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It's okay, 800,000 U.S. dispensable civil servants, President Barack Obama still loves you

U.S. federal parks and museums, like this one - Washington's Museum of American History, are closed due to the government shutdown.  (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

Nearly 800,000 inessential U.S. civil servants who have been shut out of their jobs have got to be having a bad day - not only are they not getting paid, their government has declared they are dispensable. 

While the U.S. Congress and Senate continue to wage war over Obamacare - shutting the U.S. government down for the first time in 17 years -- it is costing the American economy about $1 billion a day.  

The U.S. government is the biggest employer south of the border with 2 million federal employees and 1.4 million active in military service.

In an effort to reach out and soothe those effected by the U.S. government shutdown that started midnight Tuesday, President Barack Obama has written a letter to his employees, reports Time magazine's political reporter Zeke Miller.

"Today, I wanted to take a moment to tell you what you mean to me -- and to our country," reads the Oct. 1 dated letter.

He goes on to thank everyone for the work they do which is "vitally important" to national security and the economy on everything from protecting civil rights to guiding thousands of people each day through Yosemite national park to the Statue of Liberty.

"You do all this in a political climate that, too often in recent years, has treated you like a punching bag. You have endured three years of a federal pay freeze, harmful sequester cuts and now, a shutdown of our government," the letter said.

"None of this is fair to you."

Obama continues by saying choosing a career in public service is a proud and noble profession. In fact, he said more than 50 current or former federal employees have received the Nobel Prize.

He then points out that America should be putting partisanship aside and focusing on the greater good. To illustrate this, he quotes former U.S. President George H.W. Bush. "There is nothing more fulfilling than to serve your country and your fellow citizens and to do it well. And that is what our system of self-government depends on."

Then he blames the Republican dominated Congress for the problem.

"This shutdown was completely preventable. It should not have happened. And the House of Representatives can end it as soon as it follows the Senate's lead and funds your work in the U.S. government without trying to attach highly controversial and partisan measures in the process."

In the meantime, if any of those employees who can no longer watch the Washington National Zoo's "panda cam" - turned off because of the shutdown -- but who want to keep track of how many milliseconds they are missing at work, National Public Radio is running a "Shutdown Counter" on it's website. 

Tanya Talaga is the Star's global economics reporter. Follow her on Twitter @tanyatalaga




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I am a federal government employee, and I found his platitude laden letter - full of "pro-business" propaganda - characterizing our jobs as mostly people who help make big-business (even, in the letter, Google) successful, rather offensive. Where I work - the Mine Safety and Health Administration, we are under no illusion that our relationship with big coal businesses, like the miners themselves, is, by necessity, adversarial.

"National Public Radio is running a 'Shutdown Counter' on it's website."

TO Star, your credibility is on the line. Please study the above sentence; spot and correct the mistake. If I'd read this in the SUN, I could let it slide, but not here.

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