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At least 14,000 unpaid IRS workers did not show up for work (washingtonpost.com)
109 points by ddebernardy 29 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 127 comments

Good for them!

Working without pay is completely nonsensical. The relationship between the employee and employer has been broken.

If I were in some of these guys shoes I'd be working odd jobs to make ends meet.

Is it better to find short term solutions, like odd jobs, or to find new employment?

"The IRS is also losing 25 IT staffers every week since the shutdown began, with many finding other jobs, one House aide said, citing the IRS officials' briefing."

At least some are already doing this.

You have to wonder how many of the remaining people are dedicating their time to updating their LinkedIn profile and searching for a new job...

Depending what you were doing for the IRS, there may not be a ton of other employment out there for your skill set, especially on a short time frame.

One possible motivation for the administration holding out on the shutdown is it encourages people to leave the civil service; they've been fairly open previously about wanting to purge he federal civil service of those not loyal to Trump, either leaving holes or backfilling with loyalists. Civil service rules make this difficult, but driving people off with no pay (and publicly characterizing staying in that situation as a noble gesture of loyalty to the President, as some admin figures have done) is one way to do some.of that in a way which avoids civil service protections.

It doesn't have to be "leaving holes or backfilling with loyalists". The "holes" go away if the positions are permanently discarded.

Civil service rules are quite troubling. I can see the idea that it shouldn't be easy to make everything political, but the problem is that this goes only one way. If the president's predecessor hired a few million hostile partisans, what is he supposed to do? Is he just supposed to continue down that path, hiring tens of millions of his own partisans in order to win back control? Maybe the next president can hire a hundred million people, and then we're one president away from the entire population working for the federal government. There needs to be a reasonable way to toss out the partisan troublemakers who are undermining the will of the voters.

Another troubling rule is that layoffs must be done according to seniority and veteran status, not performance. Performance is considered last! This is an absurdity; you couldn't run a normal non-monopoly software firm that way. The only reliable way to eliminate low-performing employees is to eliminate everybody in a given agency.

> Civil service rules are quite troubling. I can see the idea that it shouldn't be easy to make everything political, but the problem is that this goes only one way.

No, it doesn't, there are rules protecting against patronage hires to civil service positions; they aren't perfect, but the protections aren't one sided.

> If the president's predecessor hired a few million hostile partisans

Not gonna happen, since it would take not only an unprecedented politicization of hiring but also a President getting to fill half the current federal workforce.

> Is he just supposed to continue down that path, hiring tens of millions of his own partisans in order to win back control?

Uh, no, the President is not supposed to have partisan control of the federal civil service workforce.

> There needs to be a reasonable way to toss out the partisan troublemakers who are undermining the will of the voters.

If they aren't doing their legal duty competently, federal civil service workers can be fired for cause. Not being a partisan of the President, isn't cause, and that's a feature not a bug.

> Another troubling rule is that layoffs must be done according to seniority and veteran status, not performance.

I don't see that as troubling at all.

> The only reliable way to eliminate low-performing employees is to eliminate everybody in a given agency.

No, the reliable way is to set performance standards at the appropriate floor and then fire people who don't meet them for cause; civil service rules do allow for performance standards and do allow firing people who don't meet them. You know the practice of PIPs in private employment? That's directly modelled on what is required for performance-based termination in civil service employment.

Layoffs fill a different purpose.

It seems like the party of the administration is the one voting in favor of ending the shutdown?

[Edit: No long as clear cut. Now both parties are voting against each other's ending bills.


http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2019/roll049.xml ]

Shutdown would be over if McConnell was willing to vote.

Like they did yesterday?

It may work well to purge the civil service of those not loyal to Trump, but it will also work to purge the civil service of the most competent workers.

I was wondering if the gig economy firms are seeing an uptick. People driving Uber, dogwalking, food delivery, etc.

A fair few people don't have a lot of savings, as in will end up with no cash at all if they're not paid.

Even if you wanted to keep working for deferred pay, if you're in that situation you'd need to do something quite soon.

I suppose modern day loansharks are also having a great time.

Wouldn’t it just be vastly easier to take out a loan?

