Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 51

Thread: Trump Administration Destroys US Department of Agriculture, Conservatives Rejoice

  1. #1

    Default Trump Administration Destroys US Department of Agriculture, Conservatives Rejoice

    There is no room for objectivity of any kind, especially science, in the new American Conservative Paradise.


    Scientists Desert USDA As Agency Relocates To Kansas City Area

    Two vital research agencies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are hemorrhaging staff as less than two-thirds of the researchers asked to relocate from Washington to the Kansas City area have agreed to do so.

    When U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the planned new location of the research agencies last month, he said it "will be placing important USDA resources closer to many stakeholders" and "increasing the probability of attracting highly-qualified staff with training and interests in agriculture."

    But groups such as the Union of Concerned Scientists call it a "blatant attack on science" that will "especially hurt farmers, ranchers and eaters at a particularly vulnerable time."

    The American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing the USDA's Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, said the relocation "has resulted in catastrophic attrition at USDA's top research agencies."

    "Evidence suggests that the relocation of these agencies is an attempt to hollow out and dismantle USDA science that helps farmers and protects our food supply," the union added.

    The USDA gave employees until just before midnight on Monday to notify their employers whether they planned to accept the relocation.

    On Tuesday, a USDA spokesperson told NPR that at ERS, 72 employees accepted relocation and 99 declined or did not respond. At NIFA, the spokesperson said 73 accepted and 151 declined or did not respond. That means the total number that accepted is about 36% of those reported.

    The USDA spokesperson said that these numbers may fluctuate until Sept. 30, the date employees are expected to report to the area, and employees can change their statuses until then.

    They added that the USDA is working "to ensure separating employees have the resources they need as well as efforts to implement an aggressive hiring strategy to maintain the continuity of ERS and NIFA's work."

    Last month, the USDA said that of the 644 jobs in the two agencies, 544 would be relocated and 100 would remain in the D.C. area. The numbers reported on Tuesday by the USDA do not appear to account for some 150 positions that the USDA initially announced would be relocated.

    The department did not immediately respond to explain the difference, though the employees' union has reported high rates of "retirements, employees securing new jobs, and employees choosing to be terminated." A statement last month from three Democratic senators said that ERS had a vacancy rate of 20% and NIFA had a vacancy rate of 26.4%.

    NIFA provides grants for research on agriculture-related science, and the ERS conducts research and analysis on topics such as outlooks on major crops and livestock, how much food is going to cost and whether U.S. households will be food secure.

    It's not yet clear whether the research agencies will be located in Kansas or Missouri, according to The Kansas City Star.

    Lawmakers from both states, including Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, have supported the move. "My first thought was Kansas City would be the perfect place," the Republican said, as NPR's Frank Morris reported.

    An ex-employee of ERS recently told Morris that "efforts by the secretary ... have just destroyed morale." He said the way the agency is run has become increasingly partisan, and he resigned after the surprise announcement about relocations.

    "I think it's had its intended effect. People have left, morale is low. The agency will take a long time to recover from the damage that's been inflicted," the former employee told Morris.

    Some of ERS' recent studies, as Morris noted, may be politically uncomfortable for the Trump administration:

    "ERS studies, for instance, concluded that the 2017 tax cuts championed by the administration would most benefit the richest farmers, and that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which Trump wants to cut, is good for the economy."

    Perdue said last month that the move would save the USDA some $300 million. That number has been met with skepticism by some analysts. The Agricultural & Applied Economics Association estimated the relocation would actually cost taxpayers between $83 million and $182 million, partially due to the lost value of the research from staffers who decide not to move.
    https://www.npr.org/2019/07/17/74251..._campaign=news
    The Rules
    Copper- behave toward others to elicit treatment you would like (the manipulative rule)
    Gold- treat others how you would like them to treat you (the self regard rule)
    Platinum - treat others the way they would like to be treated (the PC rule)

  2. #2
    Don't worry bro ketchup is a vegetable and you can get your carbonhydrates from coal
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  3. #3
    It's part of the plan: hollow out federal agencies, which makes them less effective, then claim federal agencies are ineffective.

