The concept of shared sacrifice, so familiar to the Depression/World War II generation, seems to have fallen out of favor. Certainly it hasn’t applied to the two wars being waged on our behalf by a tiny segment of our citizenry.
But if those wars -- still quite real for the courageous Americans fighting them and the families waiting anxiously at home -- seem to be of diminishing importance for tens of millions of citizens with, let us say, “other priorities,” the same surely can’t be said for our battered economy.
Whether the minute fraction of Americans who have thrived in this recession is larger than the fraction defending their freedom to do so is perhaps an academic question for economists and demographers. What is not academic is that most of us have been affected, quite directly and in some cases devastatingly, by the economic meltdown of the last couple of years.
President Obama thinks it’s again time for some shared sacrifice, “and that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government.” The president, under the intense political and economic pressure that goes with the job he asked us to hire him for, has announced a freeze in the pay of federal workers over the next two years. Exempt from the freeze, and rightly so, are military personnel. Also among those exempt are members of Congress and their staffs, federal judges and postal workers. More on that in a moment.
The purpose of the policy, of course, is to cut into the swelling federal budget deficit. It is expected to save $2 billion the rest of FY 2011, $28 billion over five years and $60 billion over the next 10. The freeze will affect about 100,000 federal workers in Georgia, more than 6,000 of them here in the Columbus metro area.
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