Readers write about their shutdown frustrations

Joe Davidson
Columnist October 9, 2013

The Federal Diary gets lots of reader reaction via e-mail, snail mail and online posts. Some of it is fit to print. Occasionally we give readers a chance to speak out by publishing their remarks, edited for clarity and length.

Letters about the government shutdown have been flowing. Here is one responding to a column about federal employees angry at the shutdown’s turmoil.

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about the federal workplace that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. View Archive

I’m a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer living in New Zealand. It’s disgraceful that our elected representatives have once again been unable to avoid a government shutdown, and I feel embarrassed when I have to explain this action to my foreign friends.

Failure to keep the government running is a critical abdication of responsibility by the members of Congress, whom we have elected to serve us. Such an egregious failure to uphold the trust we place in them is an insult to every American. I believe that each member of Congress should resign immediately, thereby forfeiting the responsibility that they have so clearly shown they cannot exercise. In fact, we ought to consider a constitutional amendment that would require members of Congress to vacate their positions if they cannot fulfill this basic requirement to keep the government up and running, and they should face an immediate call for elections to fill all seats of the House and Senate. Certainly they should receive no pay or benefits if they allow the government to shut down.

This is outrageous!

— Roy Glover

Petone, New Zealand

Change focus

I’m a senior analyst who has been working in the intel community for 38 years. I appreciate the sentiment in your column: “Federal workers also start facing a furlough of morale.”

But did you have to list shutting down the parks and preventing veterans’ benefits from being paid as the two outcomes of the shutdown? What about weakening our national security?

I and a lot of my intelligence community colleagues who are — or were — working to protect the nation, were forced to go home. To me, this isn’t about parks closing. And, while I want vets to get their pensions and benefits, I also want to go back to work and help keep America protected and safe.

Tell us your story

Please stop focusing on parks and put the focus where it belongs.

Thanks for your excellent columns.

— John Riehl

Laurel

Shut it all down

This reader responded to a column that said not all government services close during a shutdown by saying they all should close to make an impact.

It’s precisely that so many major government functions continue in a shutdown that people don’t even notice, and therefore don’t care or think it’s okay or at least not so bad. If the government is going to shut down, shut it all down, even those aspects affecting life, death and security. Only then will most people notice or care.

— Bob Dardano

Washington

Navy Yard

Before the shutdown, our attention was fixed on the Washington Navy Yard killings that left 13 dead, including the shooter. An Arlington retiree has a clear answer to this question asked by the Federal Diary last month: “Should profit-driven firms be doing background checks?”

ABSOLUTELY!

Or, perhaps we might turn over the process to the Veteran’s Administration, and that organization can use as its business model the quarter of a million backlogged requests for assistance sitting in the inboxes of “federal employees whose obligation is to serve the people and their government.”

Yes, private, for-profit firms conduct background investigations. And I’m sure that process can be improved. Perhaps additional training for the people who conduct the investigations is in order.

— Carole E. Hunt

Arlington

Another column said the Navy Yard killingscould lead to greater scrutiny, less privacy for federal workers.

I worked at the State Department for 34 years before retiring in 2012. In all that time, my personal belongings (pockets, bag) were not once searched upon entering a State Department building. How many handguns or other small weapons could any of us have brought in, any day of the work week? The only clear solution is to treat every person coming into a federal building as a visitor is now treated: pocket contents and bags both scanned, plus the individual passed through a metal detector. Can you imagine the lines that would cause between 0730-0830 every day?

— Paul Boudreau

Washington, D.C.

Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at wapo.st/JoeDavidson.

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