  4. #4

  5. #5
    What contemptible government union bullshit. The Department of Agriculture is headquartered in one of the most expensive quarters of the most expensive cities in the US. They want to move researchers closer to major agricultural regions that also boast a lower cost of life. Like any corporate relocation, it's upsetting but can be totally sensible.

    Saying this is anti-science is an insult to actual efforts to politicize science.

  6. #6
    All federal departments are headquartered in DC....because that's the center of federal government.

    It's not contemptible government union bullshit to question employee moves that don't make sense, Dread. But at least you admit that science is politicized.

  7. #7
    The leviathan state has offices all over the country that do research, administration, etc. Do you travel to Washington, DC when you go to the Social Security office?

    Similarly, must you house agricultural researchers thousands of miles away from our major agricultural states?

    This is contemptible government union bullshit.

  8. #8
    As the article observes, the decision follows in the wake of other harmful anti-science changes to the culture and management of the organization. It's neither surprising nor contemptible that many experienced staffers and researchers would turn down an "offer" to be relocated to Kansas, esp. in light of those cultural shifts. It's also not clear that the decision would be beneficial, but I understand that some people are easily impressed by magical accounting.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnaught View Post
    The leviathan state has offices all over the country that do research, administration, etc. Do you travel to Washington, DC when you go to the Social Security office?

    Similarly, must you house agricultural researchers thousands of miles away from our major agricultural states?

    This is contemptible government union bullshit.
    Got to love your assumption that everyone working for the government is basically scum who should feel lucky to get whatever money and benefits the government throws at them (also see the teacher thread). It's not like they could pursue alternative job opportunities. What we really want is the least qualified and most desperate people to be managing our government. Then Trumpists like yourself (don't see why you pretend otherwise) can feel better about your ideas about failing government.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    Got to love your assumption that everyone working for the government is basically scum who should feel lucky to get whatever money and benefits the government throws at them (also see the teacher thread). It's not like they could pursue alternative job opportunities. What we really want is the least qualified and most desperate people to be managing our government. Then Trumpists like yourself (don't see why you pretend otherwise) can feel better about your ideas about failing government.
    It is an incredible awful situation when government workers make more than the private citizens that fund them. Maybe if there was a 10% "GE rule" I'd be more sympathetic but the turnover for government employees is atrociously low ensuring you get at best mediocrity.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Lewkowski View Post
    It is an incredible awful situation when government workers make more than the private citizens that fund them. Maybe if there was a 10% "GE rule" I'd be more sympathetic but the turnover for government employees is atrociously low ensuring you get at best mediocrity.
    Yeah, what a disaster that someone with a Ph.D. in a STEM field would be getting paid more than a college dropout. Or maybe the basis of comparison should be to similar jobs in the private sector, which most definitely pay more.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    Yeah, what a disaster that someone with a Ph.D. in a STEM field would be getting paid more than a college dropout. Or maybe the basis of comparison should be to similar jobs in the private sector, which most definitely pay more.
    Most government workers do not have Ph.D.s. If you compare all governments workers (and include benefits and pension) they make disproportionately more money and are nearly impossible to ever fire. Oh they get more time off too.

    EDIT: Even when comparing educational backgrounds. A government worker with a 4 year degree vs. a private sector employee with a 4 year degree will make more money and have more benefits, that's jacked up. The disaprity is even greater when you go to people w/o 4 year degrees. The vast vast majority of government workers have 4 year degrees or less education than that.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Lewkowski View Post
    Most government workers do not have Ph.D.s. If you compare all governments workers (and include benefits and pension) they make disproportionately more money and are nearly impossible to ever fire. Oh they get more time off too.

    EDIT: Even when comparing educational backgrounds. A government worker with a 4 year degree vs. a private sector employee with a 4 year degree will make more money and have more benefits, that's jacked up. The disaprity is even greater when you go to people w/o 4 year degrees. The vast vast majority of government workers have 4 year degrees or less education than that.
    https://www.cbo.gov/publication/52637

