published Saturday, November 17th, 2012

Necessary job losses

The federal deficit-cutting plan that will take effect starting in early 2013 if Congress doesn't take action between now and the end of the year is, on balance, a lemon.

The plan has some outright disastrous provisions. It would mean crushing tax hikes, for one thing. In Chattanooga, for example, it would herald an average hike of $3,000-plus per household in income and payroll taxes.

That's a sure-fire job killer and one of the fastest ways to ensure a return to full-blown recession, as more of the nation's economic output shifts out of the productive private sector and into the unaccountable federal maw.

But let it not be said that the budget-cutting plan is utterly without merit.

According to one study, by George Mason University's Center for Regional Analysis, close to 280,000 federal jobs would be eliminated over the next year or so as part of a 10-year plan to cut about $1.2 trillion in U.S. government spending.

Incredibly, that figure of 280,000 represents less than one-seventh of the bloated federal workforce.

And that is precisely the problem.

Predictions of doom if the job cuts actually happen ignore a more disturbing reality: that the size of the federal workforce has ballooned under President Barack Obama.

You think those 280,000 possible job losses are "draconian" -- or whatever other hyperbole big-government types favor these days? Then it might come as news to you that that is almost exactly the number of people who have been added to the federal government since Obama took office.

Cutting those jobs would merely get us back to the status quo slightly pre-Obama. And that is scarcely a great budget-slashing achievement, considering that the civilian federal workforce today teems with well over 2 million people.

Naturally, the opponents of federal workforce reductions paint the grimmest of pictures: Meat inspections will halt, they ominously predict, and aviation-related disasters will rise as air control towers go unmanned. They have less interest in publicizing the hopes for long-overdue reductions at disastrously unproductive agencies such as the U.S. Department of Education or the Department of Energy.

Nor are they particularly troubled by statistics indicating that it is almost impossible for a federal employee to be fired.

"The job security rate for all federal workers was 99.43 percent [in 2009-2010] and nearly 100 percent for those on the job more than a few years," USA Today found.

Yet the modest layoffs in prospect starting next year elicit baffling opposition and analysis, even from presumably impartial sources.

"Federal workers have weathered a two-year pay freeze, increased health insurance premiums, and threats of more cuts from Republicans," CNNMoney lamented. "Now their jobs are in jeopardy."

Wait a second! A mere two-year pay freeze and higher health premiums are supposed to outrage the American people and stir us to resist federal job cuts? Really? A show of hands, please, from every private-sector reader who has had a pay freeze of longer than two years -- if you have not been laid off outright -- and who has had to pay higher costs for health insurance. (Raise both hands if you're in an industry such as medical device manufacturing that has been hit with job losses directly related to Obamacare.)

This editorial page does not wish on anyone the pain of unemployment. The fault lies not mainly with the people who sought and obtained positions in this or that unjustified federal bureaucracy but with members of Congress who funded the creation of those bureaucracies in the first place.

Nevertheless, America's $16 trillion fiscal hole won't stop deepening until we stop digging. Any attempt to grapple with the national debt is pure fraud if it does not confront the immensity of the federal workforce and set Washington on a path back to its proper -- and highly limited -- functions.

15
Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.

You don't know why Federal Employment remains secure, do you?

It's to insulate the operations of government from political games. IOW, to keep them doing their jobs rather than be a tool for the latest guy in office.

But maybe you're so hyper-focused on your dreaded debt that you don't care if they do their jobs...no matter the price, you just obsessively have to keep on paying off that debt.

Thank you, but no thank you. I'd rather we fix our real problems in this country than chase after your pet obsession.

November 17, 2012 at 12:40 a.m.
rolando said...

Interesting take, bulbs. Nice spin but still "interesting".

Ever worked a federal salaried job? Or any other non-union, feather-bedded job?

Federal job security has nothing to do with "insulati[ng] operations...from political games".

There is essentially only one way to get a promotion within federal salaried positions; increase your responsibilities and thereby increase the number of employees under your direct and indirect supervision [iow, build up your bureaucracy].

That's how the federal workforce works. And no bureaucrat will allow his workforce to shrink because that is a slap in his face, status-wise. Protecting his workforce is protecting himself...that's why it is hard to fire the employees. If one is bad, they promote him, effectively moving him out...and verifying The Peter Principal.

