall.

Perhaps I’m cynical, but the first question that occurred to me when I read this story was: Why aren’t these people demonstrating at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue? The protesters claim that “this is not about politics, it’s about getting people back to work,” but it’s the intransigence of Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that has caused the shutdown. Having for years supported construction of a physical barrier for the southern border, and having voted to fund such a structure, they have executed a policy pirouette simply to thwart President Trump.

So, the natural place for protesters is the Capitol Building hallway leading to the Speaker’s office. Instead, they gathered outside the White House to wave signs at a man who was down on the border where the real human tragedy is occurring. The weather was better in McAllen, Texas, where protesters appeared in shorts and tee-shirts carrying signs that by an odd coincidence echoed what we have been getting from the media since the President used the term crisis in reference to the border situation Tuesday evening: “No Crisis Here.” But a lot of voters agree with Trump, according to a new poll:

This survey, conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of Politico from January 4-6 among 1,989 registered voters, found that 42 percent of the respondents agreed with the following statement: “The United States is facing a crisis of illegal immigration across the United States–Mexico border.” And another 37 percent described the situation as a “problem.” The percentages were identical among voters with a four-year college degree. Among Hispanics, 33 percent agreed that the situation was a “crisis” and 39 percent called it a “problem.” Yet the “news” media want us to worry about idle apparatchiks:

Julie Burr will receive her last paycheck from the federal government on Dec. 31. After that, she’s doesn’t know when the next one is coming. So, while she waits for President Donald Trump’s standoff with Congress over funding for a border wall to come to an end, the single mother has taken on extra shifts at Barnes and Noble. “It’s not going to pay all my bills, but it will help put food on the table.”

OK, call me callous, but this isn’t exactly Les Misérables. It’s a pain in the posterior to miss paychecks — but most furloughed bureaucrats will get their back pay when the Democrats figure out the shutdown is a loser and compromise. So, unless these folks have been really irresponsible with their personal finances, it’s not like our nation’s capital is going to wind up like Speaker Pelosi’s district in San Francisco. But, if you like online kvetching from furloughed feds, Twitter has a hashtag where you can get all you want: #ShutdownStories. This tale from a government lawyer will break your heart:

Now it’s an emergency to build a useless wall. Instead of declaring an emergency to fund the 800,000 workers who are going without pay which therefore is disabling us from paying our rent/bills/buying groceries. What a time to be alive.

Again, call me cynical, but the average government attorney makes about $123,000. Private sector attorneys make more, on average, but they are required to do more than merely show up at the office. This guy wouldn’t last over a month in a private law practice. He also makes it clear that he disagrees with the Chairman of the Board about the “useless wall.” In the private sector, you have two choices: Implement the vision of your board, or do the honest thing and resign. A Deep State lawyer takes the taxpayer’s money and undermines the will of the voters. Even worse, there are the scofflaws:

If every TSA worker, Air Traffic controller, Secret Service agent, CBP agent, etc would walk off the job Friday at 10:00 EDT, this partial government shutdown would end quickly. Imagine the consequences of that action!!

Here we have another denizen of the Deep State who doesn’t know her history. Shortly after Ronald Reagan became President, the air traffic controllers went on strike. President Reagan fired them — all of them. Why? They broke the law. It’s illegal for public employees to strike. Is this fair? Yep. As that notorious wingnut, Franklin D. Roosevelt, pointed out over 80 years ago: “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.” If a government employee can’t live with this, she should resign.

As to the media and their propaganda campaign, the voters have Trump’s back on this. Illegal immigration is the issue that got him elected and he’ll win this fight over “the wall.” Given a choice between border security and pampered feds, the voters will choose the former over the latter every time. No amount of propaganda about the plight of “dedicated public servants” will change that reality. There are many good people in the government, but a number are overpaid and underworked. How is a journalist to tell the difference? Leave the Beltway once in a while and ask an ordinary voter.

David Catron
David Catron
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David Catron is a health care consultant and frequent contributor to The American Spectator. You can follow him on Twitter at @Catronicus.
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