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(Washington Post)   Washington DC had a little bit of rain and slush yesterday, so naturally government offices closed. What did this teach us? Well, there are an awful lot of self-identified "nonessential employees" lounging about the city. Budget cuts, anyone?   (washingtonpost.com) divider line 15
    More: Obvious, District of Columbia, austerities, Settlers of Catan, rains  
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3010 clicks; posted to Main » on 07 Mar 2013 at 12:13 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-03-07 12:43:17 PM
5 votes:
Non-essential doesn't mean what you think it means, subby... it means if they put off their work for a day or two, it's no big deal, my friends over at the GAO are mostly non-essential. That doesn't mean that the government doesn't need any accounting, or that their role in finding fraud and waste is unimportant, just means that nobody is going to die, suffer from safety issues, or have immediate problems if they stay home for a day. I know it's really popular to vilify government workers as not having real jobs, but the reality for most government workers is that they took a pay cut to move from private industry because they thought the government would be a more stable employer. Our beef with the government should be about waste, and from experience, better than 90% of the waste isn't with government employees, it's with private contractors who have buddies in congress, the senate, and the WH. From billion dollar defense go-nowhere boondoggles to paying top dollar for substandard/dangerous housing for troops, the problem doesn't really lie with the secretaries, accountants, USDA inspectors, or CDC doctors.
2013-03-07 11:05:19 AM
4 votes:
First, there was some snow, just not as much as forecast.

Second, there are a great many people in this area that have no idea about or experience with driving on roads covered in snow and slush.

Three, I'm willing to bet that payroll employees and most IT folks are considered non-essential, yet the essential folks would be none too happy to see those non-essentials leave.
2013-03-07 12:32:01 PM
2 votes:
Growing up in that area - I can say weather is wacky like no other place I've lived.  There are many instances where they can't decide if it's going to be 2 inches or two feet and every ten years or so they get it wrong and decide to send people out in the weather.  People get stuck in their cars and they can't make it home from work.  Sometimes they die because they're stranded.

And that's when the government really takes shiat about their snow day call.

So that's the decision to be made: do I put people's lives at risk or do I just call it for the day and take the political heat?  They made the right decision.
2013-03-07 12:18:24 PM
2 votes:

Endive Wombat: How about the national weather service needs to get their shiat together and stop crying wolf every time a storm comes through.


I work for the NWS and have a degree in meteorology, but I'm not a forecaster. These storms are notoriously difficult to forecast. If the cold air doesn't quite penetrate as far south, or the low moves as little as 50 miles east, then forecasts for a foot of snow bust entirely. It's very tricky. Add to that that the local Weather Forecast Office (Sterling, VA) sees a lot of forecaster turnover, you don't have a lot of experience in forecasting these types of events. Consequently, what looks like a huge storm ends up being a total bust.
2013-03-07 11:58:56 AM
2 votes:
Sure, let's fire all the receptionists, assistants, accountants, Directors, research personnel, HR staff, National Park workers, Curators at the Smithsonian, cafeteria workers, custodians, middle managers in every government office, SS caseworker, VA doctor, etc etc etc.

Great idea.
2013-03-07 01:19:24 PM
1 votes:

Bendal: Commuters to the DC area have one of the longest travel times on average of anywhere in the US; up to 90 minutes one way. That means commuters are coming from western PA and WV to work in DC, places that got hit really hard by this snowfall. Considering that all of NoVA was expected to get over a foot of snow, it made a lot of sense to close offices ahead of the storm.


Nah. This is a "government always bad, no exceptions" thread. So what if a few people might have died had they been on the roads during a snow storm? Government is bad, all government employees are lazy, and none are needed...
2013-03-07 01:06:39 PM
1 votes:

AverageAmericanGuy: There are a lot of non-essential employees, but it might better to lose them to attrition and just not backfill their positions than to try to cut them all at once. Shoving a bunch of otherwise unemployable government workers into the work force is just going to make things worse for everyone else.


The Federal civilian workforce is approximately the same size that it was in 1985.   Source.
2013-03-07 12:54:35 PM
1 votes:

SurfaceTension: Endive Wombat: How about the national weather service needs to get their shiat together and stop crying wolf every time a storm comes through.

I work for the NWS and have a degree in meteorology, but I'm not a forecaster. These storms are notoriously difficult to forecast. If the cold air doesn't quite penetrate as far south, or the low moves as little as 50 miles east, then forecasts for a foot of snow bust entirely. It's very tricky. Add to that that the local Weather Forecast Office (Sterling, VA) sees a lot of forecaster turnover, you don't have a lot of experience in forecasting these types of events. Consequently, what looks like a huge storm ends up being a total bust.


And vice versa. In the years I've lived in the Northern Virgina I've seen as many storms that were "no big deal" stall out over DC and dump twice what was expected. And the winds were howling yesterday and last night so it's treezapalooza with all the heavy, wet snow. It came down like potato chips and popcorn and goose-down for some time, but it was too warm and wet so it turned immediately to a slushy mess. Could have been a whole lot worse.

Bottom line is this: You'll get a whole lot more grief if you under-predict than if you over-predict.
2013-03-07 12:47:45 PM
1 votes:

Bendal: Commuters to the DC area have one of the longest travel times on average of anywhere in the US; up to 90 minutes one way. That means commuters are coming from western PA and WV to work in DC, places that got hit really hard by this snowfall.


People have to commute to DC because living in DC means you are either making around 100k or willing to live in a run down mouse infested apartment house.

"Hey come live in DC where 'cheap' rent is only $900 a month without utilities!"
Meanwhile minimum wage in the area is 7.25 with most DC area workers making in the $10~14 range.  Lets see, so you make around $1500 per month.  $900 goes to rent $150 goes to gas and electric.  Leaving you with $450 per month for every other expense you may run across (bus/subway fare, food, clothing, etc).  Hopefully you didn't get sick and lose out on a three or four days worth of pay.

Meanwhile you can get a house in West Virginia for around 100k.  Have a mortgage of 700~750 dollars and not have to rent. I think the choice is clear for many people.  Rent for 900 or own for 700.
2013-03-07 12:45:43 PM
1 votes:

tenpoundsofcheese: SurfaceTension: Three, I'm willing to bet that payroll employees and most IT folks are considered non-essential, yet the essential folks would be none too happy to see those non-essentials leave.

I am willing to bet that the payroll process is automated and people get their checks like clockwork with any intervention from "payroll employees".


I'm willing to bet that you don't have the first clue whether your speculation is anywhere close to accurate. Opinions based on unknown facts are invalid.
2013-03-07 12:43:32 PM
1 votes:
Go suck on a Luger, subby.
2013-03-07 12:35:34 PM
1 votes:
You could layoff 80% of these layabouts and there'd be no discernible impact on the government's already piss-poor productivity levels. But no, budget cuts will RELEASE DANGEROUS ILLEGALS and CAUSE DELAYS WHEN YOU TRY TO FLY and other scary stuff the New York Times can print in large type.
2013-03-07 12:24:26 PM
1 votes:
We got 8-12 inches, and we're only about 90 miles from DC as the crow flies. And we weren't at the edge of the storm effects. People much closer got plenty. So I'm giving the forecasters a pass.
2013-03-07 12:17:08 PM
1 votes:
There are a lot of non-essential employees, but it might better to lose them to attrition and just not backfill their positions than to try to cut them all at once. Shoving a bunch of otherwise unemployable government workers into the work force is just going to make things worse for everyone else.
2013-03-07 11:48:20 AM
1 votes:
How about the national weather service needs to get their shiat together and stop crying wolf every time a storm comes through.
 
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