Each of the many fields I delve in – marketing research, public relations, advertising, and even this kid-happy hopscotch on Internet journalism – require data to use as foundations and cited sources.
That means I need to quickly access verifiable info on many different topics. And the quickest source for the widest range of information is always a .gov site.
After this childish shutdown, though, I’m surfing from site to site only to find pages that read “unavailable” or “suspension,” which leaves me scrambling for per capitas and indices and demographics.
As a result, this shutdown hasn’t just put over 800,000 government employees out of work; it’s left me hanging, too. (See the images below of government websites affected by the shutdown.)
Not all websites of federal government departments have been shuttered due to the shutdown, that’s true. Some still offer data that was already present on their sites, but with warning that there’s no new information available.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, has a homepage notification that new data is not being collected, thus can’t be provided. Facts and figures from its earlier reports are still accessible, however.
But that’s not the case for all of these government sites. The Almighty Census Bureau, for example – the division of the Dept. of Commerce that reports industry data, social surveys, occupational statistics and a smorgasbord of other finely-detailed information – isn’t allowing access to anything. Even old versions of its Statistical Abstract, ordinarily available from www.census.gov in decade-old pdf editions, can’t be accessed.
Neither can MapStats, FedStats, or the spiffy American Factfinder. Those sites, along with the Census Bureau’s (and many others I’ve found), only refer visitors to the generic usa.gov.
But that site carries a shutdown sign, too, so folks who try that link as a secondary option only wind up spinning in cyber-circles.
This shutdown hasn’t just resulted in some department sites that lack updates or are inoperable. Some entire offices aren’t working, either.
Take the Administration on Aging, for example, which provides help and needed reference to our country’s senior citizens, or the Civil Rights Commission. Even the National Council on Disability. They’re not operating online or brick-and-mortar. And these and other temporary closings leave many Americans vulnerable and unrepresented.
What’s worst about this shutdown garbage is that it’s not having the effect the Republican Party wants it to have. Remember, they refused to pass a budget bill solely because of the Affordable Care Act. If it stays operable, the GOP said, then they won’t let the government operate.
There are two profound ironies in this, though. First, the ACA was not included in that budget bill, so for House Republicans to argue against it through some unrelated avenue shows just how unfounded their argument is.
Second and most notable, the ACA and its website are still ongoing. With tremendous expansion, too, since its major elements went into effect the next day after this shutdown.
The GOP’s intended goal, then, is pointless. Fruitless. Idiotic and juvenile.
And self-defeating, too. A very recent Quinnipiac poll on this issue found that 72 percent of Americans think it’s wrong for Congress to shut down the federal government. The public blames the Republican Party for this wrong. And 74 percent of all Americans – even a majority of registered Republican voters (56 percent) – disapprove of the way the Republicans in Congress are operating right now.
And not only has it shot itself in its own foot, but the GOP has thrown away its crutches, too. This childish gesture is estimated to cost our taxpayer-funded government $12.5 million per hour. How’s that for “fiscal conservation”?
When the next election season comes around, the public won’t forget these inconveniences or costs, and not the personal threats to its representational rights, either, all of which are resulting from this latest Republican temper tantrum.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll close this composition to attend a matinee this afternoon with a friend who just got furloughed by the Dept. of Defense. Neither of us can get any work done, thanks to the shutdown, so we may as well entertain ourselves.