Okay, team: we’re three days into the shutdown and I know the question that is at the forefront of our collective millennial mind: besides making The Daily Show even more mandatory of all mandatory viewing (looking at you, Masterchef Junior), what is The Shutdown of 2013™ not doing for us?
For starters, this latest Republican pissing contest isn’t doing anything to actually stop Obamacare, and it’s also not a contest. The Affordable Care Act receives its funding from an alternate source and is totally unaffected by the shutdown, as is the United States Postal Service, the majority of the department of Veterans Affairs, and the NSA. So, no need to worry: if you’re concerned about the NSA spying on you, you’re welcome to share funny cat pictures via your first-ever snail mail.
What we should really be concerned with, however, is the fact that the shutdown has forced the closure of the only cool things the federal government has going for it: NASA, National Parks, and the Panda Cam. Not only is the Mars rover on “protective” mode, but all research and development at NASA has gone on furlough. All national museums are closed and your long-awaited plan to hike Yosemite with a backpack full of weed is now your plan to hibernate on your couch and hike the mountains of Skyrim with a backpack full of skooma.
There’s more! Thanks to the shutdown, the CDC won’t be able to warn us of a zombie epidemic or of an outbreak of E. coli, since the FDA and EPA are also shut down. The IRS won’t answer their help-line, but they will continue to enforce tax-collection on delinquent taxpayers. Since you probably don’t have a job, this isn’t a huge deal, but as a bonus, you’ll continue to rack up debt (since Pell grants and other federal loans will continue to be disbursed) but if you’re trying to apply for aid, chances are no one’s listening.
And that big plan for a semester abroad? Technically, you’ll still be able to get a passport, but the State Department is playing coy on what their projected delays will be and how long they actually think they can continue operations. Supposedly, the State Department is exempt from furloughing employees, but that’s what they said about the military, too–and guess what? National Guardsmen are being asked to stay at home and military commissaries are closing doors.
If you’re in the Andrews Air Force Base area and you’re looking for a game of golf, no worries–their golf course is staying open. If you’re a woman, infant, or child looking for food, sorry–federal funding for supplemental nutrition is no longer available.
And if you’re one of the 800,000 government workers or thousands of government contractors whom the shutdown is forcing to take unpaid leave, well, sucks to be you. Congress knows whose salary is truly important: their own, since the assholes who got us into this mess have categorized themselves as “essential” and will continue to receive paychecks. It begs the question: essential to what, exactly? The orderly functioning of the government? I know at least a couple of pandas along with the majority of the entire United States who might disagree.