As I'm sure most people are aware, the United States government recently shut down for just over two weeks. While this may not have affected everyone directly, it was certainly a very important event, costing billions of dollars to our economy according to some estimates, and putting hundreds of thousands of federal employees out of work for several weeks.
The shutdown occurred because the House of Representatives and the Senate could not come to an agreement to pass any budget legislation at all.
To keep the government open they needed to have a continuing resolution, which simply continues to fund programs in the same way the government already did, passed before Oct. 1. Since this deadline passed before a resolution could be passed, the government stopped running all "non-essential" programs.
Oct. 17, was another important date in this fiasco. Had Congress not done something by then, our national debt would have hit the debt ceiling. This could cause any number of problems, including that our government could have run out of money to continue functioning at all. Luckily, this crisis did not occur.
All of this affected my life in a personal way, excluding my simple exasperation with the government. My father works for a company, URS, which contracts with FEMA. FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Administration, is run by the government. My dad is currently stationed in NYC cleaning up the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Luckily for us, he did not lose his job during the shutdown, but he did have very limited vacation time to come home and see his family. And if the debt ceiling had been reached, no one really knows what would have happened to his job, or to any other government operations.
In my opinion, the entire government shutdown debacle is ridiculous. The House of Representatives refused to pass a budget that would fund Obamacare, and the Senate refused to pass one that wouldn't fund it. Come on, how much more like three year olds could they be?
Even if the Republicans in the House had managed to somehow convince the Democratic Senate to pass a bill that didn't include Obamacare funding, it would not have become law. The president has to sign it first, and President Obama had vowed not to sign a budget unless it funded his health care plan.
Neither side would compromise, so they let the entire government, or at least all non-essential programs, to shut down. Of course, Congress and the President still got their paychecks. One of the first things you learn in kindergarten, or even preschool, is to share and compromise. Maybe we should send our Congressmen and women back to preschool.
Perhaps the best way to avoid this in the future is to elect representatives who are neither extremely Republican nor extremely Democratic. Moderates are much more likely to be able to come to a compromise, before our government has to stop functioning.
In any case, we can all try to convince Congress to find a solution, by sending them our opinions in emails and letters, and we can preferably do so before the next shutdown.
Editor's note: Maggie Guter, 16, is a junior at Marquette Senior High School. She is a long time member of 8-18 Media and is also involved in in sailing, skiing and piano. Her parents are Jake Guter and Mary Doll of Marquette. 8-18 Media is a youth journalism program of the Upper Peninsula Children's Museum. Through the program, teams of kids write news stories and commentaries on issues important to youth and about any good, or bad, things youth are up to. For more information call 906-226-7874, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org