The question isn't about whether individuals are "essential" or not. The question behind the shutdown is about whether the government has the legal right to spend money.
It isn't a mistake that our government has fumbled the right to spend money. It isn't trivial that our government can't agree with one another enough to set a course going forward - or that Americans are facing "cliffs," shutdowns, and threats of shutdowns more often.
Our fiscal situation is in shambles. It was made so by 42 years of deficit spending. We've also been spending without a unifying plan, without provision for continuity across changes in leadership, and without accountability for commitments made at the time taxpayer money was obligated.
We have a systemic behavioral and cultural problem. It got us where we are today and it's not showing signs of changing. This shutdown is a symptom of the problem, not the cause. Discussion about whether or not individual employees or government employees as a whole are essential is an attractive subject, but it is also a red herring.
No... I have no idea who Lee is.