Government Shutdown

Government Workers Sad at Being Labeled Non-Essential, in Satire and in Real Life

Art imitates life, government shutdown edition



The partial government shutdown that began at midnight means some, but certainly nowhere close to all, government employees were furloughed (or put on paid vacation if, as is likely to happen, Congress decides to award them back pay when it funds the government again), about 800,000 ("non-essential") out of the 2.1 million strong federal workforce. Prior to the shutdown, some federal workers were honest enough to admit their jobs were "non-essential." Now, some federal workers have a sad that they've been labeled non-essential. Via Reuters:

The divide along the "essential" and "non-essential" lines added to the hurt even as the officials started to use the gentler terms of "excepted" and "non-excepted."

"I recognize how hurtful the label 'non-excepted' can be—all those who work at NIH are exceptional!" National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins wrote in a note to his workers on Tuesday, seeking to boost morale as he confirmed that the majority of NIH workers will be furloughed.

One Internal Revenue Service worker said he got an email on Friday saying he was considered an "excepted" employee but later that day, another email said nobody in his division would be considered excepted, based on new legal interpretations.

For those who are told they are essential, "they're psyched," the IRS worker said. "The people who are not essential are thinking about how they can make an argument (that) the people who made the decision missed something, and they're wrong."

Is it funnier as satire? Via the Onion:

Following Tuesday's government shutdown, which furloughed the jobs of all federal employees not considered to perform essential government functions, National Gallery of Art facilities manager Don Henning confirmed to reporters that the last thing he needed at this point in his life was to be called a nonessential employee. "Well, this is just great. I'm already working 60 hours per week in a low-paying job with horrible hours and zero perks, and now I'm officially being told that I could straight up stop going to work at all and it would not 'essentially' change anything," the 49-year-old husband and father told reporters, noting that after more than two decades living basically paycheck to paycheck with no real chance of upward mobility, the one thing missing from his life was a furlough notice from the government informing him that what he does for a living is essential to absolutely nothing.

For the record, by the government's own measure federal workers tend to be paid better than private sector counterparts (for those jobs that qualify to have a private sector counterpart). Because they're not subject to market forces, government jobs may not be essential even when the government deems them so.

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155 responses to “Government Workers Sad at Being Labeled Non-Essential, in Satire and in Real Life

  1. Without those essential NIH workers who is going to not treat Alabama Negroes with syphilis?

    1. I thought they treated them with syphilis.

      1. No, they just didn’t treat them, as a control group.

        1. Oh. These days I sometimes forget which tinfoil hat theories are real.

          1. Well, it’s a little more than that. They never told the men they had syphilis (they thought they were getting free health care), nor did they treat them or inform them of available treatments after penicillin was discovered. Many of their wives contracted the disease, and some of their kids were born with congenital syphilis. According to Wikipedia, they also prevented patients from accessing syphilis treatment programs available to others in the area, although the source for that is a book, so I can’t link to it.

            1. That must have been where I got the idea. Thanks.

            2. Calidissident|10.1.13 @ 10:26PM|#
              “Well, it’s a little more than that…”

              Yes, and I can’t believe the number of times I’ve posted to some idjit who claimed the Tuskegee study was some ‘free-market, big-pharm’ horror.
              No, it was what is now NIH end-to-end; pure government.

              1. Didn’t Wal-Mart run MK-ULTRA?

              2. Get with the program, will you? Everything bad is a free-market horror. Government is incapable of error except on abortion and, when a Republican is in the White House, on foreign relations.

          2. All of them. Also, no one in the know really believes that tinfoil will keep them out your head any longer. No more difficult to dial that frequency and beam it to your head than any other mineral.

            1. Yep. To block those signals effectively, you need to make a multi-band Faraday cage to surround your head and it must be properly grounded which could be done by a length of copper stranded wires to the bottom of each shoe.

              Not perfect, but much more effective than that tinfoil hat.

              1. Problem is that Big Tinfoil AND Big Faraday are both in the pocket of the NSA.

                Trust me they are reading all your secret messages from the aliens.

  2. Does anyone believe these people won’t be cashed out retroactively for the hours they were furloughed? Is anyone really complaining about a vacation of undetermined length payed in arrears?

    1. That’s what happened under Clinton. They killed whatever morale there was and paid everyone to sit at home and nothing got done. Government management at its best.

      1. When it comes to government, nothing getting done could be a good thing.

  3. Everyone is special in their own way.

    1. You are unique, like everyone else.

    2. Everyone is special in their own way.

      Which is another way of saying that no one is.

