Irony in the park, good vs. evil, to leak or not to leak, lessons of the ignored sibling, and postcards from around the world.
President Obama today proposed a pay freeze for federal employees for the next two years. It's a pre-emptive strike in advance of Republicans taking control of Congress. Many in the GOP have vowed to reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent.
Obama says his move will save $5 billion over the next two years. The pay freeze will not apply to the military.
There are about 2.1 million federal employees (including the military). The number has grown in recent years. Nextgov.com analyzed why:
There were fewer federal workers in 2009 than in 1990, 1980 and 1970. Now take a closer look at the OPM table. Much of the growth, understandably, occurred in Homeland Security agencies, increasing from 70,000 to 180,000 - a jump of 110,000. Justice Department jobs went from 98,000 to 113,000 -- more than 15,000 new jobs added. (Again, crime and more Homeland Security related.) Jobs at the Veterans Department increased from 220,000 to 297,000 -- that's 77,000 more federal workers. Again, a result of Homeland Security, or rather staffing up to take care of thousands of veterans coming home from two wars. And there's a lot of information technology jobs in there.
Almost all of the new jobs created were as a result of 9/11, the analysis said. Compared to the 1980s, federal jobs in agriculture, education, and the Treasury have all declined.
But back to the freeze. Will it work? Here's some napkin math:
There are (and this is debatable) 1.43 million federal workers.
A savings of $5 billion per year is the goal.
The average amount being forfeited by a federal worker is $3,496.
The current deficit is about $1 trillion.
On a per-dollar basis, the president's move cuts one-half cent for every dollar of the federal deficit. That doesn't quite reach the level of a drop in the bucket. It also assumes that the cost of benefits doesn't rise.
Would the Republican plan do much more? The average federal salary is about $68,000. Annual benefits, reportedly, cost $40,785 (this may include benefits under the GI Bill). The total saving from cutting 10 percent of the civilian workforce would be $15.5 billion or a penny and a half per dollar of the deficit. That, however, doesn't factor in the cost of lost income taxes and the cost of firing employees.
What else needs to be cut?(9 Comments)
If we had a "cool" tag on News Cut, we'd have to apply it to this tribute to Luke Bucklin, the Sierra Bravo (now The Nerdery) co-founder who was killed in a plane crash in Wyoming last month. It's a large picture of Bucklin made out of Legos.
It was the work of programmer Dan Piscitiello:
"I started by taking pictures of all the different colored Legos in Brick House, then I took color samples of these images into Photoshop so I would know the color palette I was dealing with. For the picture of Luke, I just pulled his Nerdery profile picture off our website. After that it was ten or so steps in Photoshop as I played with different color schemes, posterization, and dithering options. At that point I enlarged the whole thing, placed a grid that represented individual pixels and hit print."
Running out of Legos was the biggest setback he faced and some days he'd spend a few hours scrounging The Nerdery looking for the pieces he needed, the company's blog reports today.
Nothing says "fun" like a wad of fat stuffed in collagen casings.
The "Fun Lunch" for Marcy Open School in Minneapolis today turned out to be "crackers, a beef stick, peaches in syrup, and yogurt," a parent reported to me today after she checked out what was in the "fun lunch" that appeared on the sent-home school lunch menu. "They had a choice of a pizza stick or a beef stick," a school spokesperson confirmed for me this afternoon.
The beef sticks are billed as "all natural." Check out the label, though. They'll keep until November of next year.
"This sounds like something you get when you are drunk and only have $.59 at The Holiday Station, not something to feed children who do not/cannot bring a nutritious lunch from home," the parent said.
Minnesota schools are at the front lines of the battle against fat, an MPR series last March proclaimed. It noted that Minneapolis schools removed "all fryers from schools so french fries are no longer available. Cookies have also been removed from menus."
Beef sticks? Still good. But the students may not have the same opinion. A table in the middle of the lunch room -- where students put the food they don't want -- was reportedly full of "beef sticks" and yogurt today.
Last month, the beef stick manufacturer -- Klement -- recalled 2,800 pounds of beef sticks after a retail chain reported consumer complaints about finding hard plastic and pieces of glass in the meat. Today's meal was not part of the recall, however.
Bob Feller, shown above at a Cleveland Indians spring training game I attended in Arizona last spring, was admitted to a hospital today. He has pneumonia. He's 92.
His health took a nosedive not long after that picture. He has leukemia. He has heart problems. Now he's got pneumonia.
The chances are we'll never see the likes of a Bob Feller again. He's the only Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The day after Pearl Harbor, Feller gave up baseball and enlisted in the Navy.
When he came back to Major League Baseball in 1946, he won 26 games and had an ERA of 2.18. He spent his entire baseball career with one team.(5 Comments)