Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Shut-down fall-out ripples through southern Minnesota families January 16, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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The art of Roosevelt Elementary School student Anzal Abdi displayed during a 2018 Faribault area student art show at the Paradise Center for the Arts. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo March 2018, Used here for illustration only. I prefer peace over conflict, resolution over discord.


I’M NOT ONE TO CREATE discord and division. I really don’t like conflict. So it’s not often I write on current political topics. Hot topics seem to bring out the worst in people, especially in online comments. So be forewarned. I moderate comments. I’m OK with disagreement. But only if it’s civil.

Here goes, the current day topic that has me shaking my head in disbelief:

This whole border wall funding-federal government shut-down makes zero sense. Why? Because federal employees and ordinary citizens who have nothing at all to do with the border wall are being hurt. Financially. Emotionally. I am surprised this situation has continued for this long. But then I’m not surprised. And, no, I won’t expand on that. You can read between the lines.

Only in recent days have I heard the stories of southern Minnesotans feeling the effects. My nephew for one. He is an air traffic controller. Currently unpaid. He and his young family of five are OK for now. They have enough money saved to cover expenses for the next several months. But they are expecting a baby in April and that’s a concern.

Another young couple is also expecting a baby soon. And they are in the process of buying a home. But with the partial federal government shut-down, the home loan process is stalled. Talk about stress.

The third family is also expecting a baby. The expectant father works for the federal prison system. For now, the family is OK. They still have their health insurance coverage, a major worry with that baby coming.

I can only imagine how many more individuals and families are feeling the financial fall-out of no paycheck. How many folks are awaiting loans and more, all delayed now because of the impasse? How many people on vacation now find they can’t visit federal sites they planned to see or are caught in long lines at airports? One can only hope a resolution is reached soon as effects of the shut-down ripple through our economy, our country.

TELL ME: Are you personally affected by the shut-down or do you know of someone who is affected?

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


28 Responses to “Shut-down fall-out ripples through southern Minnesota families”

  1. Not personally yet… but if it were to shut down the VA system or the military then I would be affected in many ways. I lived and worked for the government during the last very long shut down of 1995. It was not fun!! It is grid lock for sure and it takes months to get everything up and working properly again. I have written TWO letters this past week to my MN House Rep District 8 and received (amazing, but he is new) email letters in return. They both said the same thing that he supports a wall and the WH on the issue. Yet, he is donating his government check to domestic violence in Duluth durning the close down. How kind… I say that sarcastically, when people we all know in the federal government are having to go without a paycheck, scrape together what little money they have to cover the bills, and work without pay in some cases with no idea when this will be resolved. SAD.

    • You make some good points, and from someone who knows what she’s writing. There’s real validity in that. I, too, am surprised that you got replies from your representative and laughed at the footnote of “but he is new.”

      I hope this ends soon. Not only for those going without paychecks but also for this country.

  2. Mister Craves travels for work and he prepares to get to the airport up to 3 hours early for domestic flights to ensure getting through security. We feel for those not receiving pay checks. I cannot imagine let alone wrap my head around it. Here’s to this ending soon. Take Care

  3. BradG Says:

    Yep. Have a nephew that works with National Weather Service..he has to work (essential). And health insurance comes out of his (non) paycheck. Don’t know if his coverage has been curtailed yet.

  4. Almost Iowa Says:

    I certainly do not want to make light of anyone’s hardship but during the 2011 Minnesota State Shutdown, I got into an argument with my boss. He thought I was an essential employee who should not be furloughed, despite my insistence that I wasn’t.

    As for the federal shutdown, it is utter dysfunction. The Democrats have funded a border wall in the past and suddenly find it unpalatable because Trump wants it. Politics is nothing, if not the art of feasting on the unpalatable.

    If their goal is to defeat Trump, they should give him everything he wants.

    • Oh, Greg, I can always count on you to make me think and to laugh. You accomplished both in your comment.

      Have you ever thought of running for office? Stan would make a good running mate.

      • Almost Iowa Says:

        I would love to run for office, provided that the post is unessential, say perhaps governor.

        Speaking of that, I learned from a neighbor that the 2019 Governor’s Pheasant Opener will take place across the road from my house. Hopefully, I will be working harvest in the scale house and therefore will not have to associate with the riff-raff.

        Note: the hunt will NOT take place in the Minnesota Mosquito Refuge, which is on the other side of my property. If that were the case, the mosquitoes would solve our political problems.

  5. Valerie Says:

    It’s frustrating, and unfair. I haven’t been affected personally yet, but I probably will be with airplane flights, if it continues.

  6. Kathleen Says:

    I completely agree with you Audrey regarding the shut down. Where are the adults in this equation? It’s senseless. The phrase we use often at our house since the 2016 election is, “stunned, but not surprised.”

    I know a family where this shutdown means life or death. My friend’s 51 year old husband has been waiting on FDA approval for a trial drug for his rare form of cancer. His doctor had expected the final approval to come -as it turned out – the week after the shutdown occurred.

    Her husband’s life is literally in the balance and if this stand-off doesn’t end soon, he will die. He has tried the only treatment there is for this extremely rare cancer and it didn’t work. They need this trial medicine.

    As she said last week, “he’s losing ground quickly and I’ve lost all faith in our government. If my husband of 30 years dies because of a man who won’t compromise on a wall that he promised would be paid for by Mexico -a wall that is now being asked to be paid for by American taxpayers – a wall designed to keep people out – how do we explain this to our grandchildren? What has happened to our country?”

