I’m covering news stories related to how the arts and entertainment are being affected by the American government shutdown, and I’m glad to say that, into day 3, there’s finally some good news.
First, the Kennedy Center will remain open during the government shutdown. While they are curtailing some of their hours, no employees will be furloughed. They also have a detailed plan for government shutdown, and it says this:
“In the event of a Government shutdown, the Kennedy Center will continue its non-appropriated functions and honor all non-appropriated fund contracts, including planned performances, educational activities, public trust functions (such as the Kennedy Center Box Office, Retail and Parking Operations), and employment activities for its approximately 1,150 trust employees. This is consistent with the Center’s activities during the 1995-1996 Government shutdowns, during which the Kennedy Center remained open and performances were maintained as scheduled.”
You can check their website for details about how the shutdown affects their hours of operation.
Now, as you may recall, the government shutdown was originally a threat from extremists in the GOP to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That didn’t happen, because the Democrats finally decided to stand up for something. Obamacare went into effect on October 1st, and the federal government closed.
My homestate of South Carolina is a very, very conservative, red state, and legislators have opposed the Affordable Care Act at every step of the way. They are one of 29, I think, states that opted out of implementing Obamacare. However, one tiny piece of good news has come out of the state due to the hissyfit shutdown: the South Carolina Zoo (which is pretty awesome, I have to say) is offering free admission to federal employees for a few days. I mean, if you’re going to be broke and alone with your kids, the least you can do is go out and have a good time. I’m so excited.
Even more exciting, the Walt Disney Company is offering full-time employment to 427 part-time employees of Disney World in Florida, who under the ACA qualify for medical coverage. One of the ACA requirements is for businesses to offer health care to employees who work a certain number of hours, regardless of whether they are considered full or part time. While this action looks like it will cause some problems with union labor at the park, the entertainment megacorporation has made a much better decision than lots of other large companies, which are instead firing employees so they don’t have to spend more money on labor that was supposed to be close to free. Because, it turns out, businesses don’t give a shit if you live or die, as long as they make money.
I mentioned yesterday that Ted Cruz told the world, just prior to the shutdown, that he still planned on drawing his comfortable salary while the government shutdown happened, effectively making the budget deficit much worse. Many legislators are either refusing their salaries during the shutdown, or have vowed to donate all of that money to charity (a noble motion, indeed, but actually good for their pocketbooks come tax time). Democratic representative Rick Nolan of Minnesota introduced a bill on October 1st to block members of Congress from getting paid during the shutdown – so taxpayers don’t have to fund a temper tantrum.
“The inability of this Congress to collaborate, compromise, and get things done has led me to introduce legislation to prohibit Members from being paid when failure to do their job results in a government shutdown,” Nolan said in a Tuesday statement. “It’s time for Congress to start living in the real world – where you either do your job, or you don’t get paid.”
The move could potentially violate the 27th amendment, but there’s so many laws and amendments potentially being violated in this entire thing that I’m having a hard time keeping up.
What I’d like to see is emergency elections called in all the states that are currently not being represented because their federal legislators decided to go on strike. If they don’t want other workers to strike, then they don’t get the right to strike either, and we should bring in scabs. Just saying.