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10 Jan, 2019 05:03

US Coast Guard tells employees to babysit & hold garage sales to survive government shutdown

US Coast Guard tells employees to babysit & hold garage sales to survive government shutdown

The cash-strapped US Coast Guard has quietly removed a “tip sheet” it had posted on its website suggesting that employees hold garage sales, babysit, or take up other odd jobs to make ends meet during the government shutdown.

The memo advised employees to “be creative” and offered some rather patronizing suggestions to make quick cash: “offer to watch children, walk pets or house-sit,” “turn your hobby into income,” even “have a garage sale – clean out your attic, basement, and closets at the same time.” The more adventurous could even “become a mystery shopper. Retailers are desperate to check how their in-store customer service is and will employ you to shop and rate their service.”

While it may be uncomfortable to deal with the hard facts, it’s best to avoid the ‘hide your head in the sand’ reaction,” the tip sheet sagely advised. “Stay in charge of the situation by getting a clear understanding of what’s happening.”

The pamphlet was removed after the Washington Post linked to it; service spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Scott McBride claimed it did not “reflect the Coast Guard’s current efforts to support our workforce during this lapse in appropriations."

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Some of the “advice” was just pathetic: “Acknowledge that this is hard work. Give yourself credit for doing a tough job!

Other lines were notable for their sanity: “Don’t use credit to supplement your income.”

A reminder that “bankruptcy is a last option” was more worrisome, suggesting that even during flush times Coast Guard employees don’t make nearly as much as their colleagues at the Pentagon.

Republicans introduced the “Pay Our Coast Guard Act” in the Senate last week, with bipartisan support, in an attempt to keep the agency afloat, though President Trump has vowed to veto any and all attempts to reopen parts of government until he gets his wall funding. House Democrats have nevertheless begun passing individual bills to reopen the shuttered agencies, hoping to put pressure on Senate Republicans who have thus far declined to “waste time” taking up bills sure to be vetoed by the president.

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While Trump claims government workers support him, the absence of a paycheck tends to erode political posturing. Coast Guard wife Natalie Daniels condemned both parties for “playing a game of political chicken with Americans.”

While the Pentagon remains fully funded during the shutdown, the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to 41,000 active-duty service members, 2,100 civilian employees have been designated “essential” and must work without pay; 6,400 others have been furloughed since the shutdown began nearly three weeks ago.

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