It's actually not that easy to take out a loan. Someone making minimum wage with a home to put up as collateral, even with perfect credit would probably only be able to take out $10,000 to $20,000. As others have mentioned, there are interest rates involved with the loan as well. It's less than a credit card, but a lot harder to get approval.

If the employees are currently paycheck to paycheck, and even considering a loan then chances are they would not be eligible for a loan.

How many loans and for how long? The president has already stated this may take months or years. Do you have a lender willing to lend you six months to two years worth of pay? Would you even be willing to take on that amount of debt on top of all of your other financial responsibilities?

I guess not that many loans

>Trump, Congress Reach Tentative Deal to Reopen Government for Three Weeks

I’m not even in the US, but my inbox has been flooded with emails from various financial institutions offering interest-free loans to government workers.

and pay interest? Or depending on your credit? taking out debt to continue working seems crazy to me.

"odd jobs"

Here is a question: How can al lthe employees of the IRS for a collective to say "fuck the IRS - here is a new way of doing things based on our inside knowledge"

Now - you may say "well thats a stupid thing to imagine"

But lets take it to the private sector: Imagine that Facebook stopped paying its employees - they have 1.5 billion customers to handle...

Don't you think the employees couldn't just walk away and say "let start a new thing based on the information we collectively know"

Certainly they could - but I imagine the average FB salary is much higher than the collective IRS salary...

but still - if you wanted to affect change in the world for decades to come - it could come from a giant group of IRS employees doing something that disrupts the opacity of taxes. (Fuck you H&R Block, BTW)

It's not really comparable to a private sector company. Anything the IRS employees formed by themselves would not have the authority to collect tax revenue on the behalf of the US government.

Sure, they could make something that would compete with Intuit and H&R Block, etc, but it wouldn't be the IRS, and we would still need the IRS.

Fun (maybe not applicable) fact here, but there is a huge history of privatizing tax collection. In fact, we coincidentally have that to thank for the foundation of logic and memory!

Pascal, as a teen, essentially invented the calculator (albeit a very slow version) for his father; the device was called a Pascaline [0], and he built it because his father was a "tax collector" in 17th century France.

In those days, tax collector meant that you would buy the right to collect 'x' in government taxes (and keep for yourself), for 'x - $discount', where $discount was the balance of 1) what the government believed was worth them avoiding collection themselves, 2) what the tax collector believed they could still reasonably profit from the difference of.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_calculator

I had no idea tax collecting was outsourced in 17th century France. For others interested, I found a little bit more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferme_g%C3%A9n%C3%A9rale#Tax_f...

I can't help but wonder what impact this is going to have years or decades in to the future.

The government has had a hard time as it is to keep positions filled as they are competing with better pay in the private sector. Who would ever want to work for the government if whether or not you're getting paid is constantly up in the air.

This could easily circumvented by passing the Stop STUPIDITY Act, which basically says if the government can’t pass a budget or continuing resolution in time, the government automatically adopts the previous year’s budget and suspends all pay for the legislative and executive branches until a new budget is passed.

Instead of using government workers keeping intact our very thin veneer between civilization and barbarity as bargaining chips at best and hostages at worst, the pain would fall squarely on the President and Congress.

> suspends all pay for the legislative and executive branches until a new budget is passed

That's a terrible idea. Not all lawmakers are independently wealthy. So the ones who actually need that salary to survive can effectively be told by the President or party leaders -- of either party -- "vote with us, or we have a shutdown and your family starves."

Looking at the net worth of people in Congress, they may be inconvenienced, but they wouldn’t starve if they didn’t receive their pay.


It'd be better, in my estimation, to adopt the system used by Commonwealth countries (iirc) wherein failing to pass a budget triggers elections for representatives. I'm dead sure if that were the case here we wouldn't have this problem.

Just be aware that the trigger for double dissolution can be exploited to bolster the government if they feel public sentiment is in their favour for the duration of the shutdown and election.

I think the act is more about protecting workers rather than punishing legislators.

