Today marks the 55th birthday of NASA—a pioneering, inspiring organization that was once America's proudest symbol of our nation's ingenuity, imagination, knowledge, and determination.
Today's also the day that 97 percent of NASA's employees have been furloughed. INCLUDING THE ONES WHO KEEP TRACK OF HORRIFYING, EARTH-DESTROYING ASTEROIDS. Remember Deep Impact? No, of course not. Um, remember Armageddon? Yeah! Thanks to the government shutdown, shit's about to get like that.
Okay, maybe not that bad. But bad. Well, except for members of Congress. They'll be cool.
Furloughed government employees will qualify for unemployment benefits, but otherwise they’ll be on their own. Meanwhile, the people actually responsible for the shutdown—members of Congress—will continue to draw their $174,000 annual salary. (Via.)
MSNBC keeps coming with the hits. Read the whole piece, but here's the part that should stab you right in your bleeding heart:
Federal employees have already had their pay frozen for the past three years. In addition, many of them have been furloughed without pay or received a salary cut as their employers have struggled to adjust to across-the-board sequestration cuts. (Via.)
Oof. Okay. So how did this shit happen?
The short version is that Republicans hate Obamacare—which, just so we're clear, was passed years ago—sooooo much that they were willing to shut down the government just to make sure everybody knows how much they hate it. (Sooooo much.) The New York Times has a graph showing the federal workers who're paying for this stunt, while ThinkProgress looks at the economic effects, both long- and short-term, that will result. (Props to the Times for pointing out that Americans stuck on the International Space Station have to report for work today. Hey, here's something fun: Look how many Americans are currently on the ISS!)
While Speaker of the House John Boehner is straight-up lying about what happened, NPR is asking who the two Republicans were who crossed party lines. Nice work on having some common sense, Peter King of New York and Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania! (It should be noted that there were also four Republicans who voted against the shutdown because they apparently felt it wasn't unreasonable enough, because holy shit the House is a fucking joke. Nice to see you again, Michele Bachmann! Thanks for sticking around and continue to flail furiously!)
Okay, so this turned into less of a post about what the shutdown will mean for you, and more of "a bunch of links you can read if you want to see how and why America is so phenomenally, distressingly broken." Sorry! Let's get back to how this matters for YOU, at least if you're uninsured: All this fucking bullshit? All this shutting down, all this stubborn posturing, all these deadly asteroids that now we don't even know about? None of those things stopped the fact that Obamacare is up and running.
The whole reason this shutdown exists is a health care system that isn't great, but is better than the system we've had for a while. And yet: There's a danger that young Americans—the very group that Obamacare should help, the very group that helped elect Obama in the first place—might fuck it all up by not enrolling in high enough numbers.
Which would be awful. You might be young and healthy now; an hour from now, you also might get hit by
a truck an asteroid. Shit inevitably happens, even to young people. There's a personal responsibility inherent in having insurance (take care of yourself, please, so the rest of us don't have to pay for your broke ass when you get sick), but part of the reason Republicans hate Obamacare so much is because by its very nature, it embraces a larger, social responsibility. Health care for everybody only works when everybody goes along with it. Yes, Washington is fucked, and yes, Obamacare is a pale, sad shadow of health care systems that other, smarter, less tantrum-prone countries have had for decades. But it's what we've got, and it's been ridiculously hard-won. If all this bureaucratic bullshit has a silver lining, the fact that Obamacare is up and running is it.
Here you go. Don't fuck it up.