Buckle your seat belts, kids. We’re in for a long ride.
The House just passed a bill that would give the 800,000 furloughed government workers back pay. Did you hear that collective sigh of relief?
There’s another side to this, though. Both Republicans and Democrats have just dug their heels in the muck a little deeper. They are in no hurry to let tourists into the Capitol Building, or call their staffs back to work so they can read my emails, or reopen the parks so brides and grooms can have their dream weddings, or reschedule blood drives at government offices, or reopen the dorm at the NASA Ames Research Facility so fifty brilliant interns have a place to sleep. They are in no hurry.
One sage government worker describes it this way. Both parties are taking the heat for the shutdown. Think of it as a lidded pot under pressure, and to keep the lid from blowing, they let off some steam and pass a bill offering back pay to employees. If the House members voted against giving back pay, they would have said to the nation and the world that they are benefiting from the shutdown. They can’t do that, so they are blunting some of the anger coming their way.
What’s going to end this shutdown? Public opinion. I’m keeping up my personal barrage with my daily blog postings and emails to Congress and the White House, plus my requests for readers to participate, but I admit, that’s not going to do it. How about if Wall Street investors take a 10% hit, will the government reopen fully then? Sure. But that better not happen. Will the government fully reopen if our Wall Street investors state with one voice that this current practice is bad for business? Probably. How do we get the Fortune 500 crowd to do this? I’m working on it. Let me know if you figure something out.
In the meantime, I’m thinking about driving to Groveland, the home base of the Rim Fire still not fully contained in and around Yosemite National Park. The Iron Door Saloon makes great burgers and sweet potato fries; it’s purported to be California’s oldest operating saloon, and we usually stop there on a drive to Yosemite. If you sit in the bar you’ll see all these dollar bills tacked to the ceiling. It’s a great place. The businesses in Groveland are suffering because Route 120 was shut down due to the fire, and then there’s the smoke. This blaze began on August 17 and it’s supposed to be contained by tomorrow, but the containment date has already slipped. The wildfire is massive; four hundred and two square miles have burnt. Local news reports that businesses are laying off workers in Groveland, and many owners fear they will have to shut their doors for good. The road is open, but with Yosemite closed, things look bad.
I’m really happy the House has passed this bill; I know people who have been sweating finding rent money. But it’s not going to help the town of Groveland and all the other Gold Rush towns in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range losing business every day because Yosemite is closed.
Keep up the pressure. I’m ordering a cheeseburger.
October 5, 2013