Shameful days for government

In the past, we have praised the treatment we have received from Maui’s contingent of Transportation Security Administration agents at our airport.

Last week we had to make a quick trip to Honolulu for a meeting. Once again, every agent both here and in Honolulu was professional, efficient and friendly. Of course, the only problem is they are not getting paid for the essential function they provide in keeping us safe from possible terrorists.

We made it a point to thank every agent and apologize for our politicians using them as pawns in this shutdown fiasco.

This week we have watched and read warnings from folks associated with Air Traffic Controllers, TSA and the Airline Pilots Association that the shutdown is making our airspace less safe. Folks who already have stressful jobs now have stress at home, wondering how they are going to pay for mortgages, medical bills and groceries. Those worries may affect their ability to perform their jobs.

Even the U.S. Coast Guard that has the unenviable charge of protecting us from smugglers and other assaults from sea is not being paid. The Coast Guard also has to handle rescues at sea.

It is simply unconscionable that agencies that are in the forefront of protecting our borders are now among the biggest victims of a fight over border security. The inanity of these side effects should make every national political leader ashamed.

Whatever the final outcome of this shutdown, the deal must provide a provision that a government shutdown can never again be used as a tool in political fights. The 800,000 federal employees and hundreds of thousand of contractors who are not being paid must be protected from political fights.

These are dark days in the history of our country. We must vow to never repeat them.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.