Today about 800,000 federal government employees — a figure equal to the combined populations of this and several surrounding Texas counties — will miss their first full paychecks as the federal government remains on partial shutdown.
Imagine if the entire populations of Galveston County (321,000), Brazoria County (345,000), Chambers (39,000) and Matagorda (36,000) counties all missed their hard-earned pay? The economic impact would be disastrous for a great number of families, not to mention the economic ripple effect on local businesses.
Automobiles would stop rolling off the lots, home loans would be denied, and even grocery stores would find themselves sitting on milk and bread.
The government shutdown is political theater at its highest and most absurd level.
Regardless of how you feel about a wall being built or a controversial health care plan, the government should never stop serving those for which it exists in the first place. And to cut off the modest to average paychecks, a great many below $50,000 per year, is to maliciously kick the average citizen in the bank account. This shutdown is wrong and hurting the wrong people.
Let’s compare those not getting a paycheck against those starring in this theater.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s estimated net worth was $26.9 million in 2015. Sen. Nancy Pelosi’s estimated net worth was $100.6 million in 2015. Sen. Chuck Schumer comes in at roughly $1 million. President Trump’s net worth is about $3.1 billion.
By comparison, the average U.S. government worker earns $51,340 a year — of which a great number earn below $40,000 a year.
Who is going to have trouble missing a paycheck in this equation?
For the record, Congress is considered an essential service and therefore members continue to draw their $174,000 annual salary. Senators and representatives should carefully consider the optics of this action. Even making a commitment to donate their earnings to their local agencies would be a good step to showing compassion and solidarity with those who are not being paid.
This editorial is not about a wall. Rather this is about a game of high-stakes poker (or chicken) in which the chips carry the faces of pregnant mothers worried about paying a deductible for health care, Coast Guard workers risking their lives on the waters to protect our coastline, and families worried about having enough in the bank to cover both rent and groceries. Don’t kid yourself — the average American has less than $4,000 in savings, and 57 percent have less than a $1,000 to their name.
Let’s stop playing games with people’s lives. Regardless of the government classifying 800,000 workers as non-essential, the paychecks they earn are considered very essential to their families. Draw closed the curtains on this bad theater.
• Leonard Woolsey