Carnes: Shutdown smackdown (postponed)

Any American who actually cares about our nation and its future already knows about “The Shutdown.”

If you’re one of those making such intellectual statements as, “I don’t care, they’re all crooks” or “It doesn’t affect me so why should I care ” or the ultimate example of political ignorance, “What’s a shutdown?” then please, turn the page (for that matter, why are you even attempting to read) or continue searching for feelgood stories on social media about living in Happy Valley.

Don’t get me wrong — you’re just as important to this valley as anyone else, I just see no reason to fill your head with numbers and stuff that have no personal meaning.

Anyway, as I was saying, most are at least aware that the shutdown that just started was postponed, but the details can be somewhat overwhelming — or depressing — depending upon one’s perspective.

Many federal employees will be furloughed, meaning not allowed to come to work, but once a deal is reached, most are paid back in full, which of course means the same tax dollars are being spent either way, just a tad later than planned.

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Also suspended are roughly 60,000 Justice Department hearings for non-detained migrants, safety screenings for products (you know, the type that outlawed Lawn Darts back in 1988), Head Start programs for children, food benefits, SBA loan approvals, National Parks fee collections, IRS audits and simple tax return examinations (those who just shouted “Yay!” for that last one have no idea how the federal government functions).

While Sen. Tommy Tuberville is still not allowing military promotions, the more than 2 million active-duty and reserve military troops will be expected to work without pay. Not only that, but the handful of MAGA hard-liners in Congress insisting on more federal assistance along our southern border somehow think forcing the current Border Patrol agents to work without pay is a strategy to recruit more Border Patrol agents.

Simply brilliant.

And for the traveling public, aka the segment of Americans and international travelers known as “guests” who make this valley hum like a well-oiled analog clock (you know what I mean), not only will TSA officers and air traffic controllers be expected to come to work without pay, but estimates are about a million bucks per hour will be lost just to the travel sector of our economy.

Spread out over our entire U.S. economy about $1 billion each week will be lost, or about $6 million per hour, or $250,000 per minute.

Meanwhile, regardless of how long it lasts, members of Congress will continue to make about $475 per day, or about $20 bucks an hour or $0.33 cents per minute, which is right on par with minimum wage for Vail Resorts employees.

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The problem is that’s based on being paid 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for 52 weeks a year, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t apply to any Vail Resorts employees.

And now that the Senate passed the temporary funding plan last Saturday, realize we’ll be going through the entire mess again one week after Opening Day on Vail Mountain.

And that’s less than 45 days from now.

Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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