Absurdity of government shutdown part of plan

Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 04:01 PM.

The partial government shutdown is in its sixth day as I write this. Some 800,000 federal employees, including me and one of our daughters, have been furloughed since noon on Oct. 2. Considered “unessential,” we’ve been on a forced, unpaid vacation. In addition to other duties, I’m a supervisor of six 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing federal employees. All six of them are also furloughed.

If the better part of a million of us is unessential, doesn’t it make you wonder why there are so many of us? It does me.

Oh well. At least we’re saving the tax burden of paying those nearly one million employees for a week or more. Using Jethro Bodine (of “The Beverly Hillbillies” fame) math — or ciphering as he called it — we’re saving more than $600 million by not paying us to not work for a week. Doing some quick ciphering you take what I’d guess to be an average salary of $40,000 per year for all 800,000 of us, divide that number by 52 (weeks in a year) to give us the weekly salary and multiply that number by 800,000.

While I don’t have enough fingers to do this level of ciphering, I do have a ciphering machine, which using the above numbers came up with a figure of $615,384,615.38. That’s a lot of money we’re saving. If the government can’t reach an agreement to end the shutdown, at least we have that, right?

Not so fast. The House of Representatives voted last week to provide us back pay for the days we’ve been furloughed. The Senate has yet to take up the bill but is expected to follow the House’s lead.

Now if you think it’s pretty dumb this partial government shutdown happened in the first place, how dumb is it to pay me for NOT working? I’m a taxpayer just like you. A tiny fraction of my taxes is used to pay me just as a tiny fraction of your taxes is used to pay me and my 800,000 fellow civil servants who are furloughed. I, for one, think it’s pretty dumb to pay me for not working.

It isn’t like I’ve been wringing my hands, tears streaming down my cheeks, exclaiming “Woe is me!” this past week. I’ve enjoyed the unexpected time off during a beautiful week in October in Eastern North Carolina, even though it meant I should expect a pay cut.

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