By Trudy Wischemann

If you listen to public radio or watch public TV, all week long you’ve heard stories of the 800,000 people whose jobs and/or paychecks have been temporarily taken from them. They work for the federal government, and because our congress is so hog-tied by our president, the money to pay them is temporarily not available because it has no congressional approval. 

These people, their jobs, and the work they do fall under the category of “non-essential services” that government provides. It’s a mandate thing, a bureaucratic decision what falls into that category. What has struck me this week, listening to all this, is witnessing how essential these things are, in truth, because of our true interdependence. People have not just been removed from their jobs and their livelihoods, but holes have been torn in the fabric of many communities, and it’s not pretty.

It’s not hard to empathize with them. Compared to food safety inspectors and air traffic controllers, a lot of what the rest of us do for a living is even more non-essential. Most of the jobs I’ve held since I moved here almost anyone can do, and the world would not stop if the work went undone. And yet people depended on someone to check them into the motel and ring up their groceries, and the functioning parts of the town would be impaired hugely if R-N Market closed, if we had no motel. The same goes for the restaurants and hardware store, the smog checkers and tire shops. Most of what most of us do falls under the category of non-essential, but we are needed anyway.

Then there are people who fill their jobs in ways that make you wish they’d quit. They’re not non-essential, they’re damaging. They make a hole, sometimes a big hole, where there had been fabric before. More people are required to fill the purpose of damage-control. Kellyanne Conway and Ms. Sanders come to mind, along with Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, Jared Kushner…

I know some of you will take offense at that, but look at this mess now. Congress is in control, or is supposed to be, but that makes Individual One feel so powerless that he’s taking bread off the table of 800,000 of his underlings (who are actually our civil servants,) and putting the rest of us at risk of food poisoning, airplane collisions and terrorists (foreign and domestic alike) boarding jets so that he can boast to the minority of Americans who think he walks on water that he actually does. A normal person could get life in prison for holding two people hostage; he’s got the whole country bent over. 

But our Congressmen and –women, particularly our Republican Congressmen (and what few women they have) are sitting on their hands, terrified of doing the right thing, which is sending him a bill he’ll veto then voting it in over his head. So, fellow Americans, what are we to do? Send our Republican representatives word that we’ve had enough of this petty tyrant, and they’d better do their jobs. Right now their jobs are in danger of being categorized “non-essential.”

Trudy Wischemann is a rural advocate who writes on behalf of our small farms and towns here in Tulare County. She lives in Lindsay. You can send her your thoughts c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit and leave a comment there.

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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