Friday, July 1, 2011

So Long, Emergency Fund

As a general rule, I don't use this space to talk politics, but it would be dishonest to write a regular post when my family is being acutely affected by the current political situation here in Minnesota. Today the Minnesota state government shut down because the legislature and the governor failed to negotiate a budget before the end of the fiscal year yesterday. Josh is a state worker, and is indefinitely out of work because of this impasse. Because our elected officials failed to do their jobs, state workers in Minnesota are now victims of the largest lay off in state history. If this goes on long enough, the ripple effect will go beyond the tens of thousands of families that rely on public sector jobs , including layoffs in private sector construction projects and non-profits that won't get their grant payments.

Even as I write this, I know that we are in a better situation than a lot of people who will be affected by the shutdown. I am grateful that we have an emergency fund even if it's a shame to watch it spent down because of an ideology that sees compromise as weakness. I am grateful to have Josh at home to enjoy the summer with the rest of us. I am grateful that we both are highly employable even in this job market. I am grateful that at least for a while, we'll have unemployment benefits and health insurance. I am grateful for our safety net of family and friends. See, life takes many different sources of support to make it work. No one does it alone.

Some people feel that government is at best irrelevant, and at worst the enemy that must be stripped down to nothing. To them I ask the questions: in what other arena do we have the opportunity to create a collective expression of our values across differing view points and diverse backgrounds? Where else do such a large number of people have a voice and an investment in making things work for everybody?

Apparently we are so divided now that we are incapable of doing anything together. If that's the case, then what is the future for our communities and our country if we refuse to work collectively for the things that tie us together?

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