Letters: ‘He Has Been Going to Work Every Day, Not Knowing When He Is Going to Get Paid.’

We asked readers of The Atlantic Daily to tell us about how the U.S. government shutdown has impacted them or others they know.

Jane Ross / Reuters

We Asked Readers:

Have you or others you know been impacted by the shutdown?

Here’s how readers responded.

We have two family members who are government employees—they are a family of four with one on the way. Not only have they been working with no pay, but they also need day care for two children. This is an abuse of power on the part of the president! The man has no empathy and no conscience. He is a disgrace to his office.

Linda Castriota
Stamford, Conn.

I live on Plum Island, Massachusetts. Most of the island is a national wildlife refuge (Parker River National Wildlife Refuge). Rangers were a common site before the shutdown—controlling traffic, keeping visitors away from sensitive areas, and doing repairs to rotting, collapsing boardwalks. Now none can be seen and people pretty much have the run of the place. Most people are careful and respectful, but there are others who are not.

This is an inconvenience compared to some of the pictures I have seen of our parks. I am fearful of the harm that might be caused to these national treasures.

Donald Milotte
Newburyport, Mass.

My husband is a Customs and Border Protection canine officer at Logan Airport in Boston. He has been going to work every day, not knowing when he is going to get paid. He had scheduled “use or lose” vacation during the week of Christmas, and had to go to work because all vacations were cancelled. At the same time, my mother was at the end of her life in a hospital in New Hampshire, but he was forced to go to work. We are now planning her funeral and we don’t know when he is going to get paid. People have offered us help, but my husband is not the kind to take help from others. He is the one who always is there to help others when they are in need. He is proud of the work that he does, the paycheck that he brings home, and the family that he supports. He has never been late paying a bill in his life. He doesn’t want help from strangers, he just wants to do his job and get paid. These aren’t the people who should be the pawns in this ridiculous game that both sides of the government are playing. I am a Democrat, but I’m not very proud of my party right now either. Just come up with a compromise, please. And, by the way, a wall is not the only answer. The answer is a combination of multiple things, including a wall structure, updated technology, enforcement to track down people overstaying their visas, more officers, etc.

Elizabeth Casey
New London, N.H.

I live in Boise, Idaho, am on the geosciences faculty at Boise State University, and have been observing the impacts of this shutdown both directly and indirectly on our region.

Many of our geosciences graduates, both at the bachelor’s and graduate levels, work for federal agencies in the West. In Boise, where the economy is diverse and robust, it’s not easy to identify the direct impact, but in small communities across the state where the federal government (Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service) is a major employer, the impact can be profound. I know of several graduates in situations where either they are the primary earners in the family in a small town, or both they and their spouse/partner work for the federal government. Both situations are having a dire impact on people’s personal finances, as well as the community’s economy that depends on their income.

At the university level, as a research institution we rely on federal funds from the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, and other agencies to support our research and recruit and support our graduate students. While our funding of existing grants is not currently in danger, the approval and processing of previously approved or new proposals is stopped, and work on those projects cannot proceed. This means we can’t recruit staff and students to work, and often opportunities for gathering time-critical data pass by as a lost opportunity. We also are finding it difficult to get data from many federal websites—our department relies on current SNOTEL data and, while there are a few automated stations reporting, much of the data relies on manual collection and reporting on the Natural Resources Conservation Service websites. For our research and for water managers in the western states, these data are critical to model and predict spring supply.

David Wilkins
Boise, Idaho

My 90-year-old father-in-law voted for Trump. Voted GOP for decades. He’s also a retired civil servant.

He’s now mad at Trump because of the shutdown.

If Trump has lost my father-in-law, Trump’s overplayed this hand badly.

John W. Tilford
Bloomington, Ind.