(LIN) — By now you've at least heard the word "sequestration," regardless of if you've figured out what exactly it means.
The $85 billion in automatic spending cuts is slated to happen on March 1, and it is a terrifying cloud hanging over many Americans, many of whom have government jobs.
But what if you don't? What if you work at Chick-fil-A, own your own travel business or are a stay-at-home mom?
It's quite possible even you will not be able to escape the effects.
Here are five ways the sequester will annoy you:
Air travel delays
As if standing barefoot in a smelly line only to have TSA workers check out your total body scan in X-ray form is enjoyable, things could get much worse. The TSA's airport security budget is going to get slashed by more than $300 million, which means your wait in funky-feet line could be even longer. But that's if you're lucky to find a flight. Among the 47,000 TSA employees expected to be furloughed this summer include air traffic controllers, meaning smaller airports could see significant delays, or experience temporary shutdowns.
Get used to tofu
If the sequester happens, meat inspectors' furloughs would mean meatpacking plant shutdowns across the country for an unknown period of time. Although all plants wouldn't shut down at the same time, access to your favorite carnivorous dish could be harder to come by and much more expensive. It might not get better once the inspectors go back to work, though. Plant shutdowns would cause $10 billion in production losses, and some smaller plants may not be able to afford the stop in production, possibly closing their doors permanently.
Buy a mask
While the country won't erupt into multiple pandemics, there will be significant medical cuts across the board. A total of $1.6 billion in cuts is expected across the board, which means a significant reduction in cancer and biological research. Along with that are cutbacks in immunizations, HIV tests and tracking of infectious diseases.
Got storm damage?
It may not be hurricane season, but if any devastating storms sweep through your state in any capacity, don't look to FEMA to help. The sequestration is expected to cut $375 million from FEMA's disaster relief budget, meaning it will take quite a bit of time to get federal aid from natural disasters.
Yellowstone will have to wait
Planning a fun trip to a national park this summer? You might want to double check it will be open before making the trip. Approximately $110 million will be cut from the National Park Service budget, meaning potential closings and delayed openings.
You may not think the sequester will affect you. After all, it's just politicians going pointing figures at each other over some exorbitant and unfathomable amount of money in Washington D.C.
But familiarize yourself with the words "trickle down." Even if your job isn't one of the more than 2 million jobs at risk because of sequestration, your job – at the very least, your daily routine – could feel the effects.
Gen Y is a weekly opinion piece covering issues that matter most to younger, influential voters through their late 30s. Jessica O. Swink, a 20-something, is the digital political producer for LIN Media and contributing editor to onPolitix .
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