    Also note that 40% of federal employees are soldiers and most compensation is spent on civilians who work in DOD/DHS/VA, who I assume you feel should be fairly compensated.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  14. #14
    Maybe the private sector could afford to pay their workers comparable wages to government jobs if they weren't so busy paying their top executives 8 digit salaries on top of 7 digit bonuses for performance and god knows what else on top of that.
    Why do we build the wall, my children, my children? We build the wall to keep us free.
    How does the wall keep us free, my children, my children? The wall keeps out the enemy. And we build the wall to keep us free.
    Who do we call the enemy, my children, my children? The enemy is poverty. And the wall keeps out the enemy. And we build the wall to keep us free.
    That's why we build the wall. We build the wall to keep us free. Because we have and they have not, my children, my my children. Because they want what we have got.
    What do we have that they should want, my children, my children? We have a wall to work upon. We have work and they have none. And our work is never done. And the war is never won.
    The enemy is poverty, the wall keeps out the enemy, and we build the wall to keep us free. That's why we build the wall, we build the wall to keep us free.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    Maybe the private sector could afford to pay their workers comparable wages to government jobs if they weren't so busy paying their top executives 8 digit salaries on top of 7 digit bonuses for performance and god knows what else on top of that.
    Honestly, Steely, executive compensation (while sometimes ridiculous) does not have a major impact compared to the overall wages bill in most companies, especially since a lot of compensation is typically equity.

    Much bigger factors are money spent on unaffordable healthcare coverage, share buybacks, losses from trade wars, etc.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    Honestly, Steely, executive compensation (while sometimes ridiculous) does not have a major impact compared to the overall wages bill in most companies, especially since a lot of compensation is typically equity.
    Depends on what you call 'major'.

    I napkined the numbers for Boeing earlier. I found their approximate total wage bill to be 13 billion. They have 60 executives and the numbers I was able to found with pay ranging from 23 million for the head guy, to 5 million at the low end. Taking 10 as an average, about 600 million, or about 5% of their wage bill.

    In fact, now that I'm sat down at a proper computer, let's have a look at Electronic Arts:

    Average Pay: $94k (https://www.payscale.com/research/US...ts_Inc./Salary)
    Number of Employees: 9,300 (just google this)
    Approx Wage Bill: $874,200,000

    Board of Directors: https://www1.salary.com/Electronic-A...-Salaries.html

    ANDREW WILSON: $18,320,071
    BLAKE JORGENSEN: $9,411,863
    Kenneth Moss: $6,954,880
    Patrick Söderlund: $12,015,716
    Chris Bruzzo: $6,952,832
    Laura Miele: $6,952,832

    There are people listed on their executives page (https://www.ea.com/executives) who aren't on that list, and I have no idea what they get but presumably it's comparable. We're already at $60 million for what we do know about, which is, what, 8% of their total wage bill? Adding the unknowns, maybe 10%? What if we include people on the next rung down, who one would assume are also extremely highly paid?

    The difference between federal workers wages and the private sector is about 17%.
    Why do we build the wall, my children, my children? We build the wall to keep us free.
    How does the wall keep us free, my children, my children? The wall keeps out the enemy. And we build the wall to keep us free.
    Who do we call the enemy, my children, my children? The enemy is poverty. And the wall keeps out the enemy. And we build the wall to keep us free.
    That's why we build the wall. We build the wall to keep us free. Because we have and they have not, my children, my my children. Because they want what we have got.
    What do we have that they should want, my children, my children? We have a wall to work upon. We have work and they have none. And our work is never done. And the war is never won.
    The enemy is poverty, the wall keeps out the enemy, and we build the wall to keep us free. That's why we build the wall, we build the wall to keep us free.

  17. #17
    A disproportionate number of federal workers also work in D.C., where both salaries and living expenses are far above the national average.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    A disproportionate number of federal workers also work in D.C., where both salaries and living expenses are far above the national average.
    So let's bring down costs and distribute them to Kansas and other areas?

  19. #19
    For some forms of highly qualified work you need to have the right people working together in the right place, and many of the right highly qualified people will simply turn down the opportunity to move from DC to Kansas.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  20. #20
    I wonder....if the "government" dynamics people bitch about couldn't be changed by giving DC statehood?

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    Depends on what you call 'major'.

    I napkined the numbers for Boeing earlier. I found their approximate total wage bill to be 13 billion. They have 60 executives and the numbers I was able to found with pay ranging from 23 million for the head guy, to 5 million at the low end. Taking 10 as an average, about 600 million, or about 5% of their wage bill.

