For a while it looked like this Saturday’s Service Academy football games — including the big one between Navy and Air Force during which Navy’s 1963 Cotton Bowl team will be honored — might be cancelled due to the government shutdown. Because these games can be financed without government funding, cancelling them would have been an act of pure spite, like much else the government is doing with the shutdown.
In the end, cooler heads, or shrewder politicians, prevailed. The games will proceed.
This doesn’t sit well with Tracee Hamilton, a sports columnist for the Washington Post. She finds it unseemly for these games to be played “when 800,000 government workers have been sent home with no pay.” Hamilton acknowledges that cancelling the games wouldn’t have done anything for these employees, but sees the non-cancellation as evidence of “misplaced priorities.”
Only in greater Washington — the company town where Hamilton and the bulk of her readers work — can it be considered unseemly to go about life as usual when government workers aren’t being paid. I didn’t plan to watch the Service Academy games, in any case. Maybe I should fast to show my solidarity with our local bureaucrats.
I do sympathize with my friends, neighbors, and others who, through no fault of their own, aren’t able to work at their jobs. Most of them are hard-working, competent (or better) employees.
But they shouldn’t expect to be immune from job interruptions. Non-government employees may find themselves at home due, say, to a lockout. They may even lose their jobs because of layoffs resulting from government regulations. When that happens, do the government employees who write these regs take the weekend off from watching football?
Government jobs — generally well-paying, with great benefits and pensions — historically have carried little risk. But every job carries some.
It’s unfortunate when these risks are actualized. But it’s not cause for mourning.