It works sort of like this in Sweden (we just got a proper government after the election in September). It led to interesting things like some extra millions for celebrating Ingmar Bergman's 101 anniversary, carried over from the 100 year anniversary last year. But at least people got their salaries.

They should be barred from running again for office if a shutdown lasts more than 3 days.

Maybe, for the right wing, this situation is working out as intended. They want to starve the beast (government) into becoming as small as possible. Trying to show that things can go on just fine without much of the government, and reducing the attractiveness of government jobs, are all means to this end

Except things aren't going on just fine. There are huge consequences for everything from people who depend on HUD for housing to domestic violence shelters who depend on Justice Department grants to be able to afford diapers. New weather models haven't been published because the scientists creating them are furloughed. Air traffic control is impacted. Craft breweries can't release new beers because there's nobody to validate that they're safe. The list goes on and on. Imagine the things we're not seeing yet because the impacts will only be felt years later.

In fact if there's not already a gist of impacts from the government shutdown there should be one.

I do agree that they may be intentionally reducing the attractiveness of government jobs and decreasing the quality of government programs in an effort to shift more wealth to their already wealthy private sector buddies.

Things that many Republicans don't want their tax dollars going toward: 1. Poor people who are in need (those lazy people who are abusing welfare just need to get a job). 2. Weather models (global warming is a lie made up by liberals). 3. Air traffic control shouldn't require federal participation and should just be handled by private companies. (All that regulation just gets in the way of airline profits!) 4. Craft breweries should be able to release beers without having to go through months of red tape. (All that government regulation is hurting business owners!) 5. etc, etc...

Many Republicans actually love the idea of less regulation, so a government shutdown is great!

To many people with certain political leanings, that's just fine.

That's true. I took the original poster as meaning things appear to be just fine from a regular person's point of view rather than a libertarian extremist point of view.

I think this is exactly what is happening, and why the GOP senators are complicit with the shutdown.

Which is frustrating as its a self-fulfilling prophesy, treat people like shit, and when that department/gov agency doesn't work well blame it on vague big government rather than the fact you don't pay competitively and you ran out everyone who had talent. Government service should be honored, these people take a pay cut in most cases to keep OUR society running. I miss the days when public service was respected.

> Government service should be honored, these people take a pay cut in most cases to keep OUR society running.

Government "service" is just a job, and these people take a pay cut in exchange for job security (and in the cases I'm personally familiar with, fantastic health insurance).

The shutdown is nonsensical, expensive, and a pointless hardship for everyone affected, but there's no need to elevate government employees to sainthood.

Honor != sainthood. Like teaching and nursing, some people feel a calling to help, and are willing to make not-insignificant sacrifices to do so. They're not in it for the money and won't be transferring into fintech for better wages.

My partner is a "civil servant" and I see on a weekly basis how she is consistently overworked and undervalued. But she has a mission to improve our city's infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians, and you just can't do that effectively as an engineer outside of the public sector.

Well said, I am so tired of people like FeloniousHam who do not understand the work that goes into making society and civilization work. It is a calling and should take an honored place in society just like teachers, firemen, police, etc.

I called the IRS this week to try to resolve a long pending matter. Hold time was pretty bad, and I was told that at the time being, no progress could be made on the issue due to lack of staffing.

But I was utterly impressed at the courtesy and positive attitude of the employee who handled my call. I don't know if I could bring that much professionalism to my work if I hadn't been paid in a month.

Honest question: If someone who isn’t paid for a job “quits”, are they forgoing pay for when pay gets re-authorized? I ask because I feel as a country we are getting close to just accepting the shutdown can last forever. If that is the case, and since a large percentage of folks don’t even have $400 to ride out an emergency, what happens if they choose to say “enough is enough” and try to get a different job? Are they permanently out the pay they earned by working without pay?

I don't think they can forfeit the pay for the hours they worked. Employers are required by law to pay for all hours worked at the agreed upon rate. I assume if they quit they'd still be owed that pay and they'd get a check when the government re-opened.

Remember, this is the federal government and thus the government can change the laws through legislation or via presidential order.

Through legislation, yes. Presidential order, no. It is very, very unlikely that Congress would pass a law saying the government doesn't have to pay its employees like every other employer.