  4. Who will approve the beer labels?!?

  5. Congress should be the 1st people to not receive paychecks. Not the janitor at a national park.

    Plus, politicians should not be paid salaries/pensions/benefits. They get enough in Bribes, kick-backs, and lobby contracts once they leave office.

    1. Re: Alice Bowie,

      Congress should be the 1st people to not receive paychecks. Not the janitor at a national park.

      Both congresscritters and that janitor are thieves, and so they can suck my big one for all I care.

      1. Oh come on OM

        The janitors are at worst the recepients of stolen property, not thieves. That is unless they are moonlighting as IRS agents.

  6. JERRY: What?

    NEWMAN: That was the Vice President of the post office. I didn’t get the transfer.. They knew it wasn’t me doing my route!

    JERRY: How did they know?!

    NEWMAN: (Stands up) Too many people go their mail! Close to 80%. No body from the post office has ever cracked the 50% barrier! It’s like the 3-minute mile!

    1. Full exchange:

      Jerry: But I tried my best!

      Newman (with contempt): Exactly. You’re a disgrace to the uniform. (rips patch off jacket)

      Jerry: You know this is your coat.

      Newman: Damn!

    2. I never realized how racist Seinfeld was. So insensitive to government employees!

      1. In the original script Newman was supposed to be black.

      2. And that Indian girl he was dating.

        Kramer in the taxi with the Indian totem.


      3. I knew they were antidentites, but jeez!

    3. She was dumped … by Newman!

      1. She wasn’t his type.


        We will cut the bike in half!

  7. Comeon man, roll that beautiful bean footage.

    1. I lot a bot who has priorities, TJ

      1. Huh? “Like” a bot etc.

    2. TondoJondo is my nineties-nostalgia cover band.



    But also, fuck you, cut spending.

  9. Medals, ribbons, trophies and non-performance bonuses all around for our betters selfless public servants.

  10. I like being nonessential. Then I can stay home if it storms really bad. Plus – EXEMPT! So I get paid anyway! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!


  11. When I was stationed up in CT, after snowstorms sometimes the base would be closed and ‘non-essential’ personnel were to stay home for safety.

    Of course this is the military – you had to come *into* work to be told that you were non-essential and could stay home.

  12. The tears today were tastier than I ever could have imagined.

    1. I just wish it was for something real, not this horseshit clownshow.

      1. I would also have accepted “clownshit horseshow.”

  13. “all those who work at NIH are exceptional”

    Even the ones who approved that “study” for which you yourself apologized, Dr. Collins – the study that said the Tea Party was created by tobacco companies?

    1. Seems like that would have been worth mentioning.

  14. I don’t know how this is possible, but NoVa traffic actually got worse today after the shutdown.

    1. “Par-tay!”

  15. I’m already working 60 hours per week in a low-paying job with horrible hours and zero perks

    Come on, Onion, good satire has to be close to reality to be funny. This describes absolutely zero federal employees.

    1. It’s realistic if you imagine he thinks less than 200k is low-paying and horrible hours means he has to work when it’s sunny out. Zero perks means he gets threatened with a write-up when he drinks on the job.

    2. The Onion being just slightly to the left of Pravda, this shouldn’t be all that terribly surprising. Jon Stewart looks like Tim Slagle by comparison.

  16. Shit, the server squirrels must be government employees, because all of a sudden I’m having trouble posting.

  17. Government Workers Sad at Being Labeled Non-Essential

    In order for such a thing as a “non-essential government workers” to exist, there must exist such a thing as an “essential government worker,” which I don’t think exists, either.

    1. Oh come on. Internment camp workers are essential.

      And the guys that raid MJ dispensaries. And the calligraphers, they’re essential, too.

      1. Way to hate on the IRS hotline operators, SG. That’s racist, straight up.

        1. You can’t spell Social Justice Warrior without I R S.

          1. Seriously, why can’t they furlough all IRS workers, except for maybe two?

            1. As a revenue-producing department, the IRS is the last area they should be cutting. If the government were run on a rational basis, that is, which is a premise so ridiculous I’m ashamed to mention it.

        2. I thought that the irs call center was it sourced to India…

  18. When the media like CNN are saying gun permits could be delayed, they mean NFA transfers, and presumably new manufacturing licenses or FFL, right? So far as I’ve seen NICS isn’t affected right?

    Anyone know further?

    Seems like NICS would still become an approve after three days, and someone could have a good court case if they tried to dick around with it.

    1. I don’t see how gun permits could be denied since liberals have spent the last year trying to convince me that no one needs a permit to purchase a firearm.

