Explaining the Shutdown to Your Kids

Don't worry kids, it's just the government

  • Share
  • Read Later

Hey kids, we know all this talk about the government shutting down is confusing. We’re here to help explain what’s going on.

You’ve probably seen all kinds of families — your own family or a friend’s or a neighbor’s — get money from the government, pay taxes to the government or complain about how the government won’t let them do this or that. And you may have a lot of questions about what happens — or doesn’t happen — when the government shuts down, as it may on Tuesday.

Like, what happens to firemen and policemen who get paid by the government? Will garbage men still come to pick up the stinky trash on your street? Will mommies and daddies who work for the government be in the mood to buy you new Legos? And what is a government shutdown anyway?

A good way to think about the situation right now is this: the federal government runs on money like a car runs on gas. Lawmakers couldn’t agree on where to go or which route to take, so they ended up driving in circles and reading Dr. Seuss books to each other until they ran out of fuel. Some parts of the car will still operate without gas, but many won’t.

If the government shuts down, the most important things will still get done. Soldiers and other members of the military who help protect America will still keep us safe. The Post Office will still deliver letters. Air traffic controllers will still help planes land safely at airports. And your old or disabled relatives who get things called “Social Security checks” will still have money for bingo.

But many services will stop. The government won’t issue as many documents that allow foreign people to visit our country, poor people might not get food stamps to buy groceries, and governments scientists won’t be monitoring the spread of disease. Places that belong to the federal government, like national parks, will have to close during the shutdown. So that long car trip to Yosemite that your family was planning next weekend may be off.

Many government workers, like public school teachers and firemen and police officers, are paid by local governments or state governments. If the federal government shuts down, it shouldn’t affect their jobs. You will still go to school (unless you’re part of a program like Head Start that depends on grant money from Washington). The policemen in your town will still look for bad guys and firemen will still put out fires. But many federal government employees won’t be going to work.

There are two types of mommies and daddies who work for the federal government and might be affected by the shutdown: non-essential and essential workers. Essential workers are like the ice cream in a ice cream sundae; non-essential workers are like the toppings — great to have but not the most important ingredients. The toppings people will be told to stay home from work and may be grumpy because it’s unclear whether they will get paid; many may act like your uncle when he’s had too much “silly juice.” The ice cream people, like the President and members of Congress, will still go to work.

The government has shut down many times before, so don’t worry too much. One time in the year 1995, the federal government was closed for 21 days. Eventually lawmakers should come to a compromise that gets the car back on the road.

But just to be on the safe side, you should probably get those requests for new Legos in now.

76 comments
ДмитрийРаскалов
ДмитрийРаскалов

YOU STUPID IDIOTS still don't know anything about Canadians do you????? And stop comparing our Quebecers to French form France. We don't think and act like them. Proves how ignorant you guys are.

MylahW.
MylahW.

The government needed money in order to keep running like it should, but because the government didn't have any money nor could they agree on anything to prevent the shutdown from happening in the first place, even though the president does still goes to work everyday  does not mean he has to but since he is the president he has to do what is best for the people of the nation, everyone that works for the government (most important people) go to work until all the money they need is back where it needs to be so this hopefully wont happen again.

pamelamarcelin
pamelamarcelin

I live in the french part of Canada, and the whole invasion question was really stupid. Also, in Québec, we don't hate Americans.

SallyChandler
SallyChandler

Dear kids,

The Government has shut down because the two groups of "grown ups" who we elected to run the government refuse to get along. Even though Mom, Dad and the neighbors may say it's the fault of one group, neither group is better than the other because they all refuse to play together nicely.

I suggest you go to the library and find out who the persons are who were elected to represent you and your neighbors. Then write them each a letter either online or on paper asking whatever questions you want to. They don't seem to be listening to the grown ups who elected them right now, maybe they'll listen to you.

mrhappy9989
mrhappy9989

notasocialist shut up read the story don't have a fit just because one little thing

notasocialist
notasocialist

This is a rather offensive, nonsensical article.  As a spouse of a federal employee, he is not acting like "an uncle".  We have saved money back for emergencies such as this shut down.  He is essential, and when he does return to work, it will be piled up on his desk.  The things I find offensive - congress and your president still get their pacychecks! 