Even if they did, such a law would be unconstitutional because slavery is explicitly illegal under the 13th Amendment. They would have to amend the constitution to make that law work and something that wildly unpopular is not going to happen.

In fact Congress passed a law stating the opposite, that even Federal employees who are not required to work will receive back pay for the time the government was shutdown.

Adding to that... if they were "ordered" back to work, can they face any penalty by quitting? If so, it seems like a liability to be a federal employee in these times.

edit: typo

Legally workers must be paid for hours they worked.

The only people who might be leaving money on the table if they quit are those who were told not to work. They were promised back pay when they return, but it's unclear what would happen if they do not return.

It’s interesting to note that some credit card companies are allowing government employees carry extra balances and not pay them off during this shutdown. However, I do wonder if they will be charging interest on that balance. If not, then all is fine. If they are, well then this just adds to the total cost of the shutdown :/.

It's a feature, not a bug!

If the shutdown keeps going to an extended period of time, it will be interesting to see the long term effects of having a large amount of entrenched bureaucrats suddenly removed and replaced by new ones.

I think that in the future if this keeps going there will probably be noticeable policy differences and shifts in the bureaucracy after this. Definitely a point of history that people should look to for ripple effects later down the line.

This, I feel, is an underrated observation.

Critically think about the ripple effect of this situation:

1. It is clearly political shenanigans without a doubt, but;

2. Does this peal back the wool from the fact that, just maybe, we don't need this many government employees?

3. Reveals that senators who are both millionaires and still receiving pay, don't actually have your interests in mind

4. That taxes are wasted and a joke with respect to how they are implemented / allocated

5. that our security infrsastructure sold to us in the trillions is a 2-paycheck fragile sham (TSA) -- but the actual safety (Air Traffick Control) is in the same bucket?

6. That the media's only value is kvetching on the political bullshit of the literal moment (meaning: They teach nothing - only commentary)

7. the USA is a fealty based system beholden to literally a few hundred oligarchs

8. People have no recourse upstream.

9. People are apathetic to the entire display.

> 3. Reveals that senators who are both millionaires and still receiving pay, don't actually have your interests in mind

Senator Pay is $174k, which is less than senior developers around the tech world.

Your senior developer who frequents this site will make far more money than any Senator. The reason why Senators are millionares is because you need to be a millionare to even consider running for office (with all of the organization, ads, and stuff you need to buy...)

> Critically think about the ripple effect of this situation:

No. That's precisely WHY Republicans are shutting down the government. Because they want to push forward those viewpoints.

Its why Republicans are so happy to keep things shut down: the longer things are shut down, the more their point is proven ("That Government is inefficient").

Its a fundamental advantage Republicans have to shutdowns. Every shutdown "proves their point" innately.


Government workers make far less than their counterparts in the private world. A "Senator" is the leader of an entire State, but will make far less money than a typical executive at any ol company.

Want to know where all of our good leaders have gone? They've gone into corporate leadership. Any ol' executive position at any major company will make multiples over a Senator or House member's salary.

> Senator Pay is $174k, which is less than senior developers around the tech world.

Isn't this just a stipend to cover housing/food while drumming up kickbacks, insider trade information, or cushy post-office executive positions in many (unfortunate) cases?

not sure if we can necessarily rely on base pay as being an accurate measure of income related to being a senator..

I'm not sure how that's much different to any executive position.

Your typical executive will have a base pay well over 200k, and then get a contract kickback based on performance. I have my doubts that any Senator actually makes as much as say... a Microsoft Executive.

And that's like, minor executive level. If you're a 3-letter executive (CEO, CFO, etc. etc.), expect $million+ paychecks with stock compensations on top of that, based on performance. Consider the Sears CEO who destroyed the company, he's making millions extra in bonuses, with a golden parachute to land safely even as the company withers and dies.


He's got enough sense to wipe out his base pay to $1. But we all know that's a fake number anyway. In any case, the amount of money a Senator makes from their position or power is tiny in comparison to positions in private companies. The fact is: the US Government is not in the business of making money. They're in the business of providing essential services to the citizens (Military, Police, Post Office, etc. etc.), of which doesn't typically make a profit.

