"Sorry, We’re Closed” by Marina Noordegren. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Greencastle’s USDA office was closed.
Indiana’s Social Security office was closed.
The federal government was closed.

The government shutdown on October 1st shocked citizens across the country. Reporters on CNN, CBS, and ABC performed live shots outside Capitol Hill. Families watched in their living rooms to hear they could no longer order passports and all national parks would be closed. Government employees had a “snow” day.

According to a CNN article, nearly 800,000 workers were furloughed; an estimated 3.3 million government employees worked without pay – as their roles were regarded as critical. Workers were placed on unpaid leave until the legislators reached an agreement on October 17th on a budget for the new fiscal year.
When legislators reached an agreement in the early morning hours, government employees were to return to work as early as that day. While the government shutdown had significant costly effects on our economy, the repercussions trickled through government employees and their families; many of these employees living paycheck to paycheck. In Obama’s weekly radio address, he described the impact on these families as “heartbreaking.”

The government shutdown posed a significant ethical dilemma for federal and state employees. Certain essential employees were asked to work without pay, others released for a two-week vacation. Workers were faced with a looming question: Am I of value to the government? Why should I continue working for an organization that doesn’t value its employees?

Legislators were quick to put a stop to approving the budget as controversial legislation regarding the Affordable Care Act required bipartisan support. Meanwhile families across the country filed for unemployment as they didn’t receive a paycheck for more than two weeks.

This isn’t the first shutdown and probably not the last, but government employees won’t forget what it was like to not have enough money to pay for food or simple essentials. They won’t forget what it was like to tell their children they weren’t needed at their job that day. The inability for bipartisan support to come to fruition was seen in the thousands of letters sent to Obama and lawmakers pleading for the government’s reopening. People need jobs. In a society working so hard to create more jobs, it’s hard to believe our own government took so many jobs away from its own people. What kind of lesson does that teach our children?