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Federal follies: We’re going to pay for bonus vacation time

POSTED October 12, 2013 1:04 a.m.

Federal employees are different from you and I.
When the working stiff in the private sector or at the state and local level gets furloughed they do so without pay.
That’s not how it works in Uncle Sam’s world.
Not only will the 1.3 million federal workers considered essential and are still reporting to work eventually get paid but apparently so will the 800,000 who were considered non-essential and were sent home Oct. 1.
The House, on a 407-0 vote, agreed to provide full back pay to the 800,000. The bill is now in the Senate and the White House has indicated President Obama supports the move.
This will strike you as a bit more than ironic if you’ve lost money during the past six years due to being furloughed at work, had your hourly pay cut, hours reduced or lost your job while federal employees during the same time got annual pay raises.
Not only does your empathy for federal workers caught up in the shutdown go out the window knowing they are essentially getting an extra paid vacation on your dime but you’ve got to wonder whether Congress has more nuts than an 80-acre almond orchard.
Furloughs in the real world are used to save a company from going under or a non-federal government entity from going bankrupt. Workers buy into it because the goal is to save the company or government entity so they will have a job tomorrow. In Washington it’s about scorched earth politics.
At this point no one in Congress or occupying the White House is without blame. Regardless of whether you believe the Republican goal is noble, they are hypocrites. If they are really worried about long-term entitlements ultimately sinking the economy then why don’t they show the same zest for “de-funding” massive tax credits for big corporations and rich people?
The Democrats like to say they’re for the little guy. It takes two to tango to put in place big fat tax credits for special interests. And caring about the little guy is noble but what if you put in place unsustainable spending patterns that will ultimately crush the little guy?
Then there is the White House which supposedly is overseeing the day-to-day operations of the federal government.
They have done everything in their power to maximize the pain of the shutdown on the average American.
The prime example is the Cliff House in San Francisco. It is very clear that the Cliff House can continue operating as a restaurant without imposing any strain on the federal government. But they have been forced to close because they are a concessionaire on Golden Gate National Recreation Area land while the smaller restaurant next door can stay open because they signed a long-term lease with the federal government.
As a result 170 Cliff House employees are now without work and will never receive a penny of their wages lost during the federal government shutdown.
One doesn’t wish any ill befall a federal employee financially. Besides, the federal shutdown wasn’t something they forced.
But there is no reason in this case to shed any tears for them.
They will be whole once the shutdown ends.
As for everyone else, that won’t necessarily be the case. Those who have lost tourism jobs dependent on national parks being open won’t ever retrieve any of the wages they will lose from being sent home.
Much ado is being made as well about various government-funded entities such as non-profits that provide social services being hurt.
While the money spigot is being turned off, once cash starts flowing again they will be made whole. It is what has happened in previous shutdowns.
So who ends up being hurt financially either directly or indirectly? Basically it is anyone who is working for a living who isn’t employed by the federal government.
Everyone in power back in DC has been crying wolf. It is clear every federal worker will not only be made whole but 800,000 will essentially have received bonus paid vacations. That said, it begs the question, what will happen if there is no debt deal?
The odds are as economic predators go a debt default would be the real deal in inflicting serious long-range pain.
But given the shutdown charades and the political posturing inspiring both sides to cry wolf so many times that we’re starting to tune it out, the British Army could repeat their 1812 visit to Washington, D.C., and we’d ignore it as being nothing more than a political stunt to try and get our sympathy.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or (209) 249-3519.

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