The Results of the Government Shutdown

The Government Shutdown Did Nothing For Either Political Party, It Only Hurt The People They Swore To Protect

All for the sake of a physical barrier driven by a campaign of hatred and xenophobia, with our Commander in Chief at the helm of the hysteria.

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This past Friday, President Donald Trump announced the end of the government shutdown that was started on December 22nd over a lack of financial backing (request for approximately $5 billion) for his highly-touted "Border Wall" as a solution to the crisis at the Southern Border. A full five weeks have passed since the initial occurrence, during which certain aspects of government (such as the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and the Environmental Protection Agency) have been ground to a halt by Trump's insistence that the Democrats cave in against his fear-mongering ideology.

The shutdown has caused approximately 800,000 workers to stop receiving pay. NASA itself was compromised into furloughing 17,500 employees (approximately 85% of its workforce), and the IRS was forced to place nearly 50% of their staff on a temporary leave of absence at the beginning of tax season.

Such policies have been detrimental to the efforts of national security, as demonstrated by TSA agents (responsible for screening passengers and baggage) calling in sick in increased numbers in airports across the country, with many of them contemplating quitting due to financial hardship exacerbated by the government shutdown. In addition, national parks such as the Joshua Tree National Park have been closed down due to limited staffing and mounting pressure from visitors, despite the efforts of volunteers that stepped in to help with cleanup. Institutions of art and history, such as the National Gallery of Art and all 19 Smithsonian museums, were also closed as a consequence of the current political climate.

The widespread damage of this economic shutdown has also lead to an increased risk for public health epidemics.

A number of inspections of industrial sites such as treatment plants and chemical factories were also temporarily stymied because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was unable to pay its employees. This lack of inspection has also lead to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to halt its routine checks on food items that could possibly risk a high level of contamination, such as seafood and vegetables.

Overall, the effects of this government shutdown were widespread across a plethora of national departments and left hundreds of thousands without an adequate source of income, all for the sake of a physical barrier driven by a campaign of hatred and xenophobia, with our Commander in Chief at the helm of the hysteria. Only time will tell how impactful this decision was on our populace, but if there's one thing that we have learned, it is this: a government shutdown to settle political issues affects neither parties, but only the very people they swore to protect as representatives of the people.

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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A Little Skepticism Goes A Long Way

Be informed citizens and verify what you see and hear.

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These days more than ever before we are being bombarded constantly by a lot of news and information, a considerable amount of which is inaccurate. Sometimes there's an agenda behind it to mislead people and other times its just rumors or distortion of the facts. So, how do you sift through all this and get accurate information? How can you avoid being misled or brainwashed?

This is an important topic because the decisions each of us make can affect others. And if you are a responsible citizen your decisions can affect large numbers of people, hopefully positively, but negatively as well.

It's been said that common sense is not something that can be taught, but I am going to disagree. I think with the right training, teaching the fundamentals behind common sense can get people to have a better sense of what it is and start practicing it. All you will need is to improve your general knowledge and gain some experience, college is a good place for that, then add a little skepticism and you are on your way to start making sensible decisions.

One of the fundamental things to remember is not to believe a statement at face value, you must first verify. Even if you believe it's from a trusted source, they may have gotten their info from a questionable one. There's a saying that journalists like to use: "if your mother said, 'I love you' you should verify it.'" While this is taking it a bit too far, you get the idea.

If you feel that something is not adding up, or doesn't make sense then you are probably right. This is all the more reason to check something out further. In the past, if someone showed a picture or video of something that was sufficient proof. But nowadays with so many videos and picture editing software, it would have to go through more verification to prove its authenticity. That's not the case with everything but that's something that often needs to be done.

One way of checking if something sounds fishy is to look at all the parties involved and what do they have to gain and lose. This sometimes is easier to use when you're dealing with a politics-related issue, but it can work for other things where more than one person/group is involved. For example, most people and countries as well will not do something that is self-destructive, so if one party is accusing the other of doing something self-destructive or disadvantageous then it's likely that there is something inaccurate about the account. Perhaps the accusing party is setting the other one up or trying to gain some praise they don't deserve.

A lot of times all it takes is a little skepticism and some digging to get to the truth. So please don't be that one which retweets rumors or helps spread misinformation. Verify before you report it.

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