‘Just the facts,’ hard to find

We’re a local newspaper, so typically we focus on Polk County, not national issues.

The month-long government shutdown is an exception. Local people are affected.

We found federal employees in Polk County who were willing to talk with us about what this shutdown means to them, their families and their colleagues.

What we couldn’t find was an unbiased national news source to put the situation in context.

Here are some basic questions we wanted to include answers to:

1.Why did the shutdown start?

2.Why is it lasting so long?

3.What are the possible remedies?

The sources, even the Associated Press articles, included opinion – it’s “their” fault. Of course, who “they” are changes depending on the news source.

The only unbiased piece of information from major national news outlets we could find was the date the shutdown started: Dec. 22, 2018.

In fact, the only impartial description of the current situation we found was at the beginning of a Jan. 20 BBC article, titled “US shutdown: ‘It’s scary, I don’t know how long we’ll last’”

Like our article, which starts on the front page, they focused on how the affected employees are dealing with the situation.

At the beginning of the story, they say “As America’s longest-ever government shutdown continues, federal workers face an uncertain financial future.”

True.

“About 800,000 U.S. federal staff are at home or working without pay during the political deadlock over funding for Mr. Trump’s proposed border wall.”

Also true.

Then the focus is on the measures staff members are taking to try to make ends meet, from garage sales to crowdfunding.

We realize this is a heated political issue and are not advocating here for either side.

We do, however, agree with Sheridan Federal Detention Center employee David Dippel’s sentiment that it is not right for either party to use federal employees as bargaining chips.

It would be more appropriate for the people in charge of coming to an agreement to go without pay and benefits until they come to a reasonable resolution.

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