The Herald Bulletin

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October 14, 2013

Emmett Dulaney: To feds, business seemingly 'nonessential'

Several days ago, the federal government implemented a partial shutdown, and all “nonessential” services were suspended. In my vernacular, nonessential and unnecessary mean the same thing.

I don’t work in government, and have no interest in doing so. But I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t some lack of pride associated with being labeled as a “nonessential employee” and told not to report to work, as opposed to being told that the country can’t do without me and there will be a pool of money set aside to get us through this.

By no means am I trying to start a political discourse about the shutdown, but I find it very interesting what is considered nonessential and forced to shut down.

The first agency that caught me off guard was the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Since its founding in 1953, the SBA has focused on helping small business owners by reducing some of the reluctance of lenders to provide them with funding.

While there are a variety of programs and divisions, the majority of the SBA’s operations can be simplified as follows: after businesses have been denied loans by traditional lenders, the SBA can step in and insure the loan so the business can still get it (paying a few more points) and the lender can be comfortable with it (knowing that it is insured).

I find it hard to believe that small business lending is considered nonessential.

I also find it hard to believe that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is similarly labeled. This agency is the main one charged with “measuring labor market activity, working conditions and price changes to the economy.”

This is the organization that releases unemployment numbers, keeps track of the cost-of-living index and has a mission to “collect, analyze and disseminate essential economic information to support public and private decision-making.”

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