      1. Don’t know why it matters either. Libtards don’t want to buy guns, so the only person who possibly could WANT a permit is some rat fucking teahadist hater planning to shoot up another school and kill Trayvon Martin’s family.

        Just like all the other recent mass murderers.

    2. You’re not already buying guns from the Sons of Anarchy?

      1. The elephant guns are hand made in South Africa. Need that for the ivory buttstock, of course.

      2. Nope, I’m getting out of town and going Nomad.

    3. If NICS puts a hold it defaults to OK after 3 days unless it comes back no.

      Leave you SSN and race off the form if you want to see it in action.

      1. The shutdown caused CBS to cancel NCIS?

        1. It’s complicated…

    4. Both NRA and NSSF are saying NICS is a law enforcement program and will operate normally, but they’ll be monitoring the situation.…..tdown.aspx

    5. I checked today, NICS is working fine

      1. Thank God! Jethro and the boys were up to their armpits dealing with terrorist shenanigans and I’d hate to not find out if they solved the case!

  19. It’s fist pounding desk hilarious watching Obama talk as if the earth is rising and sky is falling set to squish Americans like a pimple because of the shutdown.

    I dare, no wait, I double dare. Hang on. Triple dare you guys to break the record for longest shut down. If you can do it for over 30 days people will see life goes on – as Corky taught us all.

    Non-essential Federal employees who will get their money anyway.

    You guys crack me up.

    1. American Government and Hangers On – Entertaining Canadians Seemingly Since The Beginning of Time.

      1. It’s interesting to watch this admittedly. I don’t think it can even happen here. Even though, ironically, Quebec has the highest percentage of public workers on the continent. Talk about hangers on.

        The rest of the country is different.…..x?id=12577

        “It took a fiscal crisis for governments to finally understand that having huge numbers of people relying on government for income was not sustainable and would eventually lead to financial ruin for the country,”

    2. Since the Earth is pointed up, if America collapses Canada will fall right into the crater. So stop a-laughing hockey-boy.

      1. /wipes sweat from forehead.

  20. The divide along the “essential” and “non-essential” lines added to the hurt even as the officials started to use the gentler terms of “excepted” and “non-excepted.”

    How about “essential” and “quintessential”, then?

    1. “Differently abled”



      1. “Differently enabled”

  21. Hey, I like being non-exempt. It means I don’t have to come to work during a blizzard.


    When men were men.

    WWII vets break down barriers to get into memorial absent federal workers be damned.

    1. Consider this: They paid people to erect those barriers.

      Remember: The government shutdown will destroy us all, but apparently they still have people on staff who can purposefully try to keep WWII veterans out of a memorial.

      1. “Remember: The government shutdown will destroy us all, but apparently they still have people on staff who can purposefully try to keep WWII veterans out of a memorial.”

        Both the politicos and the bureaucrats will do everything they can to find (and finance) the most news-worthy ‘shut down’ and make sure that happens long before the WH calligraphers have to find jobs.
        If they could close the schools and send the kids home, they would do so. “Sleazy” is a compliment.

        1. Unlike the “Sequester”, where the Obama administration went out of their way to be as vindictive as humanly possible, this government temper-tantrum will be entirely above board, the media will hold both sides to account…. honest..

    2. During the big government shutdown here in Sunny Minnesota a few years ago, they spent a bunch of time and money putting up barricades at all the rest stops.

      Instead of just locking up the bathrooms they put up huge barriers to prevent you from pulling in and using the parking lot to stretch your legs.

      1. Why do you need a rest stop if there are no roadz?

  23. GOP Congressman claims Obama administration denied request to make an exemption for World War II veterans to visit memorial

    Both the White House and the U.S. Department of Interior reportedly rejected a request from Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) to allow World War II veterans to visit the WWII memorial in Washington, D.C. during the partial government shutdown on Tuesday.

    After they were denied an exemption, Palazzo reportedly helped the war heroes “storm” through the barricades surrounding the WWII memorial. “The veterans were visiting the memorial as part of Honor Flight, a non-profit that provides veterans free transport to the nation’s capital to visit the memorials to the wars they fought in,” Charles C. Johnson writes for the Daily Caller.

    Other GOP lawmakers were also in attendance to support the veterans’ right to enter the memorial.

    Because allowing a bunch of octogenarians and nonagenarians to wander around the memorial without a functioning government would be chaos?

    1. If true, Obama is a jerk. What can we add at this point?

    2. “Because allowing a bunch of octogenarians and nonagenarians to wander around the memorial without a functioning government would be chaos?”

      Because that lying shit pile hoped to get the news coverage and get it blamed on the rethuglicans.
      But you knew that.

