I’m still digging out from the emails from last week—not to mention the short work week—so I thought I’d just offer up few random observations this time.
Let start with this week’s big event: Did anyone else notice this during the president’s inauguration speech? “We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit,” he intoned, all but conceding that maybe that monster legislation didn’t actually cut health care costs after all. Not that any of us are surprised.
Meanwhile, as The New York Times just reported, the president enjoyed a 51 percent job approval rating as Justice Roberts swore him in on Monday—versus a 41 percent disapproval rating. Better numbers than George W. Bush but marks not nearly as high as Presidents Clinton or Reagan. (And based on the forum comments around here, a helluva lot better than yours truly…) But it’s also strange he rates so highly when so many of us (rightly) question his handling of the economy and taxes—one of which is certainly growing more than the other…
Compare that to Congress—and yeah I know I’ve touched on this before, but it blows my mind every time. The same poll, conducted by the Times and CBS, gives Congress a 12 percent approval rating, against a 82 percent negative score. Ouch. Sure, just like with the president, some of it's certainly performance based—no one likes obstructionists, which is how most people see Congress. Whether it’s on C-Span in front of millions or in a staff planning meeting with a dozen co-workers, it’s never good office policy to be known as the “Negative Nelly.” Offering a solution every once in a while—instead of simple rejections—would do wonders for their PR. Just a thought.
We hear a lot about the growing size of the federal government (not a desirable development, by any means), but a closer look at the numbers reveals once again that facts aren’t as simple as the rhetoric. For the sake of maintaining the integrity of the data, I want to quote Mike Alberti’s piece over at Remapping Debate directly:
“Looking at the size of the federal workforce without taking population size into account is very misleading. Yes, 110 workers are more than 100, but if those 110 workers are serving 5,000 citizens instead of 1,000 citizens, the effective size of government employment has declined. Putting employment numbers in context is particularly important because of the common assumption that the federal workforce is much larger than it was a few decades ago. In fact, the contextualized picture shows that executive branch civilian employment is substantially down as compared with its peak in 1978. [emphasis not added]”
(By the way, this data doesn't include the U.S. Post Office, which therorically is its own thing.)
So, while the U.S. population has grown nearly 40 percent since 1978, the population of the federal workforce has not. Government spending on the other hand…
Finally, one of today’s lead stories—the first in a three-part series by The Associated Press—talks about how much technology’s been responsible for so much of our domestic job losses, not that it stopped some of our dear readers from arguing over the politics of … robots?