Are You A Federal Worker Low On Cash During Shutdown? The Trump Admin Is Here To 'Help'


We're almost a week into Donald Trump's Holiday Government Shutdown Spectacular! Trump's WALL-related temper tantrum is expected to linger through the new year, like your dried-up Christmas tree. Democrats take control of the House in January and will draft legislation to turn the lights back on in the government. It's anyone's guess if Trump will buckle and sign anything that doesn't have money for WALL. In the meantime, 800,000 federal employees aren't working -- or are working but not getting paid like so many folks Trump has stiffed over the years.

Don't worry. Trump hasn't forgotten about these forgotten men and women. The US Office of Personnel Management, which manages the federal civilian workforce, tweeted out some advice Thursday that should prove helpful to workers whose New Year's resolutions involve continued access to food and shelter.

Creditors? Legal advice? Is it already that bad? Are kneecaps in jeopardy? Does OPM seriously believe federal employees have personal attorneys on retainer? Generally speaking, when you're broke, none of the lawyers in the room are on your side.

Here are some of OPM's helpful tips that were dusted off from the Obama administration.

Speak with your landlord, mortgage company, or creditor first before you write a letter. Just sending a letter may not be very effective as it will take a fair amount of time to get to the individual who needs to see it, if at all. Speaking with your creditors will enable you to work out the details of any payment plan that you can later confirm with your letter.

Sounds reasonable. Although there is something to be said about avoiding personal interaction with people to whom you owe a lot of money. Letters don't have kneecaps.

The sample letters are useful for anyone who didn't take a typing class in high school. They are well-formatted and everything.

Dear (Name of Company or individual with whom you have spoken)

This is to confirm our conversation of (date) in which we discussed a temporary reduction in my monthly rent.

As we discussed, I am a Federal employee who has recently been furloughed due to a lack of funding of my agency. Because of this, my income has been severely cut and I am unable to pay the entire cost of my rent, along with my other expenses.

Unfortunately, your mortgage lender will likely just respond with a text message that reads: "Screw U. Pay Me." OPM apparently thinks the renters will have more luck with landlords during tight times because that sample letter proposes bartering their services in exchange for rent.

I will keep in touch with you to keep you informed about my income status and I would like to discuss with you the possibility of trading my services to perform maintenance (e.g. painting, carpentry work) in exchange for partial rent payments.

The average renter usually prefers that landlords hire professionals for required maintenance. You might feel sympathetic to their needless Trump-inflicted suffering, but you still probably don't want a tour guide from the Smithsonian fixing your water heater. The obvious problem with trading services for your continued housing is that the landlord has all the leverage. You could be painting bedrooms for most of fiscal year 2019 to make good for missing one month's rent. God also knows what else landlords might demand from desperate tenants. It could be something from Les Miserables.

All shutdowns are dumb, even when they occurred under Obama when he refused to take health care from a sick person on live TV. But it's especially appalling that Trump is causing real pain to real people so he can flex his muscle for his gullible base of racist supporters. He stated Thursday like a true sociopath that most of the people not getting paid were Democrats, which was either intended to motivate elected Democrats to give in to his WALL demands or was just a reassuringly sadistic wink at Republicans across the country. It reminds me of the scene from "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" when a woman asks Huck if anyone was hurt in an accident. When he tells her a black person was killed, she responds, "Well, it's lucky, because sometimes people do get hurt."

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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