Feds Sleeping on the Job

Tuesday - 10/26/2010, 4:00am EDT

It is currently fashionable (and in some cases politically expedient) to knock bureaucrats as an overpaid, underworked drain on the economy.

Numerous news stories and editorials confirming the above have appeared in the national and local media. As a result the lame duck session of Congress is likely to consider (maybe okay) a federal pay freeze and furloughs next year. Even the president has said he will consider not filling some vacancies next year and study the pros and cons of a federal furlough.

Meantime, our stories on the subject produced the following confession from a State Department type who admits sleeping on the job during last winter's snow storm which shut down much of the Nation's Capital. His confession is followed by comments from other feds about proposals to trim government costs. First, Confessions of the Sleeper:

  • "I worked the Haiti Earthquake Relief Task Force at the State Department this past February (at the height of our 31 inch snowmagedon) when the government was shut down. I slept at work for a whole week knowing people would not be able to come in because of the snow. If we're laid off, who'll man the task force when a disaster occurs because congress (with all their infinite wisdom) furloughed us? " Fed-up in DC

  • "Mike...On the surface, a furlough, pay freeze, or possibly an annuity furlough for retirees will save some money - at least on the surface. Much of the savings will be lost to overtime costs when critical work not done during a furlough has to be accomplished on top of ordinary work loads.

    "Also, these measures will mean the affected feds and possibly the retirees will not be buying those light durable goods like washing machines, autos, and microwaves that represent the foundation of our economy. At a time when consumer confidence is weak and people aren't buying much in the first place, a move like this will have the effect of extending the current recession, not to mention the effect of the panic factor from such a move.

    "Finally the thought that a move like this would be acceptable if the politicos 'fall on their swords' along with us is a fallacy. The people pushing this kind of stuff will be well taken care of by the sugar daddies that got them their jobs in the first place." Gary Cummins, Port Townsend, Wa

  • "Mike - I retired after 30+ years as a fed plus a tour with the Marines in Vietnam in 1968, went to college on the (then) paltry GI Bill and eeked out a living a various field offices for 10 years before landing in a central office with higher grades but more difficult policy work. I remember the 0% 'raises' during Reagan's terms while he doubled the national debt and brought on the S&L collapse, the stampedes from federal service to the private sector during boom times, barely being able to afford a house and send my kids to college in the 1990s, and the miracle of locality pay which finally feds in D.C. a reasonable rate of pay. All the while the private sector eliminated defined benefit pensions, slashed health care coverage, and gave massive executive bonuses to executives; taking one giant step backward while the public sector held firm. And now we're the bad guys? Here's a riddle: why do people spending millions of dollars to win House seats paying $150,000 a year? Answer: earmarks, e.g., using taxpayer dollars to set up nonprofits which appoint you to their boards when you retire with your fat pension from Congress. If hyprocrisy was money we would be the richest country in the world. " Robert M.

  • "...furlough talk is not new to old time feds. In my 30 years, I have gone through 3 different furlough timeframes and 3 different RIFs (reduction in force). Fed workers and especially military and civilian retirees seem to be Congress' answer to any and all financial woes. Feds weather the storms and keep the country running and safe." JV

  • "Mike, I have a slightly different perspective and way of thinking on the furlough talk. People keep mixing apples and oranges when they talk about economic suffering in the private sector and furloughing government workers. The two issues have nothing to do with one another. I think we can agree that overpaid or underpaid Feds are generally 'middle class' folks. Forget that we work for the federal government because it shouldn't matter, basically what is being proposed is a tax increase on a single sector (middle class sector) of the population that amounts to 4% of our salaries. Why should this segment of the middle class population be forced to bear the burden of government over spending? Why don't they have the guts to raise all middle class american's taxes a few thousand dollars a year?" Bill Spruce