With massive federal budget cuts looming just around the corner, citizens will be getting the chance to practice their do-it-yourself skills on a wide array of government services previously supported by their taxes.
For years now, Americans have forsaken professionals for everything from home-improvement projects to pizza-making. Weekends once spent relaxing are now devoted instead to installing new floors, tuning car engines and performing plastic surgery on each other.
The debt ceiling and deficit reduction package passed into law this week will provide even more opportunities for individuals to showcase how self-reliant they can be.
Already, the temporary shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is allowing airline passengers to pitch in and help guarantee the safety of their flights. The furlough of air traffic controllers gives travelers the chance to demonstrate their vigilance and the quality of their eyesight.
“We don’t really need experts sitting in their ivory towers telling us when it’s safe to land. That’s elitist,” said Republican Rep. Carl Schmidt. “We have perfectly good windows that passengers can look out of to see if any nearby aircraft pose a collision threat.”
Some will even be asked to shinny down a narrow ladder to the cargo hold, where they can open a door to see if any planes already sit on the runway where they’re planning to land.
“That part will be voluntary, just like people are asked if they mind sitting in the emergency exit aisle,” Schmidt said. “We wouldn’t want children, the elderly or the infirm to lose their grip and tumble out of the sky.”
As agency heads scour their departments for ways to slash payrolls, other opportunities for those wishing more self-governance are likely to present themselves.
“I can imagine all kinds of volunteer services being needed,” said Herm Johnson of the civil service bureau. “There are enough unemployed people out there — or those already working who simply want a new hobby — to find the labor to replace federal workers.”
Among departments already slated for layoffs are the FBI, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the U.S. Mint, the Secret Service, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the Animal Health Inspection Service.
Applicants for non-paying positions in these agencies are already lining up for the chance to serve their country in its time of need.
“I wanna work at the FBI,” said Alvin Baker of Atlanta. “I’m already an amateur female body inspector and I think I could move smoothly into doing it full time.”
“I like animals,” said Cletus Monroe of Tupelo, Miss., who expressed interest in an agricultural inspection role. “I like to look at cows.”
“There’s a color copier down at the library, I think,” noted Rick Pearson of Cleveland. “I’d be glad to run off some twenties and fifties so we can get rid of those blood-sucking fat-cats at the Mint.”
“I’d volunteer for the Secret Service,” said skinhead Reece Jones of Tempe, Ariz. “That Muslim Socialist Nazi African-born Communist president needs my kind of protection.”
Jobs in the NRC, CDC and MSHA might be harder to fill because some could consider working with radiation, infectious diseases and collapsed mines to be “less glamorous.”
“Maybe we could get some folks who have already been diagnosed with fatal diseases,” said Johnson. “We can really cut back on safety expenses if we don’t have to care that workers will survive each day. Productive work like this can give meaning to those lonely, final days of terminal patients.”
“And,” he added, “I can see some savings in social security benefits we won’t have to pay out to those who die who would otherwise become elderly.”