I don’t see #2. What it has shown is that “non-essential” government workers do things that don’t have immediate consequences (kind of obvious), and that “essential” workers still show up without being paid at least for a while. As it drags on, it’s also starting to show that what these people do is actually kind of important.

Replaced by new ones? Who's going to apply for a job with no prospect of getting paid, and where you'll be asked to perform not only your work but that of an increasing number of missing colleagues?

Agreed. Trump said that he would 'drain the swamp'[0], and I think this is one of the reasons why he's OK with the shutdown lasting indefinitely.

One of my friends said that DC has never experienced a recession. I hate how negative this sounds, but DC is finally realizing what happens when the largest employer in town suddenly closes. This is something that (pro-Trump) small town America has been having to deal with for at least the past 30 years.

[0] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/11/us/politics/trump-governm...

except it would have an opposite effect right ? wouldn't the really good people who can find another job leave and those that remain are not as good?

There needs to be some risk to being a public service employee. They practically cannot get fired. They should not get back-pay for government shutdown time they did not work. So, TSA agents, for example, absolutely should get back-pay (because they worked), but employees who got furloughed should not. And we should make it easier to fire public service employees for cause, and easier to downsize agencies (i.e., lay-off workers). Civil service protections need to be about politics, not so overarching that civil service employment carries zero risk.

The ability for a person to earn a fair living, especially one that's not an extravagant salary, should never have unnecessary risk. It's one thing to be laid off. It's another to be told you're working without pay or are not allowed to seek other employment while furloughed.

Surely they knew of this risk when they accepted the job offer?

US government shutdowns (especially extended ones) are rare events. This is not something most of them would have considered when signing on.

Even in the 90s and 00s with the DoD closing bases (BRAC), a lot of people were unimpacted or given job offers at other locations which mitigated the risk for most.

Government employees are, on the whole, underpaid for the sort of work they do compared to private sector equivalents (or where their expertise could be used if not the same job). The primary benefit has been the stability and pension system, both of which are being challenged in recent years.

> US government shutdowns (especially extended ones) are rare events

Sorry but no. I worked for the government for 9 years and went through four shutdowns. I'd hardly call that rare. On NPR this morning they were interviewing people who said the same thing (so it's not just me). I was also not one of the lucky ones that got furloughed. When I was there a lot of people loved shutdowns because it was free vacation time. They knew they'd get backpay. The only thing they couldn't do was go out of town since any day they could be called back.

> This is not something most of them would have considered when signing on.


> Government employees are, on the whole, underpaid for the sort of work they do compared to private sector equivalents (or where their expertise could be used if not the same job). The primary benefit has been the stability and pension system, both of which are being challenged in recent years.

Debatable. The government is a huge industry, and over-generalizing like that is impossible to do while maintaining any level of accuracy. Remember to include benefits as well as paycheck in your analysis.

This one is extremely long, though. It’s the longest on record and still getting longer, so it’s not something people would have anticipated. I can see how someone would enjoy a few days off of work, maybe even a week or two. But going a month or more without pay is quite a different matter.

Yes, I agree. It's really crappy. I'd be in deep trouble if I went this long without getting paid, so I can relate very well. But do note that I was responding to this:

> US government shutdowns ... are rare events

not making an argument that people should have expected this (because I don't believe that. In fact I specifically agreed with that portion of the OP)

There are also resources available for people that can't go this long without a paycheck, that should help somewhat alleviate the pain [1].

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/18/here-are-the-banks-and-credi...

Yes, indeed, missing even one pay cycle can be very hard for many people. For furloughed workers the shutdown is paid vacation with deferred pay (they always get paid for that time off); they can actually get second jobs during that time. It's the essential employees that this whole thing is most unfair to.

They often can't get jobs directly in the same career field without approval due to conflict of interest concerns. Approval which they presently can't get. For laborers this isn't necessarily a problem, but for knowledge workers this precludes a lot of opportunities to make up the lost income.

(Technically, all outside employment by a federal employee has to be approved by their office to ensure there's no conflict and that it won't impact the quality of the work.)

