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Heyl: Shutdown shouldn't cramp your style

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Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Admit it. You can live without the panda cam for a while.

So there's no reason to get into an uproar over the government shutdown. The impact, at least initially, is minimal.

Yes, it's an outrage that Washington lawmakers who couldn't agree to fund the government value posturing more than governing, but we shouldn't be perturbed over their dereliction of duty without first getting perturbed at ourselves.

We elected this less-than-august assortment of buck-passers. When their districts were gerrymandered to virtually ensure their re-election even if they flicked the off-switch on the government, we didn't notice. We were too immersed in “Family Guy” reruns.

So we are experiencing a federal shutdown that we indirectly helped cause. What's the big deal? The few significant local shutdowns that occurred recently proved to be survivable.

The Pittsburgh Mayor's Office essentially shut down in March, when an intransigent part of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's personality blocked him from continuing his just-announced re-election bid. No one seems to care that Ravenstahl since has been scarce around City Hall, although his aides reportedly resort to using a hand puppet with a stapled-on picture of the mayor's head when they need to consult him.

The Steelers shut down last month when a core group of players determined that age, lack of speed and inability to block and tackle left them no choice but to prevent the team from winning. This stubborn group has drawn a line in the sand and insisted the shutdown won't end until they are replaced with younger, more talented players.

If you can make it through the Steelers' shutdown, you should have no problem with a government shutdown. Consider some of the immediate impacts, none of which should prompt you to throw a beer toward the TV:

• National Zoo

The panda cam is dark. If this is a huge loss to you, see the forced break for what it is: extra time to be more productive on the job and one less reason for Human Resources to summon you into the office to discuss your workday Web surfing.

• Internal Revenue Service

The agency isn't able to perform audits until the shutdown ends. If you're a tax cheat, are you aghast over this delay?

• State Department

The processing of some passport applications might be delayed, but it's not as though the vacation season is at its peak. Take the kids out of school for a weeklong trip to Belize this time of year, and their guidance counselor will read you the riot act.

• National Institutes of Health

The agency stopped answering medical questions on its hot line. No big deal. People can self-diagnose their potentially serious afflictions via Google or WebMD.

• National Park Service

More than 400 parks and museums are closed until further notice. Until they reopen, the odds of your being mauled by a grizzly bear during a camping excursion to Glacier National Park in Montana are virtually nonexistent.

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or

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