“There’s not much further we can cut”?

Yes we can,

“Not much further we can cut” seems like a hanging curve ball, an open invitation for ongoing ridicule–the sort of naive assertion that might come easily to someone who had never worked in the federal government, who only realized after promoting his half-trillion-dollar public works-based stimulus plan that there was “no such thing as shovel-ready projects.” Or someone who doesn’t want to know. Or who wants to act as if he doesn’t know.

Here is the official list of federal job openings. They are still hiring. Sure, big enterprises keep hiring essential employees even in tough times. But these aren’t essential jobs. Many of them seem like the sort of job a private firm, in a financial crisis like the feds are in, would consolidate with another job or leave unfilled. (The first one that jumps out is the “Associate Administrator for Administration” at the Department of Transportation, which pays $119,554 to $179,700. It seems that this person will do administrative work to maintain the layer of bureaucracy that “coordinates” the DOTs research programs. The new hire will also give “advice and assistance in directing, coordinating, controlling” etc. this little fiefdom. You don’t have to be Peter Drucker to realize that this position does not have to exist.)

Part of the problem, of course, is that since it is virtually impossible to fire an actual underperforming federal employee, conscientious administrators have to hire new people (or consultants) to actually do the work the unfireable employees aren’t doing.

But there’s no sense, reading through this list, that the federal bureaucracy knows it is in crisis

Ace pipes in,

Let me note the dog that didn’t bark.

Have you heard any stories of older, more expensive federal employees losing their jobs during this budget crisis — as corporations typically do when they are hemorrhaging money?

Have you read any stories about departments drastically cutting back and looking for money-saving solutions — doing more with less, as they say, or “working smarter, not harder”?

Has the media been full of stories by weary bureaucrats complaining, like teachers are apparently instructed by their unions to claim, that they have to buy their own supplies to properly do their jobs?

Has there been any grousing that federal employees are missing expected pay raises and promotions, being forced to work at their old salaries through this crisis?

The answer is no.

The pivot to jobs, jobs, jobs, appears to be laser-focused on federal bureaucracy jobs. One of Kaus’s commenters points out,

Non-postal federal employment — about 10 percent of all
government employment — increased over the same period by 139,000
workers, or 6.7 percent.

(more…)

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