What if these are the good old days?

Monday - 7/15/2013, 2:00am EDT

Mike Causey on "In Depth" with Francis Rose

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Here's a horrible thought to kick off your week and, if handled properly, maybe ruin the rest of the year for you. The thought is this:

What if these are, in fact, the good old days for federal workers? The happy time — often in our youth — when we recall that people were nicer, the air was cleaner, politics weren't as dirty and your clothes fit much better. A time when people didn't laugh, or look away, when you walked on the beach.

Those happy days when a mullet was just a fish!

Could it be that this time next year you will long for the relatively carefree period when all you had to worry about was paying 2013 health premiums, rent and food bills on your 2010 salary?

Will you, this time next year, be longing for the good old days when you were only furloughed every other Monday or Friday. The good times when you were encouraged and allowed to work all 10 days of a pay period. And get paid for the same.

When sequestration was devised, politicians said it better not happen or wouldn't (because it couldn't happen). Wrong!

Then, when it became apparent that it would happen, some predicted the nation, the economy and the stock market could come to a screeching halt. Wrong again, at least so far.

What has happened is that tens of thousands of federal workers have lost pay because their agencies had to furlough them even as other agencies found ways around furloughs. Some high-profile operations were exempt from furloughs. Others, like the IRS and Defense Department, did it.

DoD is generally the lead agency when there are major changes in federal employment or job deployment. It led the way with buyouts, the merit-based pay-for-performance system and other personnel changes.

DoD managed to delay furloughs while some agencies were having them. And it managed to reduce (at least so far) by 50 percent the number of estimated furlough days. As long as DoD hangs tough, that is a good sign for many other agencies.

But last week the Pentagon formally told Congress what some experts and union leaders have warned about for some time. The worst may be yet to come. As in layoffs — reductions in force — replacing furloughs in the new fiscal year.

In a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlined the Pentagon's Plan B strategy which could kick in October 1, the start of the new fiscal year. Hagel is a former senator, and while not wildly popular with many of his colleagues, his credentials are good, and his actions, so far, have been impressive. Unlike many political warhawks, Hagel has actually been a boots-on-the-ground soldier. He's the first enlisted man to head the defense establishment.

So when he talks — or, in this case, writes — to the Oversight Committee, they listen.

Lots, of course, could happen. A new world crisis could derail Defense downsizing as it has before. But if it doesn't, many feds who are currently on furloughs may decide it is a good time to update their resumes.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

In the U.S., most pin-tumbler locks are designed for keys to enter with the teeth facing up. However, most locks in Europe require the opposite, with the teeth or "bitings" facing down.

(Source: Alan's Mysterious World)


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