It's incredibly tedious but inevitable: whenever the government shuts down, federal employees whine about their pay being delayed for a week or so. And the more prominent and better-paid they are, the louder they whine about the "real, direct, and unnecessary harm to Americans" that shutdowns supposedly do.
One caveat here: I am sympathetic to those lower-wage federal employees who need every paycheck on time in order to maintain their basic living standards, and those federal contractors who might lack contract qualifications for retroactive pay post-shutdown. Congress should legislate to protect these individuals.
But from most government employees, the complaints ring hollow.
First off, in the D.C. area at least, federal employees tend to take home very good paychecks.
Don't get me wrong, some; such as those in the intelligence community or other high-skill/high-value positions, could earn far more in the private sector and thus deserve credit for serving the nation. Similarly, others such as those in the military and federal law enforcement deserve their salaries on account of the risk premiums they accept.
Yet though it may be politically incorrect to say so, many federal employees retain a better equivalent salary+pension+benefits package than they would from a similar private sector position. When we consider the lacking productivity of the federal workforce as contrasted with private sector, this pay versus outcome discrepancy becomes even more aggravating.
Second, furloughed government employees are essentially being paid to have a mini-vacation.
Writing in The Hill, Richard Thissen (the head of a federal retirees association) says that this is untrue. Thissen argues that government shutdowns represent "a time filled with anxiety and uncertainty, all while being unable to leave your immediate area."
Sorry, I don't buy it. After all, an enjoyable, relaxing time off does not need to involve a trip far, far away. Why not just read a book, or go to the movies, or the mall, or spend time with your family, or read the Washington Examiner's opinion page, do whatever you normally do on the weekend?
So yes, government shutdowns might not be the preference of government employees, but neither are they Armageddon. Enough of the whining.