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Now that we're a little more than a week on from the government shutdown's start, Americans are a beginning to feel the effects of not having a bureaucratic nightmare breathing down their necks as they make all of their major life decisions. Can the governent breathe down our necks while the website that powers the government's own health care plan is still non-functional? Unfortunately, it can.
In order to visit a national park or memorial, you have to declare a First Amendment purpose. If you have a complaint about a violation of your civil liberties, there's no hotline to call. And if you picked this week to open your craft brewery, you're going to have to wait just a little bit longer. But with 86% of the government still functioning, you can tell that these agencies were selected for closure to maximize your pain. But what about the things the government does that you're not missing? What activities that have been designated "non-essential" really aren't essential? Well, a lot. But here are ten things the government is currently not doing that you probably didn't need them to do in the first place:
1. The Bureau of Land Management has halted donkey adoptions.
Because, as it turns out, most of that is accomplished online and the website for the Bureau of Land Management is currently down. Though they did put up a website to tell users of their website that they can't access the website. So there.
2. The USDA "Meat and Poultry Hotline" is no longer available to take calls about the safety of that mystery meat that's been sitting in the back of your fridge for a decade.
Now, if you don't know if you might get food poisining from green chicken, the government is unavailable to help you. And if you have questions about the name of a specific type of bacteria that landed you in the bathroom for 36 hours, you'll just have to use a (privately-funded) resource like WebMD.
3. No one is currently advising the government on matters pertaining to the "fine arts."
And just when it seems that someone might have gotten a photograph of Banksy tagging up an NYC alleyway. Shame.
4. The Broadcasting Board of Governors has been forced to shutter a number of its offices.
Of course, the Broadcasting Board of Governors mostly uses its websites and offices to talk about what people who are not Broadcasting Board of Governors do, but that's beside the point, right?
5. The Post Office is running, but the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee has been temporarily suspended.
That said, you can still vote on which commemorative stamps you'd like the USPS to issue online, so at least the government has learned about citizen empowerment and free opinions.
6. We will be unlikely to hear from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugurations.
Not that there are any planned until 2016. But in case we need an emergency inauguration (which, frankly, we hope doesn't happen) we're out of luck.
7. The US Board of Geographic Names, which is apparently charged with naming US geographic items, doesn't even have its website running.
America, if you can avoid discovering new geographic items that would require names for at least the forseeable future, they'd appreciate it.
8. The Clinton Presidential Center has closed some of its permanent exhibits.
We'd call this the "Washington Monument Strategy" but something tells me no one is going to be too hurt at being turned away from seeing a collection of Hillary Clinton's White House-era pantsuits.
9. The University of Hawaii has halted its research into rat lungworm disease.
Unfortunately, it's probably hard to convince private donors that it's necessary to figure out why a type of vermin is falling prey to another type of vermin, so it's the government's responsibility. Except not right now.
10. A full third of the speakers for the Illinois River Coordinating Council were forced to delay their trip to scenic Peoria, Illinois.
I believe that the river coordinators could not coordinate a conference call. Also, who cares if they have to miss a trip to Peoria? There's nothing in Peoria.
Now, of course, there are some things that the government does that are very valuable, but when you would never have noticed a few key very important elements of the government (according to the government) are missing, it sort of makes you think about whether we really need it all, especially when it comes out of our pockets.