Government Shutdown on the Ant Hill
Like ants scattered and desperate in response to the disruption of their long-standing, carefully constructed ant hill, America and the world has already felt the impact of the government shutdown. It is terrible for the fragile economy. Businesses and individuals across the country are left asking: how will the shut-down effect all of us? It’s difficult to say how this conflict will shake out. However, history and educated projections can suggest likely repercussions until agreements can be reached.
Potential Impacts of the Government Shutdown
- Even if it remains brief, this event will put about a million federal employees out of work; that is enough to undo the last six months of job growth in the private sector.
- If it lasts up to a month, it will reduce real GDP by an estimated 1.4 percentage points in the fourth quarter, while a two-month shutdown would put the economy back into recession. Historically, the last recession drove 2.7 million children into poverty.
- The shutdown could immediately cut an estimated 19,000 Head Start and Early Head Start spots across 10 states.
- The effects of the shutdown would compound the billions of dollars in sequestration cuts that affected programs for students with disabilities and disadvantaged students and early childhood education services for low-income children.
- If the shutdown lasts more than 10 days, more than 2 million military service members could see their pay delayed.
- Half the civilian workforce in the Department of Defense would be furloughed without pay and the other half would have to work for delayed pay.
- Nearly 9 million pregnant women, recent mothers, and young children could lose clinical services and food benefits.
- More than 400 national parks, museums and zoos will close down.
- Almost 6 million small businesses would see financial support delayed with small business loan programs being shut down.
- More than 800,000 federal government employees could be furloughed without pay.
- Educational, compensation, and pension benefits for hundreds of thousands of veterans could be delayed.
- Applications for new Social Security benefits would be delayed and services for seniors significantly delayed as workers are furloughed.
- If the government is shut down for the same length of time as it was in the mid-1990s, the cost for taxpayers would be about $2 billion.
These are scary numbers and disheartening projections. Even with the potential consequences listed out, the question still remains: where do we go from here? The realistic answer: it’s time to be Temnothorax Ants. Their behavior is admirable and certainly worth emulation. Ask Nature explains “A single leader teaches one follower the route to important resources such as sources of food or better nest sites.” Like the Temothorax Ants, each person has an opportunity to offer encouragement, support and guidance to neighbors who need it. Until the tampering of the ant hill stops, American citizens have an opportunity to come together and support each other; to prove the ants will carry on bravely.