Shutdown comes at expense of more Americans than just government employees
Going to work this Monday, collecting a paycheck on Friday? Not if you're working for the Department of Commerce, one of the many departments in which employees are going a third week without a paycheck or promise of one in the future. Too bad, you say, government employees are riding the bureaucratic train to fat retirements and lucrative pensions, so who really cares if they suffer a job loss?
I care. And maybe you should, too. I'm married to a government scientist, a 38-year veteran working out of the outdated, "X-Files"-looking set of buildings along Broadway known as NTIA. He is a man who's spent his life measuring all things intangible so that citizens can enjoy things like clear communication on their cellphones and U.S. Navy ships can operate without interference from random intrusions, keeping our country safe from attack. Like thousands of people working for the U.S. government, there is value in what my husband does every day he goes into the lab. He did nothing to deserve this abrupt change in being able to support our family, and neither did I.
Yet here we are in the throes of a full-fledged temper tantrum thrown by a wanna-be dictator at the expense of nearly a million Americans — an action he would never be undertaking without the support of his party. The effects of this shutdown are trickling down and will continue to do so, from people unable to pay rent or a mortgage to simply dining out on a Thursday night. Even if you don't work for the government, you could still be affected by the money people don't spend at your store or restaurant, because your customers do.
We will be pulling from resources set aside for the future because the need has arisen for them now. We're canceling plans until elected officials can behave like logical, intelligent adults — our own Sen. Cory Gardner included — and end the shutdown, without giving in to the insane demands for $5.7 billion to build an environmentally disastrous and logistically unfeasible wall to separate "Us from Them."
Like nearly 1 million Americans and counting affected by this shutdown, we stand ready to defend democracy at our personal expense, because we believe in the integrity of democracy and that this country is America, not Russia. And still one has to ask: Should any American be held hostage to the whims of a narcissist?
Denise Boehler, Nederland
You can save water, forest and lives by going vegan
Normally, we start the year looking back at the last and striving to do better. I think it's healthy to reflect. 2018 was by far my healthiest year. I have been vegan for a little over a year and a half now. What does that mean? According to thevegancalculator.com, my change in behavior has resulted in over 600,000 gallons of water, 23,000 pounds of grain, 17,250 square feet of forest, 11,500 pounds of CO2, and 575 animal lives saved.
I'm originally from Chicago, the land of meat and potatoes (and more meat). I remember tailgating at White Sox games with all different types of dead animals on the grill and never considering the impact to my health, the planet or the animals. I think that's because deep down, we don't want to think about it. Because the truth is the information is out there and most of us know it. We know processed and red meat are Class 1 & 2A carcinogens as classified by the World Health Organization and that a whole-food, plant-based diet is the only clinically proven method to ever reverse cardiovascular disease, the No. 1 killer of Americans.
We know that we can not only survive but thrive on a plant-based diet, so it is unnecessary to take the life of an animal for something we don't need to be healthy. And we know that animal agriculture accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation industry combined. And in case you weren't aware of these facts, now you are. We can make an impactful choice three times a day by choosing what we put on our plate. Choose health and compassion — choose vegan. Try a 22-day challenge at vegan22.com, and happy Veganuary!
Joshua Smith, Boulder