    3. The WWII veterans should be glad they were turned away. This ain’t the government or the country they fought for. I’m glad my dad, a wwii veteran, died in 2003. He’s undoubtedly spinning around in his urn.

    4. I guess if you can storm Iwo Jima, you can storm just about anything for the rest of your life.

  24. Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.)

    I wonder if he is related to Enrico Palazzo, the legendary opera singer?

    1. Who can ever forget Enrico Palazzo?

      1. Too bad about Nordberg.

  25. You don’t have to hold your breath any more waiting for the exchange systems to have a breach of security. The good news is that the system worked. The bad news is that it worked in the same sense that it worked in the case of the attempted Christmas bombing way back when.

  26. See if you can wrap your mind around this “logic”:

    Money for nothing: Government shutdown costs $12.5 million per hour

    Here’s the price tag for the first government shutdown in 17 years: about $1.6 billion a week, $300 million a day, or $12.5 million an hour.

    That estimate, from economic consulting firm IHS Global Insight, covers just the cost in work and services the government is unable to perform as it furloughs 800,000 federal workers. According to IHS, pay for federal employees is considered part of the Gross Domestic Product, which is the total value of all goods and services produced in the nation each year. So no pay for the workers means no contribution to U.S. economic output.

    By this perversion of thinking, federal employees, who produce neither goods nor services of value, because every dollar paid to them is taken out of someone else’s pocket in the form of taxes or debt, is harmful to GDP because the federal workers won’t be spending their stolen money?

    1. The ticks think they are the host.

      1. Well, when all you see are ticks…

    2. “which is the total value of all goods and services produced in the nation each year.”

      Since those workers produce no goods at all and services only in the ‘repair broken window’ category, there is no reason to presume any loss at all.
      Perhaps they’ll find jobs and contribute somehow; even clean dishes would be an improvement.

    3. Money for nothing: Government shutdown costs saves $12.5 million per hour


    4. Looks like they forgot some “-“.

  27. I’m already working 60 hours per week in a low-paying job with horrible hours and zero perks

    The Onion strikes gold, except veers too far from the truth on this. It should be a better-paying job than the private sector equivalent with perks up the fucking wazoo.

    But, non-essential is, unfortunately exactly what so many government jobs end up being.

    Take, for example, the ‘small business development program’ the seattle School District created. “Hey, here’s a pile of money, give it out to people, especially if they’re minorities and women!”

    A bunch of these essential people went on to fork over millions of dollars to businesses, and in the end, it turned out the whole fucking thing was a hotbed of cronyism and corruption, with one central character ending up in jail. Who knew a pile of free government money would attract so many unscrupulous bees? I mean, who knew besides anyone with a working brain cell. But back to ‘essentiality’: The fucking school district is in the business of making sure my daughter can read, write and ‘rithmetic her way through life. It has zero fucking business being in the business of developing small businesses. How this shit goes up the flag pole, let alone anyone saluting is an utter mystery to me.

    1. Well the Onion was quoting the fictional worker. So it’s pretty close to reality for the government worker to think they are low paying and have crappy hours and benefits. What the Onion missed was following up the quote with a line saying something like the guy’s salary was 130k, he got 60 vacation days a year, and has a full pension after 20 years.

  28. So how many more shutdowns will it take to provide a pretext for a full fledged dictatorship? I mean the New Republic and plenty of online lefties are calling for one right now!

    1. Let them. That NR tweet was one of the best things ever to hit US politics.

          1. Holy jesus mother of god. Saying it’s beyond parody is beyond parody.

            1. It’s post-post parodyism.

          2. Jesus christ that’s fucking scary.

            Everybody thinks it’s gonna be right wing nuts that start a bloody revolution, but I’ve got my eye on the progressives. We have a century of history that says so.

            1. They do that to unarmed populations.

              And by “that” I mean that they launch a revolution and then kill everybody they want regardless of professed allegiances.

              1. Oh, I got you there, man. I’m thankful everyday that we’ve got an armed populace. If it wasn’t for the 300 million guns out there these people would be building camps right now.

    2. The left just discovered that Democracy Now! doesn’t always produce the results you want. So they’re becoming a little more Democracy Later!

      1. Is It Time To Abolish Congress?

        So far, there are few signs that the Will doctrine is going to prove palatable to House Republicans. But now that the shutdown has actually taken place, the pressure will increase persistently like a deep-sea diver gradually descending into the depths. Perhaps the crisis will force a reckoning. For the good news is that the twin crises confronting the U.S. could be resolved by a grand budget deal. Boehner and Obama already came close once. Both sides know what is needed. And both have been resisting it. A measly two-month continuing resolution is not the appropriate forum for a battle over the direction of a superpower. If they can reach a deal, Congress would doubtless refuse to abolish itself as part of it. But maybe lawmakers could give everyone a break by going on a long vacation.

