We all lost during shutdown
It’s a relief that a short-term resolution to the budget crisis was reached last week. It would have been far better to have solved the problem. The idea of the U.S. defaulting on our debt is unthinkable, unimaginable and, yet, almost happened. Why did Congress so resist what all of us do regularly—compromise! It’s ridiculous and tragic that it took 16 days to arrive at that point. The consequences of the shutdown reached across the country and the world. Dedicated government employees operated in the ambiguity of not knowing when they’d be recalled or if and when they’d be paid. These were people who wanted to go to work to serve the missions of NIH, CDC and other organizations. Yet, they were denied the opportunity. Then, when a deal was reached at 12:30 a.m., they were told to report to work that day. From what I observed, they did so with surprisingly few complaints. Government people take a lot of unfair criticism. Having been one of them, it’s not hard for me to see the world through their eyes.
During the shutdown, millions of people lost out on services they desperately needed, including free or subsidized meals for children. Our School was on the brink of having to pay salaries of people covered on some active grants that had been stopped by the shutdown. The strategy of planning to shut down government was mean-spirited, cynical and doomed.
Last week, a number of us traveled to Charlotte to kick off the 75th anniversary of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health at the Levine Museum of the New South. It was a joyful event; we met so many wonderful alumni of whom we are so proud. This week, we’re on to Atlanta.
Happy Monday! Barbara