America’s Most Recent Shutdown Reveals a Need to Get Back to Basics
America’s longest government shutdown finally came to a close (for now) on January 25th after 35 long grueling days. Federal employees were unable to receive pay, yet forced to work. Some who are contractors including those under low wage jobs including food service employees and custodial staff will never see a penny from the wages they lost. As lawmakers are rushing to create legislation to prevent another shutdown, the repercussions are still lingering.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the United States economy suffered a loss of $11 billion of which $3 billion will never be recovered. They have also estimated that economic growth for 2019 will be 2.3 percent, a decrease from 3.1 percent in 2018. Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck — a whopping 80% of full time workers. And while many struggled to survive, communities did come together to help out their fellow Americans and their country during their time of need.
But while the kindness of the community is always welcomed, a government of a country as grand and great as the United States of America must be able to do better for their people. While the main issue inciting the shutdown was the President’s $5.7 billion demand for a border wall, there is a chance that the government could shutdown over this issue after three weeks.
If we look far back as the time of Prophet Adam (peace be upon him), we see governing in even its most archaic forms required those who governed to care for the people. In his book, The Economic System of Islam by His Holiness Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, the second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, explains that when God ordained Prophet Adam his mission, the goal was to create a civilized society during the primal stage of humanity which included ensuring basic needs for all. To lead a just society, “food, clothing and shelter were laid down as the primary needs; and the new society was made responsible for ensuring that all its members were properly provided for in these respects.”
But we live in an age of modern technology, innovation and advancement. And a country that has been alive for over 242 years, one would assume we would be able to at least protect over 800,000 federal workers that are employed to serve their country. But with homelessness on the rise in some parts of the U.S. and around 40 million Americans facing food insecurity, the shutdown remarkably reveals how poor the U.S. population is doing. In fact, “only 40 percent of Americans would pay an unexpected $1,000 expense” showing Americans do not have enough in savings. As cost of living goes up while wages don’t, majority of the country is to survive at the most basic level.
The United States of America is indeed a nation of resilience and hard work. But perhaps our government would benefit on getting back to basics and ensuring, just as Prophet Adam as well as other great prophets after him, that the primary needs of our citizens are met.