And deferred pay, after 2 missed paychecks, doesn't help much. This paycheck is February's rent for many of them. Good luck in a week if they can't negotiate with their bank or landlord.

Historically rare. There have been 10 shutdowns in the history of the US government (there have been other funding gaps, but none of those had furloughed employees). 3 of those shutdowns in this decade. 4 in the 80s and 3 in the 90s. The shutdowns in the 80s were one day each. The 90s were 3, 5, and 21 days each.

Have some empathy for goodness sakes.

A lot of us (myself included), might work in startups and take big risks in our careers, but we're also exposed to a lot more upside. Not every other job should be like this, and lots of people don't want to work in such uncertain situations. These people thought they had a job that was largely safe, and that implicit promise has been broken.

The risk of not getting paid due to the longest government shutdown ever? No, I don’t think many people would have considered that risk.

What would indicate to, say, a scientist taking a job earning a modest salary that they would be unable to earn a paycheck for over a month?

The fact that shutdowns happen.

This is literally a historic shutdown. Two missed paychecks in a single shutdown has never happened before in the history of the USA.

This is the longest running shutdown in US History, and it isn't anywhere close to over yet.

Yet there is no precedent for this. Nor should there be.

I would be entirely unsurprised if this caused many professionals to leave public service, since the risk of not being able to make rent is now known. Why would anyone knowingly take a job that could suddenly and unexpectedly stop paying them a salary for unreasonable periods of time?

They did not. IRS jobs are not "essential" within the meaning of the rules requiring certain governmental personnel to work during shutdowns.

In a nutshell and highly simplified, but "essential" in the shutdown context means national security and transportation. It doesn't include functions that are nice to have, like quick processing of refunds.

Given that this shutdown has already set an all-time duration record, that's probably not fair to say.

Private sector employees carry the risk of being fired or laid off. I don't see why public sector employees should not. They should have some protections from political firings, but that's it.

Salary levels have nothing to do with it. Perhaps they might have to be higher if public sector employees had to have this risk, or perhaps there would be fewer people willing to work in the public sector (a win, that).

And again, if you hard to work w/o pay, you should get back-pay. This is only about furloughed employees.

This comment and the one above have bits that are clearly just snipes at public employees and the federal government.

> They practically cannot get fired.

> or perhaps there would be fewer people willing to work in the public sector (a win, that).

If you disagree with the size of our federal government on a political level that's no excuse to disrespect the people who work in it. Everybody is working for a pay check the virtues of the federal government have nothing to do with whether some people deserve to get what they negotiated for when they accepted a position.

Where is the disrespect?

Getting back pay isn't sufficient (and not guaranteed). If you have a job, you should get paid. Full stop. Being a government job shouldn't mean you can't pay your bills. Back pay doesn't stop you from becoming homeless.

Public sector employees take the risk of being fired by an administration who decides that unit isn't a priority.

Salary levels do determine risk - if you want someone to do a riskier job, you generally have to pay more - obviously there are a large number of other factors.

> Public sector employees take the risk of being fired by an administration who decides that unit isn't a priority.

They mostly don't, both because the Administration has limited legal and even more limited practical political ability to do that, and because civil service rules further mitigate that risk with noncompetitive reinstatement eligibility.

They do take the risk that the political branches together decide a function is unnecessary, mitigated somewhat by civil service reinstatement rules.

> Public sector employees take the risk of being fired by an administration who decides that unit isn't a priority.

Never happens.

They can be fired and laid off just like everyone else.

The difference is they work for the oldest, singularly largest organization in the country and should, as part of that, expect some job stability.

The pay is usually marginal compared to private sector. The advantage you usually get is the government won't go bankrupt or get bought up and downsized.

Government employees are paid much MUCH less than their counterparts. The tacit agreement is that they get paid less but have more stability.

Any NASA Aerospace engineer will make more at Lockheed Martin or Northrop Grumman. Its just the facts. Missiles and Weapons make more money than generic US Space research, even if one is more fundamentally important to the advancement of our civilization. Any IRS Tax-expert will make more money as an Corporate Accountant (who are paid to avoid taxes, instead of applying them fairly across the country).

