What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. AFGE Local 1904. Here we are 16 weeks past the “end of max telework” and the union, such as it is, still hasn’t come through on delivering the new and improved telework agreement. So, we’re still grinding along with only two days a week like pre-COVID barbarians… as if 30 months of operating nearly exclusively through telework didn’t prove that working from home works. All this is ongoing while hearing stories of other organizations tucked in next door that are offering their people four or five day a week work from home options. It’s truly a delight working for the sick man of the enterprise. There’s probably plenty of blame to go around, but since the updated and perfectly acceptable policy for supervisors was published 16 weeks ago, I’m going to continue to go ahead and put every bit of blame on Local 1904 for failing their members (and those of us who they “represent” against our will) for not getting this shit done.

2. Missing motivation. You know it’s bad when I don’t even want to sit down and write. I do more reading on days like that, so it’s a bit of a trade off, but still, it’s not exactly good tidings. I’m assuming my current lack of being motivated by anything is part and parcel of the mid-winter doldrums when the yard is a mud pit, I see very little sunlight, and the temperature very rarely claws above 50 degrees. It’s about as bland a time of year as you could ask for and it can’t help, it seems, from seeping into my bones. The days, though, are ever so slightly longer than they were a month ago, so help on the way. Probably.

3. National sales tax. Republicans are currently hung up on pushing a national sales tax. If it were to, in fact, replace the current Byzantine income tax regime with a dead simple x% addition to the cost of goods and services, I could probably get behind it. What the whole program will end up being, though, is a sales tax in addition to an income tax. I mean even if, despite all odds against, Republicans manage to implement a sales tax and eliminate the income tax, does anyone really believe that some future Congress wouldn’t come back to the income tax trough so that John Q. Taxpayer ends up getting hit with both a federal sales and income tax? In the absence of a Constitutional amendment declaring for all time that income taxes are abolished, I’m a hard “no” on a national sales tax.

From the Mailbag: On Wisconsin

The Question: What are your thoughts on the recall election in Wisconsin?

The Answer: As a rule, I’m not a fan of recall elections. Every four years we go to a lot of time, expense, and trouble of electing our state governors. Thanks to a spastic media and more political blogs than anyone could ever possible read, we pretty much know what we’re going to get in a candidate. If someone, like Scott Walker campaigns on a platform of lowering the cost of state government, reducing its size, and decreasing the influence of public sector unions, well, it stands to reason that he’s going to at least try to do some of those things when he gets elected. Trying to recall the guy for doing something that you don’t like smacks of childish tantrum-throwing, especially when you’re going to have a regularly scheduled opportunity to throw the bum out in two years.

I don’t have any great love for public sector unions. As a teacher I was forced to be a dues paying member of one as a condition of employment. Even now, I’m nominally “represented” by a union, though it lacks the ability to negotiate pay or really do much of any substance. At least I don’t have to pay for the privilege this time around. As a public sector employee, I’d be up in arms too if the powers that be unilaterally decided to slash my pay, cut my benefits, or otherwise endanger my livelihood. Given the state of the federal budget for the foreseeable future, it’s an issue I’ve actually give a lot of thought to lately. After two years of a pay freeze, and a massive impending cut to my department’s budget next year, it’s not all that hard to see myself screaming bloody murder from the atop the barricades. Even so, I think history has proven recall elections to be little more than an enormous waste of money for everyone involved.

It’s a bad time to be a government employee at any level – local, state, or federal. Budgets are going to continue to diminish, services are going to be reduced, and the number of employees is going to decrease. The public is pissed at the politicians and the only group the politicians can kick with impunity are the rank and file government employees. From the tealeaves I’m reading, I get the sense that times are going to look a lot bleaker before they even think about getting better. Even so, I think there are more productive uses of my time and effort that playing the recall game. I’d find it much more satisfying to see someone’s reelection campaign go down in flames head to head against a candidate I support. I’ve always felt it was better to vote for something I believe it rather than just voting against someone I don’t like.

Not home, but close…

I’ll be back in the DC area for the weekend… Unfortunately, I’ll be stuck in a class the whole time I’m there. Something seems wrong with the first trip back to MD since December being to take a class. The next stretch of time off will be the end of March, and I’m happy to say I’ll be enjoying coffee and gelato in Italy.

So, when everyone is enjoying their weekend think of us poor federal workers stuck at the office. I wish I knew the bastard that started the rumor about government employees never doing anything ‘cause I want to punch him directly in the nose.