Many things have been shut down. Federal landmarks.  The whitehouse is a federal landmark.  It should be shut down. Really, to put barriers around outdoor statues?  And say one party did it?  When it costs money to put them up and hire someone to stand there to watch it? It is a ploy to make people angrier and try to blame opposing sides.   Obama's idea of healthcare - did any of you actually read it?  I did.  Scary stuff.  There are also sneaky ways that we ALL will be paying for it with various hidden costs such as in buying and selling your home. 

We have a son and he will not be reading this article.  

biggieleaver
biggieleaver

Why not just tell the children the truth? i.e. The government is being run by men and women who are blinded by greed and power. Most public officials (elected and appointed) are serving without Constitutional Oath's of Office, so are impersonators who have usurped the offices.

JulienBenney
JulienBenney

There is no doubt that, unlike in Australia where governments effectively allow the mineral companies to become the owner of the country to their own interests regardless of the severe costs to an exceedingly ancient and fragile ecology, governments in the northern and western hemispheres take almost all of the extremely limited land and mineral wealth into their own hands. 

This has great costs as far as the ability of these fertile lands to retain their human capital, which seeks minimal regulation if it is to live in places where it can be ecologically sustained. Unlike in Australia and Southern Africa where inaccessibility and the efficiency of farming pancake-flat land with fertilisers discourages conservation, the Enriched World has a large supply of mountainous, cold terrain that is a magnet to visitors and would be fully preserved without regulation. The same applies to garbage and waste: the generally high density of Enriched World cities naturally means high economies for regulation compared to Australia. the same to transport planning, double so with the political situation in Australia.

panchasenior82
panchasenior82

What a sad state of affairs!  It is evident the Republican Party is trying to derail the carefully-crafted health care proposals of President Obama.  Further their arguments are thoroughly unconvincing. Here is a President who is trying to provide healthcare to all, ensuring fairness to all especially to the middle-class and the poorer sections of American society. By shutting down the government partially, the Republicans are showing how out of touch they are with reality. The irony is that the longer the crisis lasts the longer the back-lash on the GOP. 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

This is what happens when a party ignores the results of the last two national elections and still insist on forcing their right wing agenda on the country.

squeekywheel
squeekywheel

I would tell my kids the truth. Pelosi urged everyone to accept a healthcare before anyone ready it. In it is some things like if you are in your 70s like grandma and get cancer you don't get treatment. Also the people we pay our taxes to who work with numbers will be the ones who evaluate our health and tell us what to pay for our individual healthcare. If mommy and daddy cannot pay it they may go to jail. Basically we are like a third world country and our government is too big. Our president doesn't know how to lead and more people are doing drugs and committing suicides in record numbers. We may all move to costa Rica like to find the real American dream. Now lets go visit your grandparents ,they might not live much longer on obamacare.

JjMontague
JjMontague

Explaining the shut down is simple enough: Our elected representatives are too busy fighting among themselves. They are refusing to do the job that we pay them to do. What this means is that when the next elections come around, we will not be voting for anyone who is currently holding office. 

CaraClaudel
CaraClaudel

Even though Communism has killed over 100 million people in the last century and caused horrific suffering for hundreds of millions more, liberals keep thinking the ideas can work, that a small group at the top can know what's best for hundreds of millions of people and make their decisions for them.

Even though libert and free enterprise turned America from a poor rural country to a rich global superpower in under 200 years, liberals insist liberty is evil because some people end up richer than others. Nevermind the poor in America are richer than the rich thoughout most of human history in terms of access to food, water, education, health care, technology, and entertainment..

DRH
DRH

Time magazine is now written for people who are dumber than their children.

How teh might have fallen.

NoSugarCoating
NoSugarCoating

I just told my son that republicans didn't want poor people to have a doctor. At 8 he already gets it since his best friend broke her arm and had to wait about a month before a doctor would set it and put a cast on. He asked why people would do that, and I just explained that there are evil people in the world, and unfortunately, we have to live with them.

gdogslim
gdogslim

Well litlle Debby, here is what happened, 

Evil Democrats and Harry Reid's Senate shut sdown the government, NOT Congress. 

Obama will negotiate with terrorists in Iran, ARM AlQaedda terrorists in Syria. BUT Refuse to tell the truth about Benghazi.  REFUSES to negotiate with American politicians OR PASS a BUDGET AFTER 5 YEARS!   You now might not get free lunch because of Harry Reid and Obozo.

swaaaaaaaaaag
swaaaaaaaaaag

salty thou so this mean no food stamps :( :( :'(

ramanan50
ramanan50

Nice write up.

Let's see how this impacts the US so called non essential services.