    I have no answers to her question. I am sickened by this fiasco of a power struggle. The president needs to stop the shutdown and be honest about the wall. Mexico is not going to pay for it. And hopefully it won’t be built – for so many reasons. I ask as my friend Jane said, “what has happened to our country?”

    • Oh, Kathleen, now this is a personal story that breaks my heart. That a man cannot get the medical treatment he needs because of this shut-down is beyond unfathomable. This is absolute craziness. And I bet for this example you’ve given me, many more exist. I had not even considered this angle. This is worse than going without a paycheck. I’m sorry for your friend and for her husband and all who love and care for them.

      I ask many of the same questions you wrote here.

  7. Claudette Says:

    Even though I’m on the other side of the border (your northern one…) I see and hear and feel it too. We’re not perfect here, I have many issues with the way our country is currently run (even though it may look much more pleasant to you at the moment) but what I see and feel the most is, like you say, the effect all this has on the regular, ordinary, hard working, law abiding person and their families just trying to live a happy life.

    These elites have very little idea what it’s like for us Middle Classers, never mind those who are in less fortunate situations. I don’t care if your name is Trump or Trudeau, you don’t know (or seem to care much) about what it’s like for people who live paycheck to paycheck and have debt. And little or no medical insurance. Or worrying about how to make the next rent/mortgage/daycare payment. Or whether putting another pasta meal (or rice with beans, or fast food that’s cheap and bad for you) on the table this month will go to waste because no one wants to eat pasta every single night for a month.

    I heard the pizza sending to the air traffic controllers was initiated in Canada. A lovely gesture, I thought. 🙂

    • I agree that “they” don’t have any idea about living middle class. I would love to send my insurance premium bill to a government official so they realize what a financial burden $1,600/month premiums are for me and my husband. It’s craziness, utter craziness.

  8. I understand your frustration and sadness as the shut down continues. There have been many reasons for shutdowns over the years but this one is hard to understand. My nephew works for the federal government in Arizona in wildlife and he is not working, not being paid and disgusted. His wife works and they have savings but it is not something that anyone plans on or wants to use for a time like this. There are so many other ramifications and ripples and it is difficult to comprehend how some of these families are keeping ahead of it all. Praying for a resolution sooner rather than later.

  9. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    Hi Audrey, This shutdown is absolutely a stupid yet stunning example of a failure to discuss, debate, and compromise for the good of all rather than digging in one’s heels like a child. There was an excellent editorial in the StarTribune yesterday about the need to be the grownups in the room and say, fine, you can have your wall in some form (knowing that it’ll be a very long process before anything actually gets built) and move on so people can get back to work. Move on so people can talk to each other again. I oppose a wall with every fiber of my being, but see the value in giving a little in order to get a lot – make a demand about DACA or about health care as part of the “okay, you get this piece, we get that piece” discussion. Assuming there can still be a discussion.

    Anyway, this is a hot button for me. My partner is a professor at the University. Federally-funded grants, such as those from the NIH or USDA, are being covered by the University for now. But with millions of dollars involved, they can’t keep that up indefinitely and research is going to be stalled at some point if this impasse continues. We’re talking about research to keep food-producing and companion animals healthy, as well as research that makes human lives better. Nothing like stopping progress because you don’t get your way.

    And all of us will be affected by the ripple effects no matter what we think – from food safety to federal courts and air traffic controllers to our veterans’ health care. That’s to say nothing of the federal parks and monuments now wallowing in trash because no one is there to keep them clean and safe.

    Oh, my god, I could go on but that would only belabor the point. Is it too early for a beer?

  10. Norma Says:

    I’m far from being a politician, but the wall won’t stop anyone that wants to, to get in the US. They can climb over any wall,. They already have tunnels to get in. That stupid wall has caused nothing but frustration and hatred. Our country was built by immigrants. God help us!

  11. Gunny Says:

    Where were you folks during the Carter years who slammed the military with a pay cap to “fight inflation”? At this point, I am not affected and I do not knowingly know of anyone affected but I do know there are those that are affected! Under Reagan, a blanket amnesty was granted to what had to be 20 million illegals in exchange for a wall. Wall never got built! So much for negotiations or good intentions. This is the leadership of both parties digging their heels in to keep from appearing to cave to the other side. One newly elected rep from Wisconsin was using the “F” bomb against the prez. Wow! Where did that come from! My Mom would be washing my mouth out with soap!

    All this is around a bill that would fund all these unfunded positions. The Prez has not even left the WH, but after the failure to come to an agreement, the Speaker of the House vacationed in Hawaii????

    Ever notice how broke people get elected, become politicians, then retire millionaires?

    Claudette brings up another point! Our Canadian Cousins are swept up in the weird affects of all this posturing. Some of the stuff we put them through is absurd! Of course, when I last visited Canada, the young Canadian Customs lady was freaking out about letting me cross into Canada! Seems that they have issues with someone who has carried a gun, pepper spray, a baton and had these or used these for self defense! ( I was totally disarmed).

    For some of you, I offer that Heaven has rules and admittance is not granted to everyone. Hell has no such rules and everyone can get in. By our laws, we can make the USA a Heaven or a Hell on earth!
    Maybe I should check my Post Toasties for a PhD that I can hang on the wall

    Life is not fair and it certainly is not easy!

  12. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I feel that this would have been more effective to stop paychecks for Congress. Why should they get paid for not doing their jobs?

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