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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pentagon May Cut Up to 50,000 Civilian Employees....

...Over the next ten years!

Is this serious or much ado about nothing?

The Pentagon offered up a $526.6 billion budget on Wednesday that calls for closing bases, slashing the civilian work force and scrapping weapons programs, holding out hope the Congress might still opt for an alternative to even more draconian cuts already on their way.
Defense officials said the department also planned to reduce its civilian workforce by 40,000 to 50,000 over five years and take new steps to reduce the cost of healthcare, including overhauling military treatment facilities. President Barack Obama's proposed Pentagon budget for the 2014 fiscal year asks Congress to take a series of politically difficult steps, including starting a new round of U.S. base closure proceedings, increasing healthcare fees for military retirees and slowing military pay increases.

What Does This Really Mean?

We've already lost 15,000 Department of Defense civilian employees in the last year and a half.  Defense department civilian employees peaked at 560,000 in early 2011.  We now have 543,700 civilians employed by the DOD.

I can't comment on other elements in the budget proposals for the Defense Department as I know very little about those numbers and programs, but we've already been losing 8,000 to 10,000 civilian employees from the DOD for each of the past two years..  Despite the loss of 15,000 civilians from the DOD, we gained 4,330,000 jobs in total and 4,656,000 private sector jobs during that same amount of time.

50,000 sounds like a serious number of layoffs, but it comes out to 10,000 a year.. which is close to what we have been doing for the past year to two years.      So...  these kinds of cutbacks, at least in terms of civilian personnel, have been ongoing for awhile now.  Will 10,000 DOD cutbacks a year make any more difference to the overall job market than the 15,000 DOD cutbacks we've already experienced since Spring/summer 2011?  

Or is this headline much ado about nothing?
Of course it will make a difference to the individual families.. unless most of these cutbacks have and/or will take effect through attrition, through people leaving or retiring.  But we've been experiencing cutbacks on this level from the DOD and it hasn't impacted the labor market.  

I personally think that the loss of 250,000 teachers and other education support people in the same period of time is a bigger problem.

1 comment:

  1. Here is my comment on this , including musing from 20,000 feet above this

    the military industrial complex is powerful. General Smedley Butler detailed its machinations in 1933 and three decades later Eisenhower gave us the phrase and reiterated Butler's warning. After Ike, we paid no heed and got ourselves into the muck of Viet Nam on false pretenses and an illusory PR campaign of an absurdist paranoid 'domino theory' . See Kubrick's 'Dr Strangelove' for the proper insight and reaction to this paranoia done at the time . It is the same insight that we should have today.

    The foregoing is all true - but there is a certain practical element in the maintenance and the expression of the military industrial complex that needs to be addressed for real solutions to this monster. This practical element, further, makes it harder to build the M I C down.

    The M I C , by its nature, is large, byzantine, serpentine, insidious, expansive, and includes lots more than smoke filled star chamber types of rooms. I do nt know the total people who work directly or indirectly for the W I C , from janitors (my dad, working overtimes was such a person in the 1960s) to computer people to clerks to manfufacturing people to front line soldiers to staff soldiers, but it is ton of people - probably in the millions. Therfore the total *economic* potential and output and impact of the M I C is probably staggering.

    I saw a news item near where I live that OshKosh Co , Wi, will have to lay off 900 people. WHen I drilled down , it was due to sequestration cuts and this company was a D o D contractor. These are regualr old run of the mill middle class americans who lost their jobs.

    It alerted me to the extreme complexity to build down the M I C, and knowing this difficulty, I cd see why there wd be a collective ' Aw , hell, let's just find us a enemy and let the M I C rip'. Also, let's remember Newton law of inertia where a body once set in motion will remain motion. Newton reminded us the more massive a body is , the more the inertia. The M I C is massive.

    ANother factor in the M I C continuing, unfortunately, is that it is among the things that America is best in class at in producing - military. Our success in WW2 encouraged this effort and ratcheted the M I C exponentially. Then it fed on the Cold War. Now after the wall came down , the M I C is all dressed up with nowhere to go and our leaders have not provided an alternate mission for these fine folks to use their talents and energies. So they make up the muslim bogeymen or North Korea , etc.

    We really need another mission to put those good people in OshKosh to work - not on killing things, but in constructing a better world. True energy independence using the clean renewable energy is the obvious mission for all of us to be engages in - pooling our treasury dollars, collective talents and energies. I read that with a distributed energy model , vs an 'elitist centralized' one that we currently employ, we can gain this energy independence. Each buidling and home s/b its own power station (for example)...

    ok,.. that is lots of work for Americans to get this done.

    . Here is the item on OshKosh

    On the latter, - the example mission , here is Jeremy Rifkin


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