Most of the things might probably be for the good like scientists  not scaring people of imagined diseases,

State governments' relevance and their ability to exist independently of Washington will be high lighted

Though some jobs will be lost ,the States may accommodate them.

As things stand the Motto Private Industry sustains will be put to test.

NicolePoppic
NicolePoppic

Unless your daddy is part of that ice cream topping, at which point you might notice your mommy didn't sleep last night because she is worried about how she can possibly keep things up and running if the ice cream decides it can go without the toppings for any extended amount of time.....

taangerinee
taangerinee

Wait..I don't understand the 'foreigners not getting a visa' part.. like I payed almost $300 or more for my Student Visa (F1)? As far as I know, every foreigner pays at least more than 100 for a Visa..

1916
1916

"Canada is generally peaceful". Unlike their warhawk neighbors. Besides, Canada was invaded many more times by the 

states and their colonial army. 

Speaking of money your government would have alot more if not for mindless disasters like Iraq.

Get a clue from more civilised people. 
.

SteveFolino
SteveFolino

It's easy to explain.  The American people have given the government an allowance with the expectation that that's all they have to spend.  The Democrats keep spending their entire allowance and want to borrow money against next weeks allowance.  What they don't realize is that they can't keep doing that forever.

The Republicans on the other hand believe that not only should they spend only their allowance, they should spend less and save some of it for a rainy day.

tsvskibum
tsvskibum

Everybody is under the mistaken belief that the tea party wants smaller government, what the really want is NO government. Tuesday they'll get their wish, no government.  No one to force them to do the right thing. No one to make their fat cat corporate friends not denude our public lands.  No public lands for that matter. What the tea party wants is no taxation and no government

spcbillions
spcbillions

@DRH Remember that one time, where the dude was like, "Time magazine is now written for people who are dumber than their children."? And the very next sentence had a misspelled word? Yeah. Good times.

notasocialist
notasocialist

@NoSugarCoating You don't work,you don't eat. And it isn't that Republicans don't want good healthcare.  The AMERICAN people dont want socialized medicine.  If you want that, move to Europe.

NicolePapalia
NicolePapalia

@NoSugarCoating Way to be non-bias with your explanation to your son. Good luck raising an adult who is unoriginal and cannot justify his beliefs!

JjMontague
JjMontague

@NoSugarCoating . Wow. Just, wow.   Closer to the truth would be to explain  that some people think that it's okay to take what our family earns and give it to someone else who didn't earn it.  That means that we won't have the money to pay for braces for you, since dental insurance only pays for a small part of the cost of braces.  We also can't fix the roof, so I'm afraid we're going to have to move your bed so that the rain doesn't fall on you at night.

NotaChance
NotaChance

@NoSugarCoatingNo, your kid's friend didn't get a cast because your kid's friend's parents are evil.  There isn't an ER in the country that would turn a kid away.  And if the parents REALLY couldn't afford it, the friend would have Medicaid.  If they don't, then they just love their money more than their kid.  PERIOD.

NotaChance
NotaChance

@taangerinee Because the government is ABSURDLY inefficient, it costs more than that to issue a visa.  No kidding.

SuperWittySmitty
SuperWittySmitty

@1916 Canada is like a big park- it's nice, pleasant, and innocuous. No one expects too much from it, but's it does have its entertainment value. Don't get too carried away with yourself; no one is looking to Canada for ideas or for direction. They follow, co-exist, and bask in our energy.

NotaChance
NotaChance

@SteveFolino If only most of the Republicans really believed this.  Sadly, they spend just as much most of the time.

I'd go for a balanced budget amendment with an allowance for national emergencies.

pcncyh
pcncyh

@SteveFolino 

Get your facts str8 steve.  The Bush Admin let Greenspan and its failure to put measures to prevent market fraud for selling overvalued subprime mortgages to the world as triple A securities until the world recession hits. Obama took office and reign in the previous administration failures to halt the downslide of America's economy and did what he could to prevent another depression. Now the economy is slowly coming back with lower unemployment and the world's economy is recovering ok. So now what does the GOP and their appendaged Tea Party want to do, shut down the government. ..Why? Spite ...The US is coming around and healthcare should be the fundamental right of all Americans. Wow, Steve, how would you like remortgaging  or selling your home to pay for a heart operation and then moving in with your kids after retirement 'cause Obamacare was brought down?  

christian452326
christian452326

@SteveFolino It takes a majority vote to pass spending bills and as I recall the GOP still holds the house(though after this I'm not so sure that will continue), actually a majority of Americans would blame the GOP for the shutdown, lay off the Fox "News" Steve

Think_again
Think_again

@SteveFolino 

Actually, the Congress already spent the money -- with the approval of the Republican House -- and now they are threatening to refuse to pay the bills they have already incurred. 

