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Three Day Weekends

We are edging closer and closer to the zero hour when my husband and mother-in-law will find out if they will be affected by the furloughs and forced to take unpaid days off until the next fiscal year.  As a government contractor, I am thankfully not affected, as the funds for my contract have already been obligated and I can be here as long as there is a civilian or military supervisor also present.  We are lucky that if the furlough does happen, it won’t hit us too hard financially, but I’m obviously holding out hope that it won’t happen.  As far as solutions go, this is one of the worst.

furlough

I currently work for the Army National Guard, so I see a lot of figures and statistics dealing with our budget.  We have already cut down on unnecessary expenses such as trips out of state for conference attendances or classes, and we’re still left with dozens upon dozens of areas to cut funding from without touching anyone’s paycheck.  Obviously I can’t get into specifics regarding our budget and spending plans and patterns, but I feel confident in saying that I see enough areas that can be cut without disrupting business or the lives of people employed by us.  The only problem with picking and choosing where to cut is that it can get complicated.

The easiest route is to go ahead with the furloughs.  How much simpler can it get?  One day off per week without any type of pay equals lots of money saved.  It’s easy and doesn’t require much analysis or extra work.  With travel, for example, you will have groups fighting to get their travel approved by claiming it’s vital.  Since all travel can’t be suspended, you have to look at individual cases and make individual decisions.  With the furlough, everyone loses a day and that’s final.  You don’t have to lay off anyone, you don’t have to make exceptions, it simply is what it is.

Furlough-Friday

Cutting sixteen hours of pay out of a biweekly paycheck, after taking away overtime, is the absolute worst solution to our budgetary issues and will no doubt cause more harm than good.  The number of people directly affected by this is massive; all government employees along with their families are going to take a hit.  I suspect a sizable number of people will default on loans or credit cards, fall behind on bills, and find themselves struggling to make due.  Sixteen hours of pay doesn’t feel like much until you take it away.  I don’t see how the positives outweigh the negatives here.

I’m so let down that no better decision has been put on the table so we can avoid furloughs, especially knowing that better solutions exist.  If I personally need to cut my spending, I can trim down my groceries by choosing smarter items that will last longer, cut my cable and internet bill by downgrading to basic services, stop shopping sprees for luxury items, quit eating out during the week, choose Redbox over the movie theater, and so on.  I can cut spending without eliminating entire activities.  If this insignificant woman can figure it out, surely our government can.  Surely those brilliant minds can give us a fix that doesn’t result in decreased manpower and paychecks.  Right?

furloughday2

Well, as of March 18, 2013, that fix is nowhere in sight.  I have fully accepted that my husband will drop to a 4 day work week beginning April 22nd and will stay on that schedule until October.  I have complete faith that my government will fail to come up with a better solution and will sacrifice my family’s financial stability in order to save themselves.  I suspect that the people who are intelligent enough to see alternate solutions will continue to be the people who also have no say in what happens and who lack the power to make something happen.  I have lost hope, and that makes me incredibly sad.

Enough from me, what about you?  Are you going to be affected by the furloughs?  What do you think the impact will be if government employees are all forced to drop one work day per week?  Do you have a better solution that would allow us to avoid furloughs?

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About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on March 18, 2013, in Life, Money, News, Work and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Are you and your husband part of a Government Union? Usually the Unions toss the lowest members on the totem pole, no matter how good they are, under the bus first to protect those who have put in the time, not matter how bad they are. Rather than lower retirement benefits, medical benefits, pension plans or salaries, they find ANY OTHER WAY, whether that is sacrificing new union members or furloughing or something else that doesn’t make any sense.

    I see it as a punishment. It’s to remind you who to vote for next time. When it comes to full time workers in the private sector, a good company, which is to say a company that survives a recession, can always find ways to save money. Just freezing wage increases, nixing bonuses and letting positions die off through attrition can save a fortune, and nobody has to be furloughed or laid off to do those things. Companies can fill positions that must exist when employees leave or retire by paying less for the replacement, which is easy to do when so many people are looking for work. They can eliminate 401k matching, raise healthcare premiums, choose different healthcare providers. They can review their vendors and re-bid for products and services to get better products and services at lower prices. HR (or department heads) can review their files for underperforming employees and start the process of laying them off, of consolidating job functions with your star employees, etc… There are a 1,000 ways to cut costs without furloughing anyone. That is why, when I see a Government agency knee-jerk to furloughs, it can only be as a punishment because there are always…ALWAYS..other options, first.

    • No, he works for DFAS and his main responsibility is processing retirement packets for civilians. Our entire building will be subject to furloughs when they happen. I work for the ARNG and we will probably go through the same, although it remains to be seen. Furlough aside, his benefits are fantastic thankfully. We have been under a payraise freeze (as far as cost of living raises) for a couple of years now though, so unless someone is able to move up a grade, they are stuck. It’s just frustrating because there is so much money wasted on things we don’t need at the expense of people’s salaries.

      • I can imagine. There’s nothing worse than seeing money pissed away that you know could have been used for raises, bonuses, etc…

        In our business, it’s frivolous lawsuits. It’s a cost that is hard to control because you can’t control the number of people that want a “settlement” and see us as a big company that can pay for their next new car or Hawaiian cruise.

        Either way we lose. If we settle, they get a check from us that could have been used for a bonus or pay raise. If we fight, the cost of fighting is money that could have been used for the same. Fighting is always more expensive than settling, so from a strictly business perspective, it is sometimes cheaper to settle even if they are complete liars. Since we have taken a position to fight them all, it costs significantly more than settling, but it reduces the number of “bounty lawyers” as they are called. The ones that just go around looking for minor code and regulatory violations to bring actions against companies for a settlement check (that they get…not a person..since nobody was actually harmed by any of the violations). For some law firms, that is their entire business. But if you fight them all the time, it deters them as it becomes less profitable for them. And in the end, who pays for that? I do. You do. We all do. I don’t get a raise or a bonus, and you have to pay more for our service because these legal battles are part of our cost structure and since everyone in my industry is subject to the same lawsuits, prices are higher for all of our customers.

        And I’m not saying that all the cases are frivolous, but most of them are, and while we have done very well in reducing most of our other costs, this is one that’s just a lose/lose, that we have no control over, and costs us a FORTUNE every year. And why? Because the world is chock full of some seriously shitty people.

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