Compared to the government shutdowns during the Clinton administration, today's shutdown is more ideological, more bitter, and potentially far more damaging to the economy and outlook for business owners.

But for furloughed federal employees and their families, the practical effect is all too familiar. Last night's debacle in Washington moved Inc. editor-at-large Leigh Buchanan, who is married to a federal employee, to dig out this poem, which she wrote during the last shutdown.

Lament of the Federal Employee's Spouse
When first we met, I would have bet
That you had great potential
But now I know that isn't so
For you are non-essential.
I turned your head, your ego fed
With treatment preferential
But now it seems those were but dreams
For you are non-essential.
If you could sing a song like Sting
Or gab like Walter Winchell
Then there'd be cause for my applause
But you are non-essential.
That I'd find out there was no doubt
Discovery was eventual
But though it's queer, my furloughed dear
To me you're STILL essential.