Source: United Liberty
The total cost of a government shutdown is astronomical and unaccountable - since the government is a complex machine. Although, in the brief post below, I would like to introduce two areas in which the shutdown could have an enormous and unknown impact. Again, the post below is part of the 'Thoughts' series to inspire thought-provoking ideas about the world around us. With that in mind, lets explore the two examples of how a government shutdown indirectly affect the American people.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for the generation and safety of food for the American public -- along with the Food and Drug Agency. This morning, the following excerpt arrived in my e-mail box regarding the government shutdown and these two federal agencies from 'Politico':
Not all of USDA's divisions detail what percentage of their workforce will be furloughed, but many, like rural development, will operate with a skeleton crew - albeit a slightly beefier one than when the government shut down in 2013.Essential personnel: The Food Safety and Inspection Service will have most employees working in order to help meat and poultry plants continue operating. The USDA outlined a few more details on which functions will continue at various agencies on its website.The FDA, on the other hand, will stop conducting routine food facility inspections and will be unable to support some of its import monitoring, according to a contingency plan posted by the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency will step in should there be any high-risk recalls.
Typically, people do not think that such a government shutdown would or could potentially affect the quality of 'food production' in the United States. The reality of the situation is that a government shutdown has far reaching implications which are not clearly defined. Food safety is one such example. It is critical to have federal inspectors present at each processing facility to ensure that corporations are adhering to safe practices and not introducing harm (poisonous bacteria) into our food supply.
According to the USDA website, the following measures will be taken during a government shutdown to ensure safety:
Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS):
In the event of a lapse in appropriation – among other duties listed HERE (PDF, 368 KB) – FSIS will continue work to:
-- Ensure meat, poultry, and egg products are safe and prevent the movement or sale in commerce of any meat or poultry products which are adulterated;
-- Inspect before and after slaughter those birds and animals intended for use as food for humans and inspect the further processing of meat and poultry products;
-- Apply foreign governments’ inspection requirements and procedures to verify that products exported from the United States are safe;
-- Conduct emergency operations in connection with the voluntary recall of meat or poultry products determined to be adulterated or misbranded;
-- Conduct epidemiological investigations based on reports of food-borne health hazards and disease outbreaks;
-- Monitor allied industries to prevent uninspected, misbranded, or adulterated meat, poultry and egg products from illegally entering channels of commerce;
-- Provide pathological, microbiological, chemical, and other scientific examination of meat, poultry and egg products for disease, infection, contamination, or other types of adulteration;
-- Conduct a microbiological monitoring and surveillance program;
The webpage also details other crucial areas of inspection need: Animal and Plant Inspection and Human Health Services, Risk Management Agency, Food Nutrition Services, etc. The wide range of areas of need for special attention during a government shutdown show the complexity involved in such an affair. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the entire government is running smoothly and has the proper momentum to ensure the services to the nation to which it provides services.
Along with a whole host of services offered by the government (Veterans Affairs, Social Security, U.S. Postal Services, etc.), a much larger scope is affected by a government shutdown. As mentioned above, critical services to ensure safety to the nation's food and natural resources supply are needed.
In addition to crucial services offered to the nation to keep the day to day activities running, the health sector is affected in indirect ways along with the research sector which is funded by the government. Here is an excerpt from an article appearing today on the website 'The Scientist' titled "As Government Suspends Operations, Science Projects Go on Hold" offering potential issues affecting science research and the health of our nation:
Fauci described the state of his department as a “scramble” on Friday, as scientists had to make decisions about the fate of their experiments, not knowing how long the shutdown would last. “You can’t push the pause button on an experiment when you inject an animal with a particular substance to see what the response is and then you have to go home for a week, two weeks, three weeks,” Fauci said. “It’s really quite disruptive to the science, number one. And number two, it’s very demoralizing to the people that they have to stop what they’re doing.”Over the weekend, there was confusion about whether employees at federal agencies should show up for work today. Science reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for instance, told everyone to come in, yet its contingency plan states otherwise. Nature notes that EPA’s Office of Research and Development will put a hold on experiments. “Staff will be allowed to come in and feed the fish, but they cannot take the measurements for the scientists,” Lesley Mills, an EPA biologist in Narragansett, Rhode Island, tells Nature. “People are going to be upset.”Nature spoke with crop researcher Chad Hayes at the US Department of Agriculture whose travel to Mexico today—timed to coincide with a brief window of sorghum pollination—could be disrupted, along with a year’s worth of work.According to Vox, half of the Department of Health and Human Services staff will not work during the shutdown. That means that, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will continue to monitor this year’s high flu activity, reports might take on a sluggish pace.“Under a shutdown, CDC’s capacity to track and respond to disease outbreaks will be impacted,” a CDC spokesperson tells Buzzfeed News. “Flu surveillance, for example, will continue to collect data being reported by states, hospitals, etc. However, our staff resources are limited, which means it will take longer to review, analyze, and report out information needed for public health action.”
Research which is funded by the United States government is conducted in all parts of the world for a variety of reasons which I will not go into at this time. The point is that halting research has far reaching implications. Especially, in a seasonal or a year long research trial where daily (routine) care and management on the part of government employees can drastically affect research results. If you are conducting a test on food production where the source of an issue might reside with an fruit orchard, then pollination times are critical.
Not to mention, if the research is tracking flu developments as mentioned in the excerpt above for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Missing critical data collection on the flu over the course of a government shutdown could alter the statistics of a flu season. Which could have downstream adverse effects on the success or failure of a given flu vaccination in a season.
At the moment, the Senate is voting on to fund the government (i.e. re-open the government). Regardless of the success or failure of the vote, the American people should have an idea of the 'totality' of such a disruption to their daily lives. In some cases (i.e. food inspection services), the implications of shutting down government services could be large. Not to mention, disrupting the collection or dispersion of flu vaccination data (and/or treatment).
The government was not designed to shutdown. Therefore, any efforts to ensure that there are no disruptions in the federal process are encouraged. Furthermore, each of us should write and/or call our elected representatives and demand that in the future, a shutdown be averted with the highest priority. Until next time, have a great day.
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