While we're all upset, in one way or another, about the government shutdown of the past week, let me remind you that we've had another shutdown of sorts going on for almost a year.
Who remembers sequestration? Did you think it had disappeared? Did you think that, in the face of a total shutdown and a possible default, that it no longer had any relevance? Any effect? You didn't notice?
Just for the record, here are a few people who noticed.
Meals on Wheels. You might not need it, you might not even know anybody who does. I don't either. But the people who do haven't gone away. You just can't see them. They aren't out shopping and cooking for themselves just because they have to. It's hard to get to the store in a walker. And people using walkers are the lucky ones.
Head Start. I'm not affected by this one, either, and neither are my neighbors. I don't live in small town Wisconsin or on the South Side of Chicago. But there was a time when I did. A time when I had Head Start neighbors. Many of the sons and daughters of those neighbors are still there, even though I can't see them anymore. Their job opportunities are even fewer today. Their children haven't stopped needing care, meals, a Head Start in life. Without that, the next generation will need them even more.
Low Income Housing. My son just bought a house with me in mind, so I probably won't need this one, although I've got one ear pricked for the sound of the universe chuckling in its throat. But if I did. If you did. If any one we know ever does - too late. The waiting lists are closed. Helpful hint - that shopping cart that holds all your worldly goods? Can be used as a walker.
Sequestration has been here all year long, and it has been affecting real people all along, disrupting lives and making what had seemed possible for a while impossible once again. What has been a knife in the back for some may have felt like a paper cut to the rest of us., but that doesn't mean we aren't affected.
Sequestration won't end when the government reboots. It will still be there, affected programs shredded into further disarray, with backlogs, backups, and waiting lists crashing overworked computers and personnel right and left.
And the people left behind? They haven't left. They might not be us today. But tomorrow?