November 17, 2012 at 8:16 a.m.
EaTn said...

To paraphrase the words of that once wise VP Cheney, the debt doesn't matter. If we stop paying the interest on that debt it will matter. National debt is not like personal debt--a person can't print money, legally. Our obsession with the national debt should better be focused on getting the unemployed back to work. Unemployment eats a country like cancer. The national debt is more like a broken leg. As of now this country is the most secure place for world financiers to invest their money.

November 17, 2012 at 8:22 a.m.
conservative said...

In the mind of a Liberal, America's debt doesn't matter, after all, we just owe it to ourselves.

Liberals overlook or don't care that "ourselves" excludes those who don't pay taxes, 47% and rising.

Yes, the debt doesn't matter to those who have no intention or have no responsibility to pay the debt.

Reminds me of that old saying about one who has owes a debt to another and has no intention to pay it - "I'd rather owe you than beat you out of it."

November 17, 2012 at 8:53 a.m.

rolando, really? Never noticed that experience at all.

I have noticed a few problems with bosses in other forms of employment though, where workers feared termination if their child got sick, and they needed to take them to a doctor. Where if they didn't comply with the bosses demands, termination would soon follow, ranging from not reporting a safety incident to extracurricular time. Or there's the person recently terminated because they took too much time helping a customer. Huh.

I wonder why my experiences include so many different things, but not what you describe.

But no, federal job security from the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act and other laws is well known. You may not believe it, you may have your own interpretation, but hey, you've believed in a lot of silly things, including the Birther nonsense and a few other things.

Sorry, but you've got no credibility, you gave it up.

EaTn, what, National debt isn't like personal debt? Who knew! Certainly not the people who think they're going to be personally liable for it.

conservative, in your mind, the debt is the only thing that matters, you don't care about the functions of the government, you don't care about the cause of the debt, you don't even care about a sensible solution to the debt, because solving it would take away your ability to use it as a scare-tactic.

November 17, 2012 at 9:43 a.m.
conservative said...

No doubt in my mind that the number of the unemployed in our country would be far less if those receiving unemployment checks had to do some work or community service in return.

My first priority would be making them nursing home attendants and orderlies in hospitals.

November 17, 2012 at 9:44 a.m.

You do realize that's an idea put forth by Communists, right?

November 17, 2012 at 11:02 a.m.
LibDem said...

280k in the unemployment line doesn't sound like a great option unless Bain is hiring.

conservative, I kind of like the community service business. Not everyone has money for taxes but there are other ways to contribute. The problem might be the creation of a new bureaucracy. We may be talking about people who require a lot of supervision. I may be the only guy in my neighborhood who picks up trash while walking. People look at me like I'm an idiot (and they're pretty perceptive).

November 17, 2012 at 12:07 p.m.
rolando said...

Translation of bulbs reply: "No, I have no experience with government salaried employment. All I work is by-the-hour, if that."

You never had any credibility to give up.

November 17, 2012 at 6:50 p.m.
rolando said...

But the "unemployed" are not really unemployed, EaTn. They receive regular checks from the government. The fact they don't work for it is immaterial...the gov will just print more money with which to pay them...and decreasing the dollar's buying power in the process. Gold is nearing $2,000/oz [again]...fiat money is pretty much worthless.

November 17, 2012 at 6:57 p.m.
ChattTN74 said...

rolando, which fed department(s) are you referring too?

November 18, 2012 at 6:32 p.m.

rolando, not seeing any dispute to the facts of my account.

But keep trying to hide your past conduct, I won't forget what it means.

November 18, 2012 at 7:57 p.m.
rolando said...

Pick one, Chatt.

November 19, 2012 at 9:41 a.m.
rolando said...

bulbs...not seeing any answers to the specific questions about your own background...but keep trying to conceal your [non-]working background/history.

We understand -- you don't have a history of producing anything but hot air.

Go back to your mom's basement.

November 19, 2012 at 9:45 a.m.
rolando said...

The TFP must be getting too many conservatives replying negatively to their junk -- Bennett, for instance -- and have drastically slowed down their input speed/transfer rate. Since we are both on fiber-optics, there is no other explanation [it is only the TFP that's slowed down].

November 19, 2012 at 9:59 a.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement
400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.