Letters 10-2-13


Some things to do during shutdown

Top 10 Things to do during the shutdown:

1. Drive to the volcano. Then turn around and drive back, because the park will be closed, along with all the other 410 national parks. Want to know if the volcano is going to erupt and wipe out Hilo? Fuggettaboutit. The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory will also be shut down and the staff will be furloughed. The instruments that measure seismic activity and enable alerts of imminent eruptions will stop functioning. But hey, the $50 in gas you wasted will help your local service station franchisee weather the impending tourism disaster.

2. Check in at a hotel. Unless, of course, you’re one of the 60 percent of our visitors coming from overseas. The government won’t be processing visas, so sayonara. It was nice not meeting you.

3. Stock up on toilet paper. Especially if you’re a member of the military or one of the government employees that make up a majority of all employed persons on the Big Island. Some of you won’t be furloughed but unfortunately none of you will get a paycheck. What’s that? You’re living from paycheck to paycheck like most military members and don’t know how you’ll put food on the table for your loved ones? Write one of the multimillionaire congressmen who won’t be furloughed during the shutdown. Maybe they’ll send you a food stamp, if they’re not too busy lying around the pool drinking cocktails with little paper umbrellas. Well, maybe not. The food stamp program may shut down also.

4. Buy a home. Assuming, of course, you plan on paying with cash and don’t need a mortgage. FHA will close down and no mortgage applications will be processed. Well, you could always get a “private mortgage” from some guy named Hiro with an office in the back of a used car dealership located in a lava field. On a positive note for homebuyers, if the shutdown persists for more than a few days, the resulting real estate crisis could motivate some sellers to lower their prices.

5. Take a vacation overseas. That is, if you have a current passport. The passport office will shut down, and the government won’t be accepting or processing passport applications. Within only a few days, the backlog will add months to the processing time.

6. Go on a shopping spree. Unless you happen to be one of the furloughed employees, unpaid military personnel or an employee of one of the thousands of retail businesses that will be reeling from the cash flow cutoff.

7. Get a degree in law, medicine or art from some mail-order school advertised on the back of a matchbook cover. While the FBI will still be operating, there won’t be enough personnel to monitor everyday fraud and Internet scams.

8. Go to court. As long as it’s not a federal court. Oh sure, technically they’ll still be operating, but the case backlog could last months.

9. Send a birthday card to Congress congratulating them on turning five and expressing your fond hope that they continue to have fun flinging sand at each other in their sandbox. After all, none of them will be furloughed and most likely not impacted in any noticeable way, except possibly those who have been hoping to mortgage their yachts before the sailing season ends in Greece.

10. Read a book. Whatever you do, don’t read about the impact of the shutdown. Wait, too late.

D.L. Foster

Kona