Capitol Building

Trumpty dumpty sat on a wall

Tens of thousands of federal employees are feeling like they have had a great fall, and they are wondering if and when they can “be put back together again.”

We may know by the time this gets posted whether or not President Trump “had a great fall”, and if so, if he could be put back together again.

What I do know right now is that tens of thousands of federal employees are feeling like they have had a great fall, and they are wondering if and when they can “be put back together again.”

I usually restrict my blogs to food safety issues, but since I am flying across an ocean in a few days, I am now not only worrying about what the second longest (maybe by now the longest) federal shutdown is doing to food safety, but how it is affecting the TSA and flight controllers charged with getting me safely there and back.

Leaders say that all essential services, such as FSIS inspection of slaughter and processing facilities for meat from poultry, swine, cattle and sheep, will continue uninterrupted. They have to, because without inspection there can be no slaughter.

With no slaughter, the animals will suffer.

Who cares about the humans that are furloughed federal workers? We seem to care more about that 42-day-old broiler who must be harvested, or maybe it is the political clout of the company that owns that chicken that keeps FSIS inspectors on the job, but unpaid; but keeps our National Parks rangers at home as filth and debris build up in the parks.

But those FSIS inspectors, and those TSA agents, and every other federal employee considered essential and are thus working, are not getting paid. At least not until this impasse gets resolved, and at the moment I am writing this that just seems like it is not going to happen anytime soon.

The Democrats and the Republicans are playing a game of chicken and the little guys are losing.

The workers who are essential and thus employed are not getting paid, but they are paying mortgages, rents, tuition and buying groceries. Do you honestly think their minds are totally on their jobs, or do you think they may, at times, wonder off with worry about making ends meet?

And what about those prospective new homeowners that can’t get a Ginnie Mae or a Fannie Mae approved mortgage so their life is on hold, and dreams are halted?

What about farmers needing to apply for subsidies to help overcome the effects of President Trump’s trade war? They cannot even apply or much less get paid until the U.S. Department Agriculture can reopen those Farm Service Agency’s offices scattered across the nation.

Don’t they already survive with little to show for their hard work to feed us?

And then they read about the Vice President and key Trump appointees getting a $10,000 raise. It is a miracle they stick with their love of the land, if not the country they live in.

Oh, and to try and put some balm on the oozing dissent, the Trump Administration has directed the Internal Revenue Service to go ahead and call some workers back from their furlough, but remain unpaid, to dish out tax refunds.

I think this move is either silly, or ominous, but I don’t know which---yet.

Seriously, how many of you readers have your tax returns completed by Jan. 7? Yes, that is what I thought, so it may be silly just to look like they care.

But it may be ominous because maybe the Administration plans on keeping the shut down until April 15 or later if they do not get their precious wall. By then most tax returns will have been filed.

And when will the unknown and angst over this disruption begin to torpedo my retirement funds? That is much more likely to happen than a foodborne illness outbreak as a result of some distracted FSIS inspector struggling to stay fiscally solvent without a paycheck.

And then we have those much more dependent upon the USDA for reasons other than food safety than I ever will be; those are the recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC).

These programs provide nutritional supplementation to a total of 47 million Americans, most of whom could care less about a wall, and even less about a tax refund happening in the first two weeks of January.

I hope “all the King’s forces and all the King’s men” can put this country “back together again.”

(And no, I am not elevating anyone’s status to that of King, I am just quoting the childhood poem.)

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