    In fact, now that I'm sat down at a proper computer, let's have a look at Electronic Arts:

    Average Pay: $94k (https://www.payscale.com/research/US...ts_Inc./Salary)
    Number of Employees: 9,300 (just google this)
    Approx Wage Bill: $874,200,000

    Board of Directors: https://www1.salary.com/Electronic-A...-Salaries.html

    ANDREW WILSON: $18,320,071
    BLAKE JORGENSEN: $9,411,863
    Kenneth Moss: $6,954,880
    Patrick Söderlund: $12,015,716
    Chris Bruzzo: $6,952,832
    Laura Miele: $6,952,832

    There are people listed on their executives page (https://www.ea.com/executives) who aren't on that list, and I have no idea what they get but presumably it's comparable. We're already at $60 million for what we do know about, which is, what, 8% of their total wage bill? Adding the unknowns, maybe 10%? What if we include people on the next rung down, who one would assume are also extremely highly paid?

    The difference between federal workers wages and the private sector is about 17%.
    I'm afraid I haven't had much time to respond, but an important note is that a large proportion of that $600 million for Boeing is not cash, but stock. Muilenburg, for instance, has a $1.7m base cash compensation plus he received about $13m in cash bonus last year. The rest was equity. I would assume that other top-paid executives were similarly compensated in equity (if not a higher proportion; Muilenburg's compensation included a large incentive bonus in 2018 that was not normal). Plenty of CEOs have modest to zero cash salaries, and broadly executive compensation has been tied much closer to equity (often with a time delay to incentivize longer term thinking) than in the past. I'd also note that there's a pretty sharp dropoff in pay when you leave the C-suite.

    Let's split the difference, though, and argue that the cash cost of executive compensation is somewhere around 3-4% of Boeing's personnel costs. Healthcare costs at Boeing are north of $2 billion (it's hard to get good data, but that's my best estimate based on open source information). The trade war is imperiling tens of billions of dollars of overseas purchases, especially from China. And it bought $43 billion of its own stock since 2013, including $9 billion last year.

    My point is that a few hundred million in cash compensation for executives, while possibly ridiculous, is not limiting Boeing's cash flow to any substantial degree, and that other circumstances (e.g. the lack of government funded and/or affordable healthcare, unnecessary trade wars, and aggressive stock repurchasing, to name a few) cost far more to their bottom line.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  22. #22
    1) Compensation in the form of stock still represents money the executives are able to take out of the company in terms dividends. They could also pay their staff with equity if that was what was stopping them. The purpose of paying CEOs in stock is apparently these people need a double-extra-super incentives to actually do their jobs to something approaching the best of their ability, not to stop damage to the cash-flow of the business. If you just paid them equivalent cash value, they'd just play golf all the time or maybe raid the pension fund or something.
    2) I'm not familiar with the US system at all, but doesn't government also have to pay health-care costs? In the UK, the public-private sector pay divide is about 13% in favour of the public sector (i.e similar to the US), and in the UK we do have government funded affordable health-care.
    3) Trump's trade wars are a recent phenomena, the public-private sector pay gap goes back decades at least.
    4) Buybacks I'll grant you, though those are one of rather than expenses. The purpose of buybacks is generally to increase the value of remaining shares. Take a guess as to who that benefits?
    Why do we build the wall, my children, my children? We build the wall to keep us free.
    How does the wall keep us free, my children, my children? The wall keeps out the enemy. And we build the wall to keep us free.
    Who do we call the enemy, my children, my children? The enemy is poverty. And the wall keeps out the enemy. And we build the wall to keep us free.
    That's why we build the wall. We build the wall to keep us free. Because we have and they have not, my children, my my children. Because they want what we have got.
    What do we have that they should want, my children, my children? We have a wall to work upon. We have work and they have none. And our work is never done. And the war is never won.
    The enemy is poverty, the wall keeps out the enemy, and we build the wall to keep us free. That's why we build the wall, we build the wall to keep us free.

  23. #23
    Let sleeping tigers lie Khendraja'aro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    In the forests of the night
    Posts
    5,998
    Wiggin, yeah, we've seen that type of "long term thinking" with Boeing. It lead directly to the 737 Max disaster.

