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Springfield, MO

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Letter to the Editor

Opinion: Government gets back to work, but was the shutdown worth it?

Posted online

Dear editor,

I write in response to Sen. Roy Blunt’s opinion-editorial in the Jan. 21-27 edition of Springfield Business Journal. In his column, Blunt presents his argument in support of “stronger physical barriers at the border between the U.S. and Mexico.” Whether these barriers would effectively address the problem of illegal residency in the U.S. is a key policy question. So, too, is whether illegal immigration represents the threat to the American economy Blunt seems to suggest. Be that as it may, and until last Friday, these questions were made controversial enough to shut down entire swaths of the federal government.

On that last point, I’d like it noted: This shutdown damaged Springfield’s businesses in tangible, measurable and immediate ways. The damage left by the shutdown is not going to be recovered easily, if at all. It increased the cost of doing business, and it took productive hours away from the workday. Businesses already work hard enough; they don’t need the additional burden of being a chip in the bargaining process.

I read Blunt outline the problems that illegal immigration causes. I did not read the senator acknowledge any of the problems the shutdown caused, much less an apology for the trouble.

The shutdown is now over, at least temporarily. Question: Was the shutdown worth it? Was a fight over a “stronger physical barrier,” which is now no closer to being built than it was a month ago, worth impairing the livelihoods of the American workforce?

How about the Springfield workforce?

Let’s be clear about the cost: In Springfield, there have been businesses on hold for new product releases due to the shutdown. The federal agencies that approve these releases were closed. There have been businesses in Springfield who can’t import raw materials due to the shutdown. The federal agencies overseeing import contracts were closed. There are businesses who have Small Business Administration loans pending. There are federal employees with paychecks pending, some for more than a month.

Was the shutdown worth it?

In his column, Blunt argues that legal immigration is vital for our economy and an asset to our communities. I agree. The problem is that, like it or not, the federal government is vital to actually doing the business that contributes to economic prosperity, here and throughout the country.

We couldn’t afford the first shutdown. We can’t afford another shutdown. If, like Blunt, our leaders are as concerned about the vitality of the American economy as he states, then we need these leaders to stand in the way of those responsible for the shutdown of government services.

We’re citizens, after all. We’re supposed to be part of the debate, not part of the deal.

—John Taylor, Springfield

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