Compromises have been made throughout U.S. history, but the lack of compromise last week on Sept. 30, the eve of the new fiscal year, forced the government to shut down as Congress had become so partisan that it failed to agree on a budget for this fiscal year. As a result, Congress failed to appropriate funds to the various branches of government.
Though not all agencies have shut down, such as the military and border patrol, agencies that are not deemed essential have been forced on furloughs.
Over 800,000 government employees in federal agencies such as The National Aeronautics and the Environmental Protection Agency are currently out of work. All national parks, monuments and zoos have been shut down as well.
Governor Jerry Brown decided not to take on the task of keeping California’s monumental national park Yosemite open on its 123rd birthday, for this is the first in many years that California finally has finally kept a balanced budget and Brown could not justify ruining that.
So, how is this fiasco in Washington going to affect students at Palo Alto High School?
In short – it’s not going to have much of an impact. Paly students don’t need building permits from the federal government, and unless a student is trying to go camping in Yosemite or another national parks, he or she will not feel the effect of the shutdown.
If a student’s parent has been forced on furlough, that student may notice a change in family dynamic as that parent will stay home. Even still, if this shutdown is anything like it was in 1995-1996, it will likely last less than a month.
“[The government shutdown] is affecting my family because now my dad has been forced to work at home,” senior Talia Brown, whose father works for NASA, said. “He had a day to bring all his stuff home from work, but he’s doing all the work he normally does, just at home.”
The last government shutdown began Dec. 16, 1995 and ended Jan. 5, 1996. There have been 17 government shutdowns since 1977, ranging from half a day to 21 days.
“[My father] is preparing to come back to work soon,” Brown said. “He’s not too worried as he went through this before during Clinton’s presidency.”
The end of the shutdown is unclear as Congress cannot decide how to allocate funds for this fiscal year.
Much of the talks have been about Obamacare even though it has already been passed by Congress and was activated this fiscal year. Now, a small fraction of Republican Party members, including the Tea Party, are fighting the already-passed Obamacare, and are using the shutdown as a bargaining chip. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of government employees have been forced to leave work without pay while Congress debates about the budget with pay, including students’ parents.
While a majority of students are not being affected by the shutdown, they should be aware of the dangers that the prolonged shutdown could pose on US stability and eventually affect them personally in their everyday lives.
And while most students cannot vote, for a democracy to work, the populous must be informed.