    That whole shit can be directly blamed on the idiotic "shareholder value" stupidity.
    When the stars threw down their spears
    And watered heaven with their tears:
    Did he smile his work to see?
    Did he who made the lamb make thee?

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    1) Compensation in the form of stock still represents money the executives are able to take out of the company in terms dividends. They could also pay their staff with equity if that was what was stopping them. The purpose of paying CEOs in stock is apparently these people need a double-extra-super incentives to actually do their jobs to something approaching the best of their ability, not to stop damage to the cash-flow of the business. If you just paid them equivalent cash value, they'd just play golf all the time or maybe raid the pension fund or something.
    Well, the argument is actually a bit more nuanced - CEOs and other executives are generally evaluated on the basis of quarterly financial results, which can be juiced by actions that will screw the company in the long term. Tying incentive compensation to the longer term equity price of the company is theoretically supposed to help avoid moral hazard. It can lead to unintended consequences, though, and I don't think companies have figured out the right way to incentivize managers appropriately.

    Obviously paying all employees (mostly) in equity would have two problems: first, you'd massively dilute your shareholders on a regular basis, and second, your typical Boeing employee actually needs the cash to make their mortgage payment. The CEO, with his 'modest' base of $1.7 million cash, doesn't need most of his compensation in cash. Further, typical Boeing employees have a much smaller proportion of their pay tied to incentives or other performance measures (that is, their bonus is a small proportion of their take-home).

    The broader point, though, is that irrespective of how you value cash vs. deferred stock compensation, it's still relatively small beans compared to other massive burdens companies are shouldering due to current and past US policy.

    2) I'm not familiar with the US system at all, but doesn't government also have to pay health-care costs? In the UK, the public-private sector pay divide is about 13% in favour of the public sector (i.e similar to the US), and in the UK we do have government funded affordable health-care.
    Generally speaking, the federal, state and local governments do pay for healthcare for their employees (about 75% in most cases), just as the private sector does. Quality is variable, but one advantage the federal government has is scale - it's the largest employer in the country and large chunks of their employees are under single large programs (e.g. Tricare for the military, FEHB for most non-military feds, etc.). I don't know, however, how cost accounting for non-salary compensation works in various federal agencies, so I can't comment more directly on how it affects budgeting decisions. My understanding, though, is that in general the healthcare provided by the US government is cheaper on a per-enrollee basis than most private employers - some research I've seen suggests cost growth has fallen somewhere between Medicare and private employers in recent decades.

    3) Trump's trade wars are a recent phenomena, the public-private sector pay gap goes back decades at least.
    Sure, that was just an example. There are plenty of secular factors that impact a company's bottom line far more than executive compensation. Before Trump, there was the ridiculousness with taxing overseas profits upon repatriation, which forced a lot of cash holdings offshore (one of the few semi-good parts of the tax reform). Or there were export restrictions placed on companies like Boeing that limited their ability to compete in some markets. Or whatever else you want to point at for a government imposed circumstance that limited free cash flow.

    4) Buybacks I'll grant you, though those are one of rather than expenses. The purpose of buybacks is generally to increase the value of remaining shares. Take a guess as to who that benefits?
    Broadly speaking, companies buy back stock when they don't have a better use for the capital. Given the pace of buybacks in the last decade, it's pretty concerning that some of our largest and most valuable companies can't seem to find a use for capital and are instead returning it to shareholders. One could argue that they could instead use the money to better compensate their employees - and maybe they should! But clearly in most cases it appears that there is not adequate pressure on the labor market to drive up labor prices, so they are not forced to do so (with some obvious exceptions).

    Quote Originally Posted by Khendraja'aro View Post
    Wiggin, yeah, we've seen that type of "long term thinking" with Boeing. It lead directly to the 737 Max disaster.

