Government shutdown is no game: Congress 'rage quits'

Government shutdown: The federal government shutdown is the political equivalent of a 'rage quit,' leaving kids and families to suffer as collateral damage.

Gary Cameron/Reuters
Government shutdown: Rachel Young, a member of the Family, Career and Community Leadership of America group, poses in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on day one of the government shutdown, October 1.

Today parents searching for a way to put the government shutdown into words their kids can understand might want to look to video games and the Urban Dictionary for the answer that Congress just “rage quit” the game we could title “The Battle of Obamacare,”  leaving kids and families to suffer as collateral damage.

This observation comes courtesy of my youngest son Quin, 9, this morning.

“Uh Mom, the newspaper has the Capitol building upside down and says our government shut down today,” said Quin, 9. “Somebody at the paper seriously messed up.”

For Quin it was more likely that a major newspaper could flip the Capitol and get the facts upside-down rather than grasp that Congress has driven the nation into a partial government shutdown in a blood feud over President Barack Obama's health care law.

I explained to Quin that the paper had it right, Congress is fighting over a law and because they couldn’t settle their differences, about 800,000 federal workers are off the job and most “non-essential” federal programs and services are shut down today.

“Oh so they rage quit,” Quin said. “I get it now.”

To “rage quit” is a common video gamer term the Urban Dictionary defines as, “To stop playing a game out of anger towards an event that transpired within the game.”

Son Ian, 18, read the paper and said, “Great! So they just GGed the government.”

When I looked blankly at him he said, “When you rage quit you just type GG and sign off it means ‘Good Game.’”

It’s basically a high-tech tantrum. Nobody likes a rage quitter, according to Ian who is an avid online group gamer.

There are those who don’t approve of allowing kids to play video games. However, I am seeing another side of it as I look at Congress today because my sons do cooperative online gaming which allows multiple players to quest by working together towards the same goal.

Congress has just performed a monster rage quit that is impacting families right now because while the programs may be deemed “non-essential,” the jobs, daycare, and food supplement programs that shut down today are vital to families.

WIC, a Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children is part of the collateral damage in this political game.

Fortunately, according to Business Insider, “School lunches and breakfasts will continue to be served, and food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will still be distributed.”

ForKids, a non-profit that helps homeless families here in Norfolk, Virginia, is bracing for the worst today, according to Bill Young, chief development officer. “Our program is not talking about wealthy families postponing their trip to Yellowstone,” Young said. “We don’t know the extent of what’s actually happening versus implications. There is a deep concern that the most poor have no safety net, so any elimination of critical services like nutrition or child care will have an immediate impact. There’s an implication that WIC, HUD and daycare offices will be closed, but the offices are open today. Although some are reduced hours. We are bracing. There is no good alternative to the elimination of child nutrition and child care programs. There is nada.”

According to PIX11 in Washington, D.C., many parents who still have paying jobs to go to can’t because Head Start funding is cut off which means some daycare centers and preschools which are funded in whole or in part by Head Start are closed today. More than 1,000 others face cutbacks in hours or programs, and could possibly shut their doors if the government shutdown were to wear on.

Looking at the big family picture this means that in many families everyone is home today on a forced vacation and nobody is happy about it.

Even families on regular holiday, who are not affected financially by the shut-down, are affected as our national parks shut their gates.

Now that Quin has me looking at the shut-down in video gaming terms I suddenly I see a future in politics for my sons.

I also see that members of Congress are in the wrong game session. They should be furloughed to a room full computers where they can learn to cooperate and the only damage they can do to our kids is in a virtual world.

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