“It used to be thought that the events that changed the world were things like bombs, maniac terrorists, huge earthquakes, or vast population movements, but it has now been realized that this is a very old-fashioned view. The things that really change the world, according to Chaos theory, are the tiny things.
A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazonian jungle, and subsequently a storm ravages half of Europe.” `
― Neil Gaiman, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
True, or not; the cataclysmic effect wrought by the flapping of a butterfly’s wings has caught the imagination of many; underlining it with just that tinge of horror. So where does the current shutdown of the government fit in all of this? Some think it’s a stunt that will last no more than a few days. After all, our politicians pulled the same stunt a short while ago, all was settled quickly and the world didn’t come to an end. But was that first action the flapping of the butterfly’s wings? What impact did it have on consumer confidence in the economy and in the government? Did consumer reluctance lead to a reduction in the creation of jobs? Did it alter the attitudes of the workforce in terms of engagement and loyalty? It is too soon to estimate the possible outcomes of the move, its costs, its impact on the already fragile economy and the plight of the furloughed federal employees who will have to feed their families and meet their mortgage payments.
About 1 million federal employees look at paychecks being withheld for the indefinite future. If there is anything worse than a shutdown, it could be the uncertainty of its possible duration! 94% of environmental protection forces will be furloughed as well as 87% of commerce, 80% of treasury, 50% of defense and 15% of justice. 97% of NASA’s 18,134 workers also are being furloughed! What happens to the companies which provide services to the government, and depend upon the income to pay their own employees?
These are definitely troubled waters!
But, private employers can actually fish in them to lure away talented workers disturbed by the uncertainty of their prestigious and ‘stable’ federal jobs. In particular, individuals with STEM skills or healthcare professionals will be targeted. No employer who leaves their workers in such uncertainty should expect to have them willing and on standby to rejoin work. Depending on the duration of the shutdown, individuals will increasingly consider contract positions to “tide them over” and may then elect to not return to a government position. It really makes me wonder what the private employers are waiting for!
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