      2. “Living rules” democracy suits them just fine… for now.

      3. Thumbs up, Paul.

  29. You Know Who Else said that the legislature was dysfunctional and that he needed to take over?

    1. FDR?
      Oh, wait. That was the Supreme Court

    2. Strangely, it was the Taco Bell chihuahua.

    3. Charles I Stuart (Pre-decapitation)?

    4. Chancellor Palpatine?

      1. Jar-jar Binks?

      2. Tondo Jondo?

    5. Mr. Burns?

    6. Julius Caesar

  30. Did this ever make the H&R comments section rounds? The comments sections at the end of the article were cool and refreshing LOL inducing, after a long day of shutdown skullduggery…

    1. This part in hilarious..

      So the message to advocates is clear: Avoid rhetoric or actions that reinforce the stereotype of the angry activist. Realize that if people find you off-putting, they’re not going to listen to your message.

      Also, if you smell like bongwater that’s been soaking in some 30 year old living room carpet for two weeks people may not be able to get physically close enough to hear your message to begin with.

      You may have a point (not really), but you steenk.

      1. This little gem in the comments section kinda struck me..

        Lauren Steiner – 1 day ago

        You know what, as an activist, it is not my mission to be liked. I am working with mainstream environmentalists who try to use the more traditional methods of influencing policy makers and affecting legislation and they don’t like my strident methods either. But you know what, their methods aren’t working. An already weak fracking regulatory bill that I led the fight against got made even worse in the final hours, and there was nothing the Big Green groups who made nice and got a seat at the table could do. The fact is, we humans don’t have another hundred years on this planet unless we resort to activist tactics, including non-violent civil disobedience. And if people don’t like us, F***K em!

        Right on sister! Speaking truff 2 powah, who cares if nobody’s listening because they think you’re loud, obnoxious, disgusting, and stupid…

        1. we humans don’t have another hundred years on this planet unless we resort to activist tactics

          You can’t argue her facts man, we have less than 100 years left.


          1. Very doubtful anyone posting here will still be here 100 years from now, so….

  31. So I guess in California in order to homeschool we have to basically act like a very small charter school, which means we need to have a name for it. Any suggestions?

    1. California Libertarian sweatshop and salt mine poly-technical academy youth camp for little achievers… LLC?

      1. That got a laugh out loud and a goddamnit from the wife, so good work there.

        1. GO ” Fighting Black Lungs? “… Yay!!

      2. I like it, but it needz moar monocles.

    2. Friendly Youth Teaching Waifs.

    3. A is for A

    4. Harold.

  32. News you can use: How to make a lightsaber

    1. How can we unbuild a lightbringer?

    2. Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

    3. But notice that Luke lost his lightsaber along with his hand while fighting Vader in Cloud City.

      And then in Return of the Jedi he has a green one with no explanation other than Vader pointing out that he made it. So how did he make it and who taught him how?

      1. he read the above guardian article.

        1. The Guardian does employ Rebel scum like Greenwald, so I can see them teaching Rebels how to arm themselves with a more eloquent weapon from a more civilized time.

      2. Plot holes in Star Wars?

      3. He can commune with Obi-Wan’s ghost, so there’s that.

        Clearly bed time, since here I am making up excuses for Lucas.

        1. Nope, when Obi-Wan appears to Luke on Dagobah after Yoda dies it’s clear from their conversation that this is the first time they’ve spoken since before he fought Vader as the topic awkwardly shifts to why he didn’t tell Luke that Vader was his dad.

          Obviously if they had communicated before then that would have been the first thing a pissed off Luke would have asked about.

          *I now it’s just a movie, but I like the mental exercise of finding plot holes

          1. My favorite plot hole is the one pointed out by the Robot Chicken spoof. Luke is moping about losing old Ben, a dude he knew for like 2 days, and Leah says something like, “Well my whole fucking planet just got blown up, my whole fucking planet!”

            Amazing how quick she got over that.

            1. Luke was a whiner. Leia was a grownup.

            2. Family Guy made a similar point where Luke gets all defensive when Han expresses skepticism about the Force and Han’s like “You’re preaching about the Force, something you only found out about like two hours ago.”

              1. What they really needed was a montage.

                1. Now I’m trying to imagine how John Williams would’ve scored a montage.

                  1. Would you settle for a Jon Snow 80s training montage?

                    1. That was pretty awesometastic.

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