While the government shutdown remains more palatable to Americans than the Affordable Health Care Act, I found myself confounded once again at the nature of the "decision" to shutter the doors of what are considered "non-essential" government services. Items and services that remain open during the embargo: Nearly a million federal employees are not furloughed and will not be paid. Half of the Defense Department's civilian employees are furloughed. The annual influenza program, the one that tracks the flu and helps people get flu shots, has been shut down. The Center for Disease Control has also stopped offering its usual assistance to state and local authorities, who rely on the agency for help in tracking unusual outbreaks. NASA will furlough almost all of its employees, though it will continue to keep workers at Mission Control in Houston and elsewhere to support the International Space Station, much to the relief of the two Americans and four others are deployed. All national parks will be closed. Visitors using overnight campgrounds or other park facilities will be given forty-eight hours to make alternate arrangements and leave those parks. Among the visitor centers that will be closed: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and Alcatraz Island near San Francisco.
We still get mail. Social Security and Medicare will still get put in that mail. The U.S. Military will still get their checks, though not in the mail, since who would really want to depend on that? The TSA will keep asking you to take off your shoes and dump your shampoo. And the folks who started all this fuss, our elected representatives in Congress and in the White House, will still get paid.
And those same elected representatives will also continue to get their federally funded health care. That "Closed" sign isn't completely accurate. But that sort of makes sense in this operation, doesn't it?