Not exactly a carefree time

Furloughs during shutdown are time off for government's bad behavior

There isn’t a lot of sympathy, at least online, for federal workers furloughed by the government shutdown.

“I might miss my trip to Italy. Boo-Hoo,” one commenter at AugustaChronicle.com mocked one area worker for lamenting in a news story.

“I suppose the financial hardship must not be too terrible if he is ‘arranging to have his house exterior painted,’ ” another commented under the story – while noting that these government workers apparently get to roll over much more vacation time than most private companies would allow.

Normally we’d be with the critics. Government workers are usually pretty insulated from the unfeeling undulations of the private sector. Their benefits are often much more generous, their retirements more secure and predictable.

But even though it’s likely most furloughed workers will receive full back pay, this shutdown is much more than a free, paid vacation. It’s forced. It’s requiring them to either empty out their vacation bucket or take no pay at all until the shutdown is resolved.

How many of us would jump to have that deal? How many of us could afford to? To take “paid vacation,” on someone else’s schedule, when the pay doesn’t flow for perhaps weeks?

Many folks live paycheck to paycheck these days. Even with the benefit of time off and back pay, how many can do without a paycheck, and for how long?

If any of our friends and neighbors who work at Savannah River Site and elsewhere in the federal system are having trouble with cash flow, let’s hope area businesses can cut them a little slack.

In the meantime, members of Congress ought to go unpaid as well until this thing is fixed.

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