Don't mislead your kids, Steve.

squeekywheel
squeekywheel

No they are lead by a democratic black woman that states she wants a fair gov. And that we are a constitutional republic and always have been. And she's right. Change and amend the constitution you have less freedoms. It worked for 200 plus yrs and as soon as we fkd with it the carp hit the fan. We teach our kids we are a democracy now. China is a democracy. What we are headed for is not anything like what we had and that's because someone wanted change. Hows that change working so far?

JjMontague
JjMontague

@tsvskibum  I don't know where you get your facts. Most of the Tea Party types that I know (those who went to the first round of rallys) want a Fair Tax System put into place, and they want the Federal Government to do  it's Constitutionally mandated job. They want the Federal Government to STOP doing jobs that it was not Constitutionally directed to handle, and to leave those things to the 50 states.  That's it.

small_axe
small_axe

@tsvskibum They want the world in the Book of Eli. They claim to be Christians on the one hand, but on the other call for a kill or be killed, dog eat dog world in which no one has any responsibility to any one else. Disgusting human beings.

squeekywheel
squeekywheel

People disappear there when they speak out...

squeekywheel
squeekywheel

Sorry,need flash. While Obama was in senate and housing market was in trouble he instead of doing something about it tried to pass a holiday for Muslims in Nov. That is what he thought was important. He is on another page constantly. Obama voted 3 times to pass a bill that would not allow a that unwanted child any healthcare if the child was aborted late and was in need. This is the guy who wants to pass obamacare. Obamacare does not give treatment or coverage if you are diagnosed with cancer and your in your 70s. As an intelligent person I'm sure you can see what's going on here. Its not left or right. Its just all wrong. If it was so good congress would be on obamacare too. Just face it.

megalon98133
megalon98133

@pcncyh  Whoa whoa whoa the mortgage crises exploded when bush took office - it was created during clinton's office by dodd and frank. get YOUR facts straight.

KatelynGaffney
KatelynGaffney

@pcncyh Let me stop you right there, the government wasn't aware of these "toxic loans" until Fannie and Freddie started to collapse, they then did everything in their power to fix them without government intervention. The banks were trying to fix the problem they created, but in the end the toxic loans were just too much. Not long after, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, they too being caught up within the toxic loans, and the government fearing moral hazard let them collapse. Only to then fear systemic risk when AIG was also found to have been part of these toxic loans, and because AIG is a GLOBAL provider of property casualty insurance, life insurance and retirement services, and mortgage insurance, were they to collapse the world economy wouldn't be far behind. So they had to be bailed out. Move on to Obama who began bailing out everyone. Please tell me how succumbing to systemic risk helped our economy? Last time I checked we now have to deal with moral hazard. "Halt the down slide of America's economy and did what he could to prevent another depression" What? How did bailing out everyone help the economy? Last time I checked that made everything worse. (Just in case you don't know what systemic risk and moral hazard mean I'll give you a generalized definition. Systemic risk is the fear of the collapse of the entire  financial system or entire market, as opposed to risk associated with any one individual entity, group or component of a system. In economic theory, moral hazard is a situation where the behavior of one party may change to the detriment of another after the transaction has taken place. For example, a person with insurance against automobile theft may be less cautious about locking their car because the negative consequences of vehicle theft are now (partially) the responsibility of the insurance company.) Let's hold everybody's hand in the business world, because that can't possibly lead to any problems. Way to go Obama, way to go!  Rant over...

BobBridge
BobBridge

@pcncyh @SteveFolino  Explain to me how Obama has not punished those responsible and today we having a growing market of new risky subprime mortgages.  Oh that's right Obama is God mea culpa.

tsvskibum
tsvskibum

@JjMontague if the congress passed a law and it was found constitutional by the United States Supreme Court, as well as lower courts, then by definition the law is constitutional.  A law doesn't become unconstitutional because a group of wing nuts, like the tea party say its unconstitutional.  Our government is based on due process.  Do not like a law follow the process: introduce a law, get it passed, defend against challenges to its constitutionality, then its the law of the land. Acting like a rude jerk, calling people names, acting seditiously(sp?)  are not following due process within the frame work of the Constitution and not what the founders envisioned.