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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Explaining the Furlough to My Son (A Transcript)

In which the author tries to explain the government shutdown to his 9-year old son.


Alex: (having overheard a conversation between my wife and I) What's a furlough?

Me: It's when the government shuts down.

Alex: How does that work?

Me: All of the non-critical government employees essentially stop working and go home.

Alex: Are you non-critical?

Me: Um, yeah.

Alex: So you're not working?

Me: Not right now, no.

Alex: Are you getting paid?

Me: No, but we'll be fine.

Alex: Oh, I'm not worried. We're rich.

Me: We are?

Alex: Why did the government shut down?

Me: It's complicated.

Alex stares at me. He will do this for hours until I answer. 

Me: It shut down because the Republicans and the-

Alex: Who are the Republicans?

Me: They're a political party.

Alex: A political party?

Me: Yeah. So the President and Senators and all the people that run the country belong to a different political party.

Alex: Like a religion.

Me: Yeah, but without the morals.

Alex: What?

Me: Nothing. So the different political parties can't agree on how much the government gets to spend for the next year. It's called a budget.

Alex: Like what mom puts you on?

Me: Yes, but instead of complaining about me spending $2 on a Mountain Dew everyday, they're unhappy about billions being spent on free health care.

Alex: What's health care got to do with it?

Me: Abso-fu--

Wife: Honey!

Me: Nothing. It doesn't have anything to do with it.

Alex: So why is health care included?

Me: That's complicated.

Alex gives the forever stare.

Me: Alright, let's say you got an allowance because you actually did something around the house.

Alex: Ha, ha.

Me: And let's say every week you had a list of chores you have to do in order to get your allowance.

Alex: Okay.

Me: And you do all the chores expecting to get your money, but then mommy says you can have your allowance this week, but you're never going to get a puppy.

Wife: Why am I the one denying our child a puppy? You're the one who--

Me: I'm teaching here. Shush. So what would you say? Would you take the allowance knowing you will never, ever get a dog?

Alex: No. Or I'd ask grandpa for one.

Me: Congress doesn't have a grandpa.

Alex: What about Uncle Sam?

Me: I think you're losing track of this--

Alex: Are we done?

Me: Yes, but do you--

Alex: Can I play the Wii?

Me: As long as we still have power.

Alex: What?

Me: Nothing, have fun. I'll be in the bathroom if you need me.