Life and Lemons

You know, lots of folks seem to be focusing on the 800k "unnecessary" employees furloughed.  On how amazing it is that the government has this many non-essential employees, what good they are, what they actually do, etc., etc.

I've got a few thoughts about the situation.

First, keep in mind that "non-essential" does not neccesarily mean "useless".  Just because Sally or Bob got furloughed, that does not mean that the job they were doing had zero value.  What it does mean (at least, ideally) is that the job they were doing was something that could be postponed for a while.

Think about it this way - there are many different kinds of inspections, reviews, audits, and the like that various agencies are responsible for.  If the shutdown only lasts for a week or two, their work schedule gets pushed out a couple of weeks.  Yearly inspections that should have been done this month get done Job next month.  If your job involved you being part of a multi-year or even decade-long process that can be put on hold for a bit without any serious consequences... well, welcome to an unpaid vacation of indeterminate length.

So a lot of these folks are not useless employees; they're employees who's work can be easily suspended for a while.  Yes, I am sure that there are some functionally useless federal employees that got furloughed.  Just as I am sure that there are some functionally useless useless federal employees that are still managing to collect a paycheck. Despite that, a lot of them are simply people who were doing useful, but not urgent, work.  Work that the federal government just can't pay for at the moment.

Now that you have that thought in mind - that "furloughed" does not mean "useless" - try looking at it this way.  As of Tuesday, there are nearly a million people who are at least temporarily out of work.  A lot of these folks are highly-educated, well-trained and experienced individuals who also happen to have a lot of experience with how the federal government does business.

And right now, they are getting seriously screwed over by their current employer.

How many of them do you think might - just might - be interested to hear about opportunities in the private sector?

This sort of thin happens all the time in the private sector, doesn't it?  Just a year or so ago, there was a major tech company in Pittsburgh that folded up its local office and laid of umpteen-hundred people.  When they organized a job fair for the departing employees, other companies jumped at the chance to attend.  "A few hundred well-educated, talented, experienced folks who are looking for a new job?  Heck yeah, we'll be there!"

Here's a chance to reduce the size of the federal government, at least temporarily.  Not by forcing them to cut jobs, which seems to be all but impossible; but just by hiring away the people that they've laid off.

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