Uncle Sam suffering death by a thousand cuts

Tuesday - 3/26/2013, 2:00am EDT

Is the federal government, the military and by extension the economy (and you) suffering what is known as death by a thousand cuts?

One definition of it says:

"If something is suffering ... death of a thousand cuts, or death by a thousand cuts, lots of small bad things are happening, none of which are fatal in themselves, but which add up to a slow and painful demise."

Death-by-a-thousand cuts is supposed to be an ancient Chinese expression. But it sounds a little like what is going on in downtown D.C., at the IRS office in San Diego, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and Navy operations in Norfolk. Even at the White House. Lots of things — from deployments to maintenance and tours — are not happening because of sequestration. That's the poison pill the White House and Congress approved thinking the other guy would give in before swallowing it.

Friends and foes of sequestration obviously don't agree on much. But they probably would agree on one thing about the automatic spending cuts: Now that they're here, they're not quite what anybody expected. Or predicted. The stock market didn't crash and life, for most people, goes on.

There is the threat du jour from the Pentagon and other key operations about what is going to happen, bad and soon, if things don't let up. High-profile programs and services are, we are told, going to be severely hampered in short order. Maybe by the time Congress returns to town, from its current and most recent vacation, those long lines will develop at the nations airports. So what are people, those working directly with sequester restraints, saying. Let's check:

  • "So many examples come forth about wasteful spending on projects like robotic squirrels, human/elephant interaction enhancement and promoting food stamps in Mexico. It also is frustrating to think that many of us will be sitting at home, unpaid, through no fault of our own while hundreds of millions of dollars are sent to countries that hate us.

    "On a personal level, I know a civilian DoD employee (where the cuts are supposedly worse than anywhere) who was sent to Afghanistan to enhance his career. A lot was spent on training, equipment and travel to get him there.

    "Now, he regularly posts on social media about having nothing to do so he plays cards and takes self-defense lessons. I have not had a pay increase in three years, but I have no doubt a promotion is waiting for this bureaucrat when he returns.

    "We can't shift money around to alleviate the shortfalls because our government actually wants to cause us pain so they can turn around and blame their political opponents. Yes, a lot to think about while I'm not getting paid but continually getting more work added to my schedule. Which I will be expected to complete in less time for less pay.

    "At least I have a job!" — Just Call Me Unhappy at the IRS

  • "I know of at least one office that will have no furloughs simply because over the last 12 months, they had 15 percent of their staff either retire or transfer. Cuts are from authorized pay job positions not from the actual pay that's going out the door. Without the sequester, this money would have found its way to extra equipment and travel, just like in previous years. But this year, it will just disappear and no one will really notice. If it's happening in one office, I'm sure it will happen in many others. So the taxpayers really shouldn't sweat these cuts, at least not this year." — Anon

  • "These sequestration cuts are an old drill. Been there, done that. At the Energy Department, anytime we took a hit from Congress we trotted out our most visible, public program and said we would have to shut it down. Our congressional committee would react — even though they must have known what we were doing — and 'force' us, usually by giving us the funds we requested, to restart it. Worked every time. I am enjoying sequestration and fiscal-cliff jumping from the viewpoint of retirement." — Ranger Rick

NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

A petitioner on the White House's petition website "We The People" has asked the Obama administration to create a national "R2-D2 Day," to honor the "selfless" robot from the Star Wars films. "R2-D2 always seems to save the day, getting his Jedi masters and the forces of the Republic out of harm's way, and doing so with grace and humor," the petitioner wrote. "But the astromech droid never gets the full credit or honors he deserves for his deeds."

(h/t Slate)


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