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Why Pay Furloughed Workers?

This may seem like sacrilege for someone who works in the Washington D.C. area, but while so many of my neighbors and friends are celebrating the rare bipartisan unanimity to pay furloughed workers once the government shutdown is over, I just don’t get it.

I understand the difficulty the shutdown has imposed upon those whose family incomes rely on government jobs, but paying back wages makes no sense. The whole reason for the shutdown is that the United States government does not have the money to pay “non-essential” workers since there is no budget and no continuing resolution. If those same workers are promised their pay retroactively once this ends, then in effect the government is promising inconvenience without any fiscal upside. If the taxpayers at least saved some money, that would offset the minor inconveniences so far wrought. At the same time, it reflects poorly on the mindset of Washington: government jobs are treated as yet one more entitlement and pay should flow even when the job remains undone.

Certainly, families might wring their hands at the dysfunction of Washington, but there are few skill sets for which the government hires non-essentials for which there aren’t jobs in the private sector, even if the private sector often demands better performance and more efficiency than does the government.

Simply put, there should be no pay for no work, not pay regardless of work.



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