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Monday - 6/24/2013, 2:00am EDT

Here's the third in a series of guest columnists who — writing on their own time — are filling in the blanks while Senior Correspondent Mike Causey's on vacation. This one is from a long-time Social Security employee who has seen the civil service reinvented (also folded, stapled and mutilated) a number of times. Here goes:

I have received the same salary now for 3 1/2 years. We are looking at a possible 1 percent raise maybe after next January — maybe. Five percent of the federal workforce, with mortgages and children, is being furloughed as the value of our wages is diminishing with each passing year. Health care costs keep rising.

(As a bit of a nonsequitur: What's the effect of several million stagnant fed salaries on the national economy?)

The new strategy of cutting workers, also known as do more with less, is sophomoric. Managers dump more work and then harass employees to get it done. Two good examples of the results of this are the air traffic controllers and Office of Personnel Management's backlog on processing people's retirement applications. There are others, like Defense.

Political appointees, with no experience, come in with a new mousetrap (like new personnel systems) they read about in a book somewhere. They get to try these ideas that have never been proved at the expense of millions of feds.

A factor that will keep people from retiring sooner is the spousal benefit. When you take for your spouse, it is almost a 10 percent reduction in your retirement. Most people are factoring that into their decision.

As the years go by, the federal bureaucracy becomes more driven by efficiency models and less and less attuned to employees (salaries, retirement, lack of union representation, rising health care costs, attempts to raise employee contributions to many parts of the system). If there's an Environmental Protection Agency, there should be an Employee Protection Agency as well — and with some power. Right now, it's going the wrong way. Hell, they stole all the Social Security money and now they're going after the retirement funds.

The federal employee-evaluation model does not really allow people to defend themselves without being labeled a malcontent in most cases. Often, managers are merely technicians with biases of their own.

In the midst of this, we are properly charged to count our many blessings (jobs, families, friends, homes owned by the bank (ha! ha!), etc.). This side of eternity we are pilgrims, journeying toward that which can fulfill the finite caverns of our hearts and minds. — Publius


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

From Mental Floss:

"The USDA allows the term "wyngz" for wing-like chicken products that contain no wing meat.


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