Most HN people work in a field where getting a new job is pretty trivial if you lose your current one - I've had job searches that have lasted as little as a few days (when I moved internationally), but most people are not in this situation. These workers are being denied an expected income - some of them are indeed not working for this income but they've been denied the ability to work for it.

Everyone, even people who were allowed to seek separate work, should be paid their expected wage - this would even inject a bit of consumer power into our economy and might help reduce the long term effects this is having.

Is it not the case in the US, that public sector employees tend to be paid less, in exchange for other things like job security, pensions etc?

That depends very highly on the particular job.

Professional employees (lawyers, accountants, scientists) make less in government (usually much less), but non-professional employees usually make more in government.

How are you defining "professional" in this context?

There's a classical sense of professional it seems you're reaching for, but I'm having a hard time thinking of a non-professional white-collar worker which would do better in federal government than the private sector.

Eg, surveyors are clearly professionals. Software developers? IT?

Software engineers, IT, EE, ME, tend to be paid significantly less than they would make outside of gov service. This of course varies a bit by level, but it's generally true.

No, they tend to be just paid less, period. They pay and benefits is WAY better in the private sector, and job security is only partially true.

This comment has been downvoted but I wanted to highlight that it is quite correct, people actually working in the public sector tend to be paid poorly compared to similar private sector jobs, this is a bit of a new trend where the previous generation in the US was more familiar with public sector jobs being good paying reliable jobs that could help secure a family into the middle income bracket but that time has passed.

I am excluding, by the way, private contractors working in the public sector which tend to be grossly over paid but lack any sort of pension benefits.

Why do you think there should just inherently be some risk?

Because in life there is always risk. In this case offloaded to the taxpayer completely.

Life always has risk in it. If they have risk-free jobs, that means someone else is shouldering the burden of the resources expended to make that job risk-free. Said someone else is probably doing it without a risk-free job of their own. Is that fair?

There'll be the temptation to muddy the waters with all sorts of things, like "how important" the government worker's work is. (The taxpayer's job can be perfectly well important too. You want to live without garbage collectors?) But that's all distractions. What right do they have to have such low-risk ("risk-free" is really not true, but there is certainly a qualitatively different degree of risk) jobs at the expense of people without such low-risk jobs?

Life isn't fair. If your job isn't risk free, you should be petitioning for unions and other labor protections, not dragging down those who do have those benefits.

This is no different then when the minimum wage rises, and people who were making what is now the new minimum wage complain that they're underpaid now. They were underpaid before, it's just more obvious to them after the policy change.

Don't be the crab pulling other crabs back into the pot. Help the other crabs get out, and consequently, helping you get out.

> What right do they have to have such low-risk jobs at the expense of people ...

Wow, if this isn't straight-up communism, I don't know what is.

1/ What will be the impact for US economy? Are we already see any economic impact?

2/ Are people who showed up at work will get paid for those past weeks?

The economic impact started when the shutdown began and furloughed employees stopped their discretionary spending because they had no idea how long they would have to stretch out that last pay check and life savings.

By the time the effects of the economic downturn are visible (such as airports cancelling flights because they have insufficient traffic control), you can expect that the damage done will take years to unwind.

Just because you get back pay in a month or two doesn't mean you return to the previous level of discretionary spending immediately. You are now a consumer with lack of confidence in the economy. You don't know when the next Presidential tantrum is going to shut down the government.

This will affect all the services that government employees used on a daily basis: cafes, restaurants, laundromats, house cleaning, gardeners, etc.

Consumer confidence may not return till long after this president is ejected, assuming the USA actually has any more presidential elections and the Tumpists don't just take over the country.

> Are people who showed up at work will get paid for those past weeks?

Employees of the federal government will get back pay, at least according to the NYT and others. However, they aren’t currently eligible to collect any sort of unemployment (because they’re technically “working”), and contractors who work with the government aren’t guaranteed back pay.

Even government employees who don't show up for work will get back pay. Hence the high number of no-shows.

