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March 4, 2013

BEAM: Cutbacks and Chianti: The secret lives of the sequestered

Let’s face the facts. Whenever the government makes cuts of any type, someone will be affected financially. Discontinued social programs would most likely result in jobs being lost and greater hardships on those serviced. Fewer infrastructure projects would mean less money for engineering firms and their workers. Reductions in spending always will have consequences. 

Take the sequestration that went into effect Friday. 

I hate the word sequestration. Partially because the term’s actual meaning — confiscation or seizure — really has little to do with how the government has decided to apply the word. Using across-the-board cuts to force the government to trim its ever-growing budget has no relation to seizures, unless you count the related stress some workers will suffer after they get a gander of their reduced paychecks. I’m assuming the term “screwjob” was already taken. 

Of course, the bigger reason I dislike the word sequestration is because this time around the policy affects my family. On Friday, my husband received a letter from his higher-ups that he would be forced to take a day of furlough every two weeks. 

While any additional time off without pay doesn’t feel good financially, the thought of having the hubby at home two extra days a month for a wee bit doesn’t sound too terrible either. Cue the chocolate strawberries and red wine, please. 

We’re lucky. I know other federal employees won’t have it so easy.

But, during these troubling economic times, many workers in the private sector have had their benefits reduced. I’m not going to complain about ours. We’ll make do with less. Of course, it means we won’t be able to spend as much. Unlike the government, we actually make our ends meet. 

Wait a second. Do you hear that faint drip? That’s the trickling down of my family’s income cuts heading to our local stores, charitable organizations and recreational programs. I like to think of it as trickle-down economics in reverse, or a new economic theory called not paying it forward. Either way, our cuts will float further down the fiscal pipeline to a store near you. 

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