Some effects of the current government shutdown are obvious; for one, the million or so employees on furlough. But others are more subtle and may affect teens in ways they don't anticipate.
In the aftermath of the shutdowns, many services that normally seem of minimal importance are making themselves felt by their absence.
Ironically enough, until the shutdown ends, we won't know just how the shutdown is affecting the economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics was shut down, meaning that those monthly reports on unemployment, job creation and other aspects of the economy won't be coming out. Economists rely on this data to make predictions; without the bureau's reports, confidence in the market might suffer, dropping the value of stocks and bonds.
Utah's most valuable tourist attractions are its five national parks and October is tourism season; the summer heat is over, but the winter weather hasn't yet begun. Shutting down the national parks and monuments, especially at this time of the year, thus creates a ripple effect. Not only are park officials not being paid, but frustrated tourists are leaving early or not arriving at all. This then hurts local businesses which rely on money from park visitors, which causes the negative effects to spread through entire surrounding communities and beyond.
October also marks the beginning of flu season. Flu vaccine creation is always subject to a certain amount of educated guessing, but even more so this year. This year's strain of flu vaccines have already been distributed, but since the team at the Centers for Disease Control -- which monitors the vaccine -- has been shut down, no one's sure how effective the shot is or if flu-ridden areas have enough supplies.
Have a debate speech to write? You won't be able to back it up with data from the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the National Science Foundation or the Bureau of Economic Analysis -- they're all closed; even their websites aren't being updated. That means that historians and researchers can't access 90 million items on 540 miles of shelves in the Library of Congress, and that scientists aren't getting their National Science Foundation grant money, affecting researchers all the way to the Southern Ocean. October is the beginning of the summer research season in Antarctica, but such research costs money, which the scientists aren't receiving.
Perhaps most pertinently for teenagers, colleges may be affected by this turn of events. Although Free Application for Federal Student Aid should still continue to function, Pell Grants and student loans may be slowed, and applicants to the Air Force and Naval academies, or West Point, have parts of their application processes out of commission, even as the deadlines loom.
The federal government often seems so ubiquitous it is almost unnoticeable, like a machine that goes overlooked until it breaks down. Such a mind-set is especially prevalent among American teenagers, who consistently show lower levels of political knowledge and engagement than older generations.
I hope that this shutdown will have at least one upside. With luck, it will make more people -- especially teenagers -- realize that government is not just a game that takes place a long way from here, it's something that affects people every day in subtle and myriad ways.
Angelica Previte is a senior at Weber High School and an inveterate bibliophile. She can be contacted at email@example.com.