Should Furloughed Government Employees Be Paid During the Shutdown?
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Happy Friday everyone! It has been another great week in the Frugal Rules home as we signed a pretty big client this week. You never know when business will come in when you run your own business and these past few weeks have been absolutely crazy busy, but that’s a good problem to have – right?! 🙂 As I keep telling people, I’ll take crazy over crickets any day. It’s also hard to believe that FinCon, the Conference for Financial Bloggers is next week. We’re excited to get there and meet everyone.
One other note on the blogging front – I will be introducing another staff writer to Frugal Rules next Tuesday! I’ve had this writer hired for some time now, and had been waiting for the site redesign to be done but don’t want to keep her good content from you any longer. So, make sure to come back Tuesday for our new staff writer and excited to have her addition to the community here.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you likely know that the federal government has been shut down since last week. As an aside, I would recommend my friend Grayson’s article from last week where he gave his thoughts on the issue and could not agree more.
In my opinion, neither party is immune from blame in this issue and we (for reasons passing understanding) continue to re-elect these fools and it’s incumbent upon them to do their job as opposed to name calling and complete unwillingness to work together. Amazingly, although they can’t find a way to work together to pass a budget for the country, members of Congress are still paid for their “work.” At least their unwillingness to work together changed a bit last week in the House with regards to giving back pay to furloughed government employees. From what I have read the issue of paying furloughed government employees has hit a rough patch in the Senate, though I suspect it’ll pass as we have paid furloughed government employees in every instance the government has had a shutdown.
Do Furloughed Government Employees Deserve to Be Given Back Pay?
As this is such a political issue, I am going to try and keep my bias out of it. I would like to get out of the way first, that I fully believe the military should be paid during the government shutdown as they defend our country and put their lives on the line so we can have freedom – should they be paid? Absolutely!
At issue is whether or not other government employees who have been furloughed should be paid. There are at least two sides, and likely, more to this hot button issue. On one side you have those that would argue furloughed government employees being paid is tantamount to a paid vacation. They get paid to stay home and arguably have to do nothing to get that pay.
On the other hand you have those that say that it’s only fair to pay furloughed government employees as they have no choice in the matter and the current circumstances in Washington are beyond their control. Viewing the issue from this side, you could say that it’s only fair to pay furloughed government employees as they can’t be expected to be held responsible for something they have no hand in.
While I think that both sides have some merit in their argument, I was discussing this issue with a family member over the weekend and they brought up a very good point. They brought up the issue of what happens to furloughed employees of private companies such as those who were laid off at the height of The Great Recession. Were many of those employees paid? No, they weren’t. They were sent home for weeks or months at a time and while they could keep their job, many were not paid during that time of being furloughed. I had numerous friends who ran into that issue themselves. Did it suck? Of course it did. Did they think it was unfair? Of course they did, but it is simply a fact of life. After thinking over this question of whether or not furloughed government employees should be given back pay or not, it really causes me to question how different the situation is. Other than having imbecilic superiors who can’t or won’t work together I would tend to think that there’s really no huge difference.
Honestly, where I come down is that I’d rather not see anyone furloughed, whether they work for the government or in the private sector. I think most people would gladly rather work than go without pay for an indefinite period of time, sitting around idle waiting to receive back pay that ultimately might not come. Even worse is the fact that so many Americans aren’t set up to handle a sudden halt in their paychecks as most people live paycheck to paycheck without a financial safety net. That to me is another real, albeit underlying tragedy in this whole situation – our lack of financial literacy as a nation.
Where Do We See Financial Literacy in all of this Mess?
Go figure, I bring up financial literacy in something like this – but I do think we see the lacking of it in regards to the issue of furloughed government employees and them being given back pay. The obvious issue with this is that our government can’t keep spending under control. We’d rather spend ourselves into oblivion as opposed to severely tightening our belts and sincerely looking to get our financial house in order. It would seem to me that many in our federal government could stand a few lessons in financial literacy. Specifically, I’d like to see our lawmakers demonstrate that they know what happens when we spend more than we make, but that’s a much bigger fish to fry.
More practically I see the need for increased financial literacy for the rest of us. I’ve either read or listened to numerous stories over the past week of furloughed government employees who don’t know what they’ll do if they’re not paid as they’re living paycheck to paycheck – at best. Some of those issues were somewhat out of their control, like in the case of their insurance/medical needs, though many were not out of their control. Many were because they’re not living financially disciplined lives and have nowhere to turn when an emergency occurs. I know that spouting about financial literacy will do little now in terms of helping those in need, but I can only believe their future selves will be greatly improved by an increased teaching of financial literacy.
What are your thoughts – should furloughed government employees receive back pay? Why or why not…and keep it clean. 😉 What fun things do you have planned this weekend?
Photo courtesy of: Pamela Stocks