Aside from the numerous federal employees whose jobs were furloughed due to the current government shutdown, a widely-discussed consequence of the political shutout has been that U.S. National Parks are to remain closed until members of Congress can settle their differences.
While the closure of national parks and museums certainly has a negative effect on the hordes of tourists in D.C. and around the country, the government shutdown also has personal repercussions for an elderly couple living in Nevada.
Ralph and Joyce Spencer, husband and wife, were forced to leave their private home in Lake Mead, Nev., until the government resumes operating in its normal capacity. Due to a law denying individuals the ability to stay overnight on federal land during a government shutdown, the U.S. National Park Service gave the couple 24 hours notice to evacuate their home.
Ralph is 80 years old and Joyce is 77, and the two have owned their cabin since the 1970s. Although the house is a private establishment, it technically sits on federal land.
A statement from Park Service officials explained the harsh action taken against the couple. “Unfortunately overnight stays are not permitted until a budget is passed and the park can reopen,” the statement claimed.
The Spencers have been staying with nearby family members during the shutout and appear to be handling the situation quite well, despite the unfortunate circumstances.
“I had to go to town today and buy Ralph undershirts and jeans because I forgot his pants,” Joyce Spencer said to Las Vegas’ Channel 13 news. “We’re not hurt in any way except it might cost me if I have to go buy more pants.”
As members of Congress continue to quibble about the Affordable Care Act and other matters concerning the budget, individuals such as the Spencers are left without work or a place to stay. Although 83 percent of the government remains unaffected by the shutdown, events such as this couple’s eviction demonstrate the trivial manner in which high-level politics is affecting the lives of the politicians’ constituents.
The battle for or against Obamacare is an important one, but forcing an elderly couple to relocate (or not paying federal workers, or refusing to let WWII veterans visit their memorial, or any of the other ways in which real people have been affected by the current situation in government) until the matter is settled hardly seems justifiable.