The pain of no check is widespread

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How many of us could afford to work without being paid?

Not the kind of work we do when volunteering at a child’s school, in the community once a month at a cleanup rally or volunteering at an animal shelter on the weekends. I mean the sort of work that is a job. A career. The sort where you spend the majority of your weekday away from family, friends and the things you worked hard to buy for necessity and comfort.

That place you call a home, the food you share with your family, that car you fuel up to take you to work, could you afford to keep them for two months? Six months? A year without dipping into your savings or retirement funds? How long could you afford them after those resources run dry? Without relying on government resources how long could some of us survive while still working without being paid?

As the current federal government shutdown approaches 30 days, hundreds of thousands of Americans are finding out how they can make ends meet when one of the ends is missing.

Some of them may take temporary or part-time positions to help carry them through a period of uncertainty.

If you’re a furloughed worker do you tell your would-be employer you don’t know how long you will be around because you don’t know when the shutdown will end? Could be a month, could be a year. Do you lie and say it’s a long-term commitment you’re willing to make? Or do you abandon the once sure thing altogether for the kind of job that is part-time or temporary because it is right now and you need to eat and pay bills?
If you’re an employer do you invest time and resources on someone you know won’t be around for the long term? There are risks with every new hire, of course, but savvy business people avoid the obvious ones.

Since the time federal employees have been placed on unpaid leave in December, businesses and neighbors have stepped in to ease the burden of not having a paycheck. But relying on private institutions and the generosity of neighbors for long-term stability is not a sound way to meet obligations with creditors and banks.

There are legions among us who believe government —whether at the federal, state or local level — employees are too many and overpaid and their ranks should be shorn. Maybe there is a case to be made for efficiency in government but clipping the workforce all at once and without consideration is ludicrous.

From money spent at local restaurants and stores by people who work for Uncle Sam, to those who write, explain and implement federal programs that affect where you live — block grants, DHS grants for DUI checkpoints — not being around to help us get the money we need for a community’s well being, the federal shutdown affects us. And while there may not be anyone in the local IRS office to answer your phone call, you can bet that your income tax returns will still be due in April. Although, who knows if anyone will be around to mail you a federal refund?

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