No progress on the government shutdown… and I’d like compensation


Silly me… I thought the government was supposed to be for the people.

(Ok… actually, there is a reality of that opening line… and in the immortal words of Jackie Gleason from Smokey and the Bandit: “That’s an attention getter.” Still…)

The American political system isn’t about everyday people. We get the benefits of a civilized society and organized services from our government. In many ways, those are good, and often great. In many ways, the government is responsible for positive things.

However, if the system was about average people, then the people accepting contributions and job offers for friends and family wouldn’t be speaking on and on (and on) to defend and support those same companies that provided the dollars and employment opportunities. In other words, our best interests would be involved, and not their best political interests.

The system is bogged down to the point of often bordering on useless. In the past year alone, we’ve been treated to such wonderful government demonstrations -- over and over and over again -- as the fiscal cliff, the sequester, the shutdown, and the debt ceiling.

Let’s consider three ideas:

Number one -- Be careful about trusting decisions to those with no understanding of the issue… or to those with no interest in the outcome

I happen to know of a company that by policy required staff to park off-site, and then used a shuttle bus system to bring employees to the main property. Upper management… senior executives… did have on-site parking privileges, and they used an area immediately adjacent to the elevators that led to their offices. (Imagine that.)

Every so often questions would come from the staff concerning parking, and the answers always seemed a touch off. The answers weren’t really wrong… they just seemed to miss the point. An employee might ask why they needed to park in a distant lot. And the response would be that employees saved money on gas… got to rest a bit while someone else drove… and so on -- presented in glowing terms, while never really addressing the actual question.

“Why can’t we park on-site?”

“Think of the money you’re saving on gas.”

“Well, I actually live in the opposite direction, so I’m spending more money on gas because of this situation. Still, that wasn’t my question. If you don’t mind… why can’t we park on-site?”

“And that ride is time when you can rest. No worries. Escape for a bit. You can close your eyes, or just gaze off at the beautiful landscape passing by while you relax in comfort.”

“It’s just a three-minute ride if we’re being honest about it. I actually spend more time sitting on the bus while it’s not moving, waiting to get going. Plus, I need to add 60-minutes each day to my commute in order to use the shuttle bus. I have to park, wait for the bus, ride it in, and then after work do the reverse. Again though, not my question. I was wondering…”

Yup, in order to use the shuttle and arrive at work on time an employee would need to leave earlier for the ride in and add time to the ride home. Seldom did management bring that up.

Funny thing though, there was a perfectly reasonable answer for why off-site parking was needed.


Parking was at a premium on-site. To bring in the customers it made all the sense in the world to free up as many spaces at the property as possible. And part of that concept was relayed to staff. The trouble is -- well, remember those “who is the bus driver” word problems when you were younger? -- the response provided never seemed to match the problem with a smooth, accurate communication. And I often think that the reason wasn’t a run-around, or some intentional misdirection. I believe that in this case it is possible that senior management never understood the concept.


Because it didn’t matter to them.

Since they didn’t have to park and then ride the bus, the idea that employees might be spending even more time commuting didn’t connect.

Number two -- Some of the best food is available near a national park

Near one of the entrances for Mount Rainier there is a place called the Copper Creek Inn. The restaurant here serves a blackberry pie that is… well… delicious, amazing, brilliant, and an entire thesaurus of appropriate words would fail to describe it. This pie, when served hot from the oven with a scoop of ice cream, is the greatest pie in the world. (One bite and you would agree. Yes… you would. Straight from the oven to you, after one bite, you would nod when asked if it was brought to your table directly from paradise. It’s that fabulous.)

And the Copper Creek Inn isn’t alone. I’ve had the great fortune to visit several tremendous places located near national parks… restaurants and hotel rooms serving the visitors of the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, and the Everglades, as just a few examples. And these locations depend on those of us visiting the parks for their revenue.

Number three -- Back pay

While politicians postured and posed and worked on getting the perfect quote released to the media that would catapult their name to the top of headlines, they seldom agreed on anything.

Except when it concerned back pay for furloughed government workers.

They agreed on that.

Ok… so… those three concepts now placed before you… I ask: Are these people representing me? Are they representing you?

The answer for the VAST majority of us clearly seems to be no. Not in any way, shape or form.

