Are you an optimist, pessimist or realist?

Friday - 4/25/2014, 2:00am EDT

Mike Causey, Senior Correspondent, Federal News Radio

Download mp3

Do you generally view the world through rose-colored glasses that give you a pretty picture and happy outlook? Or do you see things through your own lens and realize, based on experience, that a potential train wreck is just around every corner.

Here's a way to see if you are an optimist, someone for whom the glass is always half full and life is good or a pessimist, who knows that every silver cloud has a dark lining.

How do you see these two items:

  • Front-page/prime time news reports that 1,100 Internal Revenue Service employees got $1 million in cash awards even though the IG says they had "tax compliance problems". The workers were also given 10,000 hours in free time-off, presumably for good behavior. Interestingly, the story broke right around the April 15 file-or-else deadline. Outrageous or ho-hum?

  • A new report from the Office of Personnel Management says that the pay gap in government between men and women has narrowed significantly over the past two decades. In 1992, federal women on average earned 70 cents for every dollar paid to male employees. Now, according to OPM, women on average are paid 87 cents for every dollar earned by men. Progress or an outrage?
You Could Say: Most of the coverage of the IRS focused on the fact that a large number of employees had tax problems and were among 2,800 workers with "substantiated conduct issues" that resulted in disciplinary action. One way to look at it is, this was a tough tax season. New rules, forms changed and were printed late because of Congress. The IRS is handling more returns with thousands fewer employees. Plus, while the workforce has been shrinking (and the population growing) IRS, as it was offering early- retirements, had to hire 850 new people to work on the Affordable Care Act. That's not that many bad apples in such a big barrel. Or...

You Could Say: The people who see that we pay our taxes on time, or else, should be extra careful in doing their own. Of course the tax code is complicated. A recent Secretary of the Treasury, now back on Wall Street, messed up when he did his own taxes. But the IRS, we were told, is held to a higher standard. Awards and paid time off for tax deadbeats?

When talking about the male-female pay gap, opinions are all over the place. Some say it is an outrage and blame the administration for failing to keep its pledge to make government service "cool again." For both sexes. Two recent columns on the subject prompted lots of comments. The majority were that progress is being made, but men and women are different! Or that there will never been true pay equity unless and until the government (and society) finds ways to mentor, train and keep women in the loop while they are at home raising a family. It would also help to have some men (as in fathers) around the house.

So what's the deal? What's your take on either, or both?

Our Your Turn radio program recently featured two perspectives on the pay gap issue. One from Janet Kopenhaver, with Federally Employed Women, and Pat Neihaus, president of the Federal Managers Association.

Two very interesting, different takes on the problem. Listen when you can. Let us know what you think!


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

Alexander Graham Bell may have invented the telephone, but he didn't come up with the greeting most people use today to answer the ringing device. Bell's preferred way to answer the phone was "ahoy-hoy." However, Thomas Edison, an early adopter of the device, always answered with "hello."

(Source: Today I Found Out)


MORE FROM FEDERAL NEWS RADIO

Photos: Kids take over White House
On Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day, children of White House staff and press had the chance to ask any questions they wanted to First Lady Michelle Obama. The kids asked everything from who helps take care of "First Dogs" Bo and Sunny, to what Mrs. Obama likes best about her job and if she ever gets lost in the White House.

Senate report: Former DHS IG 'jeopardized' office's independence
In a report issued Thursday, the Senate Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, says Edwards altered or delayed reports to accommodate senior DHS officials, sought outside legal advice in violation of the laws governing agency IGs and failed to recuse himself form some audits despite concerns over conflicts of interest involving his wife, who was also employed by the agency.

New rule allows TSP to garnish wages of former feds to recover debt
The Thrift Savings Plan could stand to collect more than $500,000 in unpaid debt thanks to expanded authority to garnish employees' pay even after they leave federal service. A final rule published in the Federal Register Wednesday will allow the Treasury Department -- on behalf of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which runs the TSP -- to garnish the wages of nonfederal employees who owe the TSP money.

Senator wants next OMB director to be familiar with federal workforce
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the chairman of a key congressional panel with oversight of the federal workforce says he wants President Barack Obama's pick for White House budget director to "possess a background in federal workforce and governmental oversight issues." Earlier this month, Obama nominated the current director of the Office of Management and Budget, Sylvia Burwell, to take over for Kathleen Sebelius as the head of the Health and Human Services Department.