What, exactly, makes one ‘essential’?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 9, 2011

The term “government shutdown” has a certain ominous quality that conjures images of a lawlessness and anarchy.

The reality is somewhat less frightening, with the affected federal agencies being those deemed non-essential. These include national parks and museums and even the IRS.

While these shutdowns will have little immediate effect on the River Parishes, a prolonged shutdown could trickle down to those who make their living in the tourism industry.

One of the more sinister snafus of times of government shutdown involves members of the military, who are required to remain on the job but do not get paid during a shutdown if no

provision has been made for them.

As for members of Congress and other upper-level officials, they continue to receive paychecks. As usual, it is the common man who suffers at the hands of the Washington elite.

Perhaps the federal government should look to the private sector in this case. When a business is looking at layoffs, the first to be let go are employees whose jobs are redundant or those who are unproductive.

It may be time to reassess what exactly constitutes an essential government employee. After all, what worker could be less essential than one who is unwilling to put aside petty personal differences for the good of the whole?