They are out of touch with my needs and the challenges I face, and they show no recognition of total scope of the damage being caused. (Unless of course it creates a good sound bite. Then they recognize that an issue exists. Unfortunately, when presenting the material, they honestly have no clue what they’re talking about more often than not. But we don’t have time to drive off on that tangent.)

One more thing before I really begin to vent. Let’s read a story. This one comes from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and it looks at how several American vessels are stuck in port during one of the crab seasons because no permits can be issued while the government is closed.

Now… all that material delivered… here’s why I’m upset.

My retirement.

(I know… stay with me.)

As these politicians stage their little contests of chest-thumping, word on the street is that Wall Street is paying close attention. No less than Warren Buffet said of the thought of defaulting “it would be a ‘pure act of idiocy’ and ‘asinine.’” And I agree.

In the easiest of explanations: I’m certainly not happy about watching a 401k collapse on me. (Again.)

I’m not specifically (or solely) referring to my retirement though. Instead, what I am talking about is the repercussions… the collateral damage. (So to speak.)

Should furloughed government employees receive back pay for the time they were out of work? I honestly don’t know. I’ve heard stories that many were signed up for unemployment compensation. (I cannot prove that.) And the reality as I understand it is that virtually all of them knew they were eventually heading back to work. (In comparison, I’ve had plenty of friends that lost their jobs, but when it happened to them they were never heading back to that employer within a few days or weeks. I’m sure you know people that faced this scenario as well.)

That said, I’m fine with the thought of back pay since it is an attempt to make things right for people that suffered at no fault of their own.

The trick is… the back pay for government workers is, to me, typical Washington looking out for their own and nobody else. Places like the Copper Creek Inn… counting on visitors to a national park… will not, to my knowledge, be getting “back pay” of some sort.

Check out that article on Alaskan crab fishing again. No permits… no crabs. Sounds easy enough as a concept. But deeper down in the article is this paragraph: “Gleason estimated that $80,000 a day loss number for the fleet and said the problems will only get worse. The holidays are huge for crabbers, especially sales to Japan. Each passing day means Russian fisherman can corner the market and box out American suppliers in quantity and pricing.”

Where are we with this?

In part, it’s like moving a car. Any person knowledgeable about getting good gas mileage will tell you the most dangerous item working against your efforts is the brake pedal. Slow down… lose momentum… waste gas getting back up to speed.

This shutdown… this threat of default… is amazingly pointless. And even if it does end before a default… instead of using energy to make things better, get stronger, and improve, resources will need to be directed at recovering, getting back up to speed after the brakes were applied. And those investments of resources will never fully cover the damages resulting from the process of shutting down and starting up again.

Which leads to my retirement. Why should I have to watch my investments work hard to recover losses caused by the government’s inactivity and, frankly, reckless actions?

Well… my guess is because our elected representatives simply don’t understand. They’re not parked in that lot. They’re not riding that shuttle. And perhaps it’s well beyond time we all realized that.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

After completing this essay and starting the process of posting it, word began to circulate that the Senate had reached a potential solution, and it was expected to pass through both sides of Congress.


I’m still not happy… and most of my thoughts remain intact. Because… and you’ll never believe this… nothing got done.

Watch… pay attention… listen and read and think about the materials you will see over the next few days. Because you’re going to be made aware of dates in December and January and February.

All that was accomplished was putting off the problems for a few more weeks.

And talk about delusional. Get this -- “We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win.

That’s John Boehner folks. And he’s not kidding. He’s the House Speaker. And… apparently… he’s serious. If we trust his words, he honestly believes that he led a good fight here, which means he believes it was worth it.

I’m stunned.



January 2014. Any idea why you’re hearing that date as one of the dates involved as a deadline for “addressing” portions of this mess? Go figure… it just so happens to be the time that lovely sequester comes around again. In short, it wasn’t picked out of a hat.

There’s no long-term solution here. Nothing solid at all.

The Democrats can’t do anything right, and the Republicans are too stupid to act on it. Or… did you miss the fact that the Republicans supposedly took this stand to force action on the Affordable Care Act, and then nothing in the final results even noted “Affordable Care Act” in a whisper? (And as to the Democrats getting it right, I refer you to all of the stories pouring out that the on-line resources for health exchange as part of the Affordable Care Act apparently are so outdated and obsolete that the sites may need complete overhauls. That’s my example for now.)

Idiots. That’s my opinion. Self-serving idiots. And they have no clue what is happening around the country, to real folks… to real Americans.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at