Feds as doomsday preppers

Wednesday - 8/21/2013, 2:00am EDT

One of the more popular, interesting reality-type shows on TV deals with people who are preparing for the end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it. They are doing rainy day planning on steroids. They are preppers.

The individuals and families on TV go well beyond the recommendations that we should all have a stash of food, money, medicine and cash just in case. The in-case could be a weather event, terrorist attack or natural disaster. Two years ago in the Washington, D.C., metro area, we had an earthquake followed by a hurricane in the same week! The Washington Monument is still under repair.

washington monument

The Washington Monument, under repair, during the Fourth of July.

Stuff happens!

The TV preppers are a bit more serious. They're in it for the long, long haul. They prep for a long haul, maybe permanent, change in the way we live. Or not.

They are building or buying bunkers, castles, forts or mobile homes to enable them to ride out or escape from a societal collapse. It would be a major economic meltdown, war, disease, electromagnetic pulse (EMP) or something that shutdown your local grocery store and gas station. One family of non- drinkers believes that whiskey will be the coin of the realm come the bad old days. They've got more booze than the Jim Beam cookworks in Kentucky.

I've seen one where a prepper, anticipating either a war-triggered cosmic-caused EMP, is ready when the lights go out. Another expects a volcanic eruption at Yellowstone that will produce an extended global winter. These aren't just odd fellows hiding in the hills of Tennessee or New Mexico. They've also had episodes on people in Houston and New York City who are planning to shelter in one place or flee on bicycles and foot.

What I haven't seen, but would be happy to produce and direct — for a fee — is a more realistic, immediate prepper problem. A show featuring normal federal government workers, in Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Covington, Ky., Sacramento or wherever, getting ready for a more likely worst-case scenario.

What do you do when the paycheck stops?

What if your salary was cut off for an indefinite period? What if you work for the government and a "tiff" between Congress and the White House — where millionaires are a dime a dozen — results in a government shutdown? Another government shutdown.

Feds in Defense, the IRS, HUD, the EEOC and EPA can tell you how it works on a small scale. Most of them have been furloughed — anywhere from five to 11 days — this year. In some cases, the furloughs were one day per pay period. For others, it was one day per week. In many households, — 30,000 by some estimates — feds had to borrow money to meet their rent or mortgage, tackle school or medical costs or pay the bills. Some people were (are) so close to the economic edge that losing "just" one day's pay is a disaster.

Furloughs are tough because feds can't take time off (like paid vacation) during a furlough. And they don't ever get retroactive pay for time lost.

Shutdowns are better, in some ways, because employees (it helps to be psychic) can get pre-approved vacation time. Also, in many (but not all) previous shutdowns, Congress later voted to make employees whole. Feds furloughed during the winter of 1995-1996 were paid for their time off.


New Health Plan Option, Reduced Retirement Benefits

President Obama's budget proposes that health plans covering federal and postal workers offer a third option: Self plus one coverage. So when would it happen, and how would it work? At 10 a.m. today on our Your Turn radio show, David Snell from the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association will talk about the option that would benefit couples without kids. He'll also discuss a congressional plan, backed by the White House, that would reduce the size of future cost of living adjustments for federal, military retirees and people who get Social Security benefits. At 10:30 a.m., Sean Reilly of the Federal Times talks about a possible government shutdown, the uncertainty surrounding the fiscal 2014 budget outlook and the fact that some groups — judges, FAA managers — are already asking Congress for relief from any CR that would leave funding at post-sequester spending levels. He'll also discuss the new GAO report on the Postal Service's plan to pull out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and the fact that unionized postal workers are getting COLAs and other pay increases after a long dry spell.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Nicole Ogrysko

The nation took a collective "aww" when pictures of the Obamas' new dog were posted, but some of our past presidents have kept some pretty unexpected pets roaming the White House. Herbert Hoover owned two gators, and Benjamin Harrison had a pair of opossums named Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection. To save a few dollars during World War I, Woodrow Wilson brought in a flock of sheep to help with the White House groundskeeping. Then there's Pauline, who made milk for William Taft.

Source: Mental Floss


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