Editorial: Shutdown only hurts Americans

GovernmentShutdownFDA.jpgAs the government shutdown continues, America is realizing exactly how much the government manages. While Republicans and Democrats continue to bicker and argue, America is paying the price of this temper tantrum though several avenues.

The shutdown is supposed to prevent non-essential spending, but this isn’t happening in all cases. The servers that host government websites are still running, but they are redirecting to a shutdown page. It would have made more sense, if the government wanted to really save money, to shut down the servers to federal websites. It isn’t saving the government any money to block these websites. They’re only annoying the American people.

Shutting down the websites like this seem to be the act of a government trying to prove a point.

As time passes, more and more agencies will run out of other operational funds, and be forced to furlough their workers and shut down all nonessential work.

One example is the federal courts. The courts will have enough funding to operate until Thursday or Friday, but afterwards, courts will be forced to furlough nonessential workers. Jurors and court-appointed lawyers won’t get paid until Congress provides funding.

National parks were closed until President Barack Obama’s administration agreed to allow states to use their own money to reopen the parks.
Until that point, many Americans continued to go into national parks, monuments and malls. These barricade hoppers have been committing acts of civil disobedience. Some people have wondered whether this so-called civil disobedience should be punishable by law. These sites are generally meant to be viewed by the public. One such place is the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Crowds pushed through the barriers Sunday to view the memorial. Should these people be punished for wanting to remember? No.

It doesn’t make sense to shut down a memorial anyway, regardless of what’s going on with the government. It is government property and maintained by federal money, but the government is supposed to serve the people.

Punishing people for wandering onto park areas seems wrong. These areas cannot be completely blocked off, so people can easily walk onto the land despite the shutdown.

Park rangers are at a loss as to what is OK to do to these trespassers. They could fine them, ticket them, arrest them or just kick them off the land.

The park rangers’ authority in the matter is unclear. Depending on what their authority allows them to do, these parks may as well stay open to the public — as they should.

There have been rangers handing out tickets to people who do dare to walk on these lands.

However, some of these public areas were not closed during previous shutdowns. What makes this one different? According to the National Park Service, some memorials such as the World War II Memorial were closed by order of the White House. The Lincoln Memorial is currently barricaded. The memorial remained open during the 1995-96 shutdown.

Some have expressed concern that these closures occurred because the government would like to show how much it plays a part in the people’s lives.

Regardless of the reason, the memorials and parks should be kept open and people should not be punished for enjoying them.

Many government agencies are not performing routine inspections, such as the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Transportation Safety Board. The FDA and CDC were given permission to handle recalls and outbreaks, but since their main investigators have been furloughed, it is more difficult to handle these matters.

Patients are not being accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health.

Medical research has been limited. University researchers have been limited in their abilities to apply for grants and access government databases. PubMed, a popular research article search engine, is not being updated during the shutdown.

If a compromise is not reached soon, we can imagine that the civil disobedience will only heighten, and to the detriment to the people.

These are just a few of the many consequences of the government shutdown. Regardless of whatever side is right or wrong in the matter, a compromise must be reached.

The agencies shut down from these back-and-forth arguments perform essential roles in ensuring the health and safety of the American people. That has to be more important than who’s right or wrong in Congress.