Essential Personnel

For those of you who support the ransoming of our entire government over a mythical border “wall” this article is for you. Stop for a moment and consider what it means for even one-fourth of the entire U.S. government’s workforce to not be at their desks, even for a day.

A furloughed Federal employee is at home. Thus, they do not require that their suits be cleaned at the local dry cleaners, nor do they require the services of their local dog-walker. They will not be able to stop at their morning coffee shop for their beverage. They will not be buying lunch at their usual lunch counter in the town or city where they usually dine. They have no money for gas for their vehicles; no food for their children or pets, no rent or mortgage money and no money coming in the foreseeable future to allay their fears of homelessness. They cannot pay their health insurance premiums, much less pick up their usual (required) medicines at their local pharmacies. They certainly cannot go out for an evening to see a play or movie or dine at their favorite restaurant after a hard week dealing with important things like environmental or work safety. Needless to say, their children cannot afford their school supplies or even activity fees.

None of the above is imaginary. It is happening in thousands of homes across this country. Yes, hundreds of thousands of Federal employees will be repaid once the furlough ends, but no one knows when this will occur, and if you are a contractor with the government, you will never be repaid for the time you lost from not being able to go to work per usual. Those who work to generate income for the government to keep it afloat are not at their desks. National parks have been left open with no entrance fees being taken and severe damage is being done to our precious natural resources. And there are only skeleton crews at the National Weather Service during new severe winter storms.

Federal employees are sitting at home worried. The ones who have swallowed their pride are at food banks or places where food is being offered via charitable institutions or the profuse kindness of José Andres and the “Go Fund Me” website.

For those people who think our government is “too big” and not necessary and who welcome the shutdown of our essential services, think again. Tell that to a retiree walking dogs for a Federal employee for a living who uses that income to buy their daily insulin. Mention this to anyone who owns a café, coffeehouse or restaurant or lunch-wagon that is located near a Federal office building. Millions of Americans daily contact millions of Federal employees with questions about their government pensions, services and benefits. Then consider how disgraceful your opinion of government workers truly is. Anyone who does not support the work done by Federal employees is un-American, and that includes the sitting president of the United States.

The manual that dictates every aspect of a Federal employee’s professional conduct was prepared by the Office of Personnel Management. It delineates who must report to work in times of national emergencies, such as the aftermath of 9/11. It also describes who may not be considered “essential” and therefore is excused from work at critical times. This is not to say that there are any employees of the government who are taking a salary that do not deserve one, although there are a few glaring exceptions. All employees must be present at their desks to ensure that work is done in a timely fashion government-wide. The only exception would be an employee who has not shown up for work for an extended length of time due to a plethora of vacation days. Our leader has missed almost one-third of his work days since becoming president. Any Federal employee doing this would be summarily fired. Clearly, his job is not an essential one. It is time to officially declare him a “non-essential” employee and get rid of him pursuant to the regulations promulgated by Congress. At the same time, it is incumbent upon us to demand that Federal employees be returned to their jobs on a paying basis, since slavery was outlawed many years ago.

About the Author
Rachel Grenadier was an olah from the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2003 who returned to the United States in 2015. She really wanted to stay in Israel, but decided that having family members nearby was better for her health than a bunch of devoted, but crazed, Israeli friends who kept telling her hummous would cure her terminal heart condition. She has her B.A. and M.A. from George Mason University in Virginia and is the author of two books: the autobiographical "Israeli Men and Other Disasters" and "Kishon: The Story of Israel's Naval Commandoes and their Fight for Justice". She is now living in Virginia with her three Israeli psychologically-challenged cats and yet, denies being a "hoarder".