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A call to action

October 14, 2013

It's been over a week now, and The Shutdown has had a widespread negative effect across the country.

The first U.S. government shutdown in 17 years closed major landmarks and halted some services, throwing as many as 800,000 federal employees out of work.

To make matters worse, a potential default looms on the horizon, yet both Democrats and Republicans continue to talk past each other.

One key bargaining chip Republicans have sought to use in government shutdown negotiations is their refusal to raise the debt ceiling—a congressionally approved restriction on the amount of national debt that can be issued by the Treasury.

If the debt ceiling is not raised by Oct. 17, some economic experts have warned that the U.S. would have no choice but to default on its loans.

The most dire predictions point to a financial crisis with global implications.

In the meantime, our nation is suffering more each day, making the United States a laughingstock globally and costing the American people millions of dollars each day.

In addition, the shutdown is forcing our country to move backward in the ever-so-important field of science.

The scientific community, which relies heavily on federal funding, has not been exempt from the belt-tightening incurred by the government shutdown. Benjamin Corb from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology recently said that lack of funding is pushing researchers out of the U.S.

On Tuesday, Oct. 8, the effects of the shutdown stretched to Antarctica, where scientists preparing to study the melting ice sheets may be sent home. Researchers already work on a restricted schedule because of the small window of warm weather in Antarctica. Now, because of the lack of federal funding, an entire year of research could be lost.

On Wednesday, Oct. 9, the shutdown caused more chilling effects on research in Antarctica as the National Science Foundation announced it is putting on hold three scientific studies used for looking at penguins and other wildlife since 1990.

Here in Mono County, a call to the local Veterans Administration representative was answered by a voicemail stating the office was closed until Oct. 14, with no explanation or way for veterans to contact anyone if they needed help.

We don’t have to remind you of the effects the shutdown is having due to Yosemite National Park, Death Valley, Devils Postpile and many Inyo National Forest Service facilities closing, including almost every campground in the area—a consequence of living in a region that is more than 90 percent federally managed.

This partial government shutdown is a good reminder of what happens when the people do not keep their elected officials representing the people.

With the advances in technology, our society has seemingly grown passive and apathetic—and we’re not just talking about the young people entering their 20s and 30s.

In a world where people are accustomed to ranting, raging, and venting on the Internet through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, StumbleUpon, ChimeIn, etc., American citizens are no longer contacting their elected officials as much as they used to, and definitely not as much as they should be.

Americans get angry, but after Tweeting about it, the emotion passes and they continue on with their day. A friend of ours calls this impotent venting “meaner and more meaningless.” We agree.

Imagine if all these passive Internet posts turned into phone calls, or even snail mail letters to our elected officials.

In light of this mess, we challenge you to do something more.

Write email, or send snail mail to our California officials. Better yet, call them. Let’s inform them that Mono County is paying attention, that we’re unhappy, and that we want them to stop playing with our destinies for the sake of their personal, vested interests.

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