By Marc W. Polite
The Trump Administration has created yet another crisis in its attempt to “Make America Great Again”. The government shutdown, which began in December has lasted two weeks, and has impacted many in a negative way. A political maneuver to strong-arm Congress into granting billions of dollars in funds to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the shutdown has wrought much unnecessary suffering to federal employees, and their families.
When the federal government shuts down, it means that the people who work for the agencies that provide key services under its umbrella don’t get paid. There have been numerous stories published about affected workers being adversely affected by the shutdown. We are talking about 800,000 people. Whether it’s people who can’t make their rent, or people who have to.. it’s been a disaster for those caught up in this. In a recent study, it shows that one out of three Americans are one pay check away from complete destitution. How would you fair if you didn’t get paid for two weeks?
The heavy handed nature of this attack, however may wind up having some unintended consequences. As of Friday, stories began to emerge about workers in the Transportation Security Agency having a “sick out” in response to working without pay for such a stretch. While, this is just a rumble, and nowhere near a mass response, it does signify something. It’s not a strike, since federal employees can’t do that directly.. but it is a form of collective action and resistance.
Workers don’t go on strike because typically of the consequences.. with things being so tight for everyone no one is looking to get canned or lose money even if it means fighting for better conditions down the line. However, with these affected workers not getting paid anyway, it takes one less roadblock to a labor action off of the table. With President Trump openly threatening that the federal shutdown may last “months and years”, how long before such a prolonged shutdown forces the hands of workers in other agencies to follow the example of the TSA? If this lasts, there is a potential for a strike to emerge from the shutdown. Even though 2019 is a year when many people will be focused on seeing who the potential field of 2020 presidential candidates will be, this action may force a massive response by Americans that breaks out of the parameters of waiting for an electoral solution.
Furthermore, with news circulating about the likelihood of tax return processing and SNAP benefits being affected by the government shutdown, the damage done by this political temper tantrum could mean wider pain, and potential starvation for people who really need the assistance. The attacks on the standard of living of working people continues. Through the means of tax cuts at first, and now a government shutdown, a billionaire is making life harder for more and more people. This is the brutal reality of wealth calcification.
The individual who is formerly known as the “author” of The Art of The Deal may just get more than he bargained for.