Government Shutdown, and the Consequences of Incivility

In the interest of vivifying the consequences of the current government shutdown, here are some highlights from CNN.com’s list of which federal agencies and services are open, closed, and partially functional.

Government Shutdown, and the Consequences of Incivility

As a result of bipartisan stopgap legislation, active duty military personnel remain on assignment, and will continue to be paid. But only half of the nation’s 800,000 civilian Defense Department workers remain on the job.

Of NASA’s 18,250 employees, only 367 are at work this week. 212 of 4,195 employees of the Department of Education are currently working. Of the 680 employees of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, 37 are currently in the office. And of the 1,460 employees of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 67 currently remain.

Only about half of the Department of Health and Human Services’ 78,198 workers are on the job during the shutdown. For the Department of Energy, it’s thirty percent — 13,814. Nineteen percent of the Department of the Interior’s 72,562 are in the office. And for the Department of Labor, it’s only eighteen percent of their 16,304.

Fox News reports that the IRS has just 9.3 percent of its workforce hanging around this week — about 9,000 workers. The Environmental Protection agency has retained just 6.6 percent of its workforce. Of more than 16,000 employees, just over 1,000 are on the job. And the Department of Commerce retains just thirteen percent of its staff.

According to the Huffington Post:

  • In Alaska, National Transportation Safety Board Investigators have all been furloughed.
  • In Colorado, the Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit has shut down.
  • In Georgia, seventy-five percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 13,000 workers have been furloughed, and researchers have had to halt their studies.
  • And in Maryland, firefighters were forced to move a memorial service for a colleague killed in the line of duty when the federally run Fallen Firefighters Memorial was closed.

Bloomberg.com reports on IHS Global Insight’s estimate that the cost of the government shutdown amounts to approximately $300 million per day (that’s $12.5 million per hour). While according to Businessweek, Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics estimates that if the shutdown stretches for three to four weeks, it could cost the United States 1.4 points of growth.

Government Shutdown, and the Consequences of Incivility

This — all of this — is an example of what happens when intransigence triumphs over civility in the governing process. It is what happens when we mistake adversaries for enemies, and place personal gain or partisan point-scoring ahead of maintaining a baseline of common good.

The consequences of incivility are not abstract in this case. They are measured in wages lost and services not rendered. They are measured in research not done, progress not achieved, and lives disrupted.

And it has all been entirely avoidable.