This is how systemic failure happens. If things keep going like this restarting the government won't fix it.

I felt that there was this un-mentioned argument for the shutdown that it would only affect the first quarter of this year and then everything will be back to normal. To me, it is getting harder to believe that.

I don't think it will affect just the first quarter. Our whole team is flying for business to NYC next week and flights have been delayed and some cancelled.

We are now thinking of carpooling and driving down or cancelling the event and this is just our startup. It will be impossible to quantify the damage done by this shutdown.

I read about a half dozen news articles including from CNN, NBC, and Washington Post on this.

None of them make clear the fact that these workers will receive back pay after the shutdown whether they work or not.

The IRS.gov has a FAQ site [1] which says that they will get back pay, and they will have to repay any unemployment benefits taken when that happens, even if they claim a hardship exemption.

This to me changes the story. Claim the exemption and you can work in the gig economy and get paid twice. Or go back to work and wait to get paid when the shutdown is over. I can see why so many are choosing to claim the exemption.

[1] - https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/employee-frequently-asked-quest...

That they will receive backpay has been settled (signed law) for about 10 days now and made headlines on all those sites.

The top comment here is “Good for them! Working without pay is completely nonsensical.”

But that’s literally not what’s happened. The choice was get paid vacation or come into work. Either way they will be paid.

Any article that states the work is unpaid, without clarifying the work will be paid but late, is factually incorrect and misleading. And that’s most of them.

Seeing what republicans and democrats are doing to this country, i wonder if voters will start to consider alternative parties now.

Well there's certainly a very strong argument to reform the system of voting: switch to some form of preferential voting and remove the electoral college.

Then you might see people voting for a third party because their vote isn't automatically wasted.

Nah. The vast majority will blame the party they dislike. A few in the middle may switch which party they dislike for a while.

This shutdown started when the Republicans controlled all 4 chambers of government (The house, the senate, the presidency, and the judiciary).

There's plenty of both sides blame that you can assign for various problems in the country, but this is not one of them, and it is incredibly disingenuous to do so.

You could mostly just get rid of Mitch Mconnel and Trump and most of the really bad stuff of late would be resolved.

You could mostly just get rid of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and most of the really bad stuff of late would be resolved. /s

Hrm, if only the republicans could control all three branches of the government, surely they'd be able to allocate funds if that were the case?

I suspect that a lot of republican higher ups specifically avoided funding the border wall until they lost control of the house so they could manufacture this crisis (especially as the potential to fund the border wall was offered by democrats earlier and declined by republicans, and the senate passed a "just keep it open" bill before going on winter recess).

There is control, and then there is control. In the previous senate, less than half of the senators would reliably vote as republicans.

Yea I know, those ones tended to vote with Trump sometimes!

In all serious I don't know if this was meant as sarcasm but party cohesion in the republican party is quite high, it's one of the reasons the republican minority was effective against Obama - senators would freely discard logic to toe the party line.

When the majority is only 51 to 49, "quite high" doesn't cut it. Even with the VP to break ties, it only takes two defectors to lose. Commonly there were three defectors.

ah that's a nice false equivalence.

I wonder if the historical unpopularity of the IRS will change after this shutdown.

After 10 days without pay they can walk as per loss of their liberty and property interests under https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goss_v._Lopez and the 13th Amendment.

Workaround: Use conscripts.

Actually my family (rather liberal) were discussing over the winter break that it wouldn't be terrible to see a WPA sort of resolution to this wall business, using hired unskilled labour under the direction of the army corps of engineers would likely give our economy a nice booster shot.


I want to clarify something:

> But let me assure that the various law enforcement agencies are still very fully funded, and ready to arrest you if you try to steal bread to eat.

Local law enforcement, yes. Because they may use federal dollars but aren't wholly reliant on them.

But federal law enforcement is not getting paid right now. The military is, and DoD civilians. But Homeland Security did not receive a funding bill last fall so they're going unpaid.

So what you are saying is Trump is risking the countries security for a wall.

He doesn't want the wall, he wants to deport people protected by DACA.

Yes. Trump is literally risking the security of the country for a wall (and only a downpayment on the wall).

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