    That whole shit can be directly blamed on the idiotic "shareholder value" stupidity.
    I'm not defending the logic that incentive compensation in the form of equity solves moral hazard issues; certainly on paper it should but in reality it's obviously more complicated. My equity stake in my company was recently ~doubled but it didn't change my day-to-day incentives in the slightest (it also helps that my company's equity is currently about as valuable as Monopoly money). I'm sure that the pressure the C-suite receives to deliver good quarterly results doesn't abate just because they pay lip service to longer term thinking, especially given shorter executive turnover time in recent years. But that has little bearing on whether companies are forking out cash or not for their oversized pay packages.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    Well, the argument is actually a bit more nuanced - CEOs and other executives are generally evaluated on the basis of quarterly financial results, which can be juiced by actions that will screw the company in the long term. Tying incentive compensation to the longer term equity price of the company is theoretically supposed to help avoid moral hazard. It can lead to unintended consequences, though, and I don't think companies have figured out the right way to incentivize managers appropriately.
    I dunno about you, but I just like to just generally do my job as well as I can. I mean, I'm in work anyway so I might as well?

    The broader point, though, is that irrespective of how you value cash vs. deferred stock compensation, it's still relatively small beans compared to other massive burdens companies are shouldering due to current and past US policy.
    By the same token, an across the board pay rise of, say, 10%-15% for all staff is also small beans. They can't control US policy, they can control the absurd payouts they give to what is, at the end of the day, a tiny, tiny fraction of their work force. When there's a few 10s of millions going spare and the first instinct is always to make sure it goes into the hands of people who are already rich rather than the people who do most of the actual work (i.e designing and making various things that fly) then I think it's a pretty strong indicator that the problem isn't that public sector staff are overpaid, it's the private sector underpays people at the bottom in the middle and wildly overpays people at the top.

    Which, to be fair, I don't think you were disagreeing with.

    Before Trump, there was the ridiculousness with taxing overseas profits upon repatriation, which forced a lot of cash holdings offshore (one of the few semi-good parts of the tax reform)
    "forced"
    Why do we build the wall, my children, my children? We build the wall to keep us free.
    How does the wall keep us free, my children, my children? The wall keeps out the enemy. And we build the wall to keep us free.
    Who do we call the enemy, my children, my children? The enemy is poverty. And the wall keeps out the enemy. And we build the wall to keep us free.
    That's why we build the wall. We build the wall to keep us free. Because we have and they have not, my children, my my children. Because they want what we have got.
    What do we have that they should want, my children, my children? We have a wall to work upon. We have work and they have none. And our work is never done. And the war is never won.
    The enemy is poverty, the wall keeps out the enemy, and we build the wall to keep us free. That's why we build the wall, we build the wall to keep us free.

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnaught View Post
    The leviathan state has offices all over the country that do research, administration, etc. Do you travel to Washington, DC when you go to the Social Security office?

    Similarly, must you house agricultural researchers thousands of miles away from our major agricultural states?
    The USDA is about farming, forestry, and food:

    "It aims to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers, promote agricultural trade and production, work to assure food safety, protect natural resources, foster rural communities and end hunger in the United States and internationally." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United...of_Agriculture

    There are *field* offices all over the country for every federal agency, sure. But the motive given (cost-savings) for moving top USDA researchers has been questioned by non-governmental economists, analysts, and professional guilds like the AAEA:

    "Perdue said last month that the move would save the USDA some $300 million. That number has been met with skepticism by some analysts. The Agricultural & Applied Economics Association estimated the relocation would actually cost taxpayers between $83 million and $182 million, partially due to the lost value of the research from staffers who decide not to move."

    This is contemptible government union bullshit.
    The Union of of Concerned Scientists isn't a governmental agency.
    Last edited by GGT; 08-06-2019 at 03:34 AM.

  27. #27
    Let sleeping tigers lie Khendraja'aro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    In the forests of the night
    Posts
    5,998
    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    "forced"
    Yeah, as I said: Shareholder Value above all. Hell, even if a portion of your company is profitable (but not enough due to some arbitrary standards) you then promptly axe or sell it. Only unfettered growth is the real thing.
    When the stars threw down their spears
    And watered heaven with their tears:
    Did he smile his work to see?
    Did he who made the lamb make thee?

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    I dunno about you, but I just like to just generally do my job as well as I can. I mean, I'm in work anyway so I might as well?
    That's not really the issue. The issue is what is the definition of 'doing your job'? If you're told to maximize X but in reality you should be focusing on Y, what is your responsibility?

    In my job, rare is the case that I have a clear choice between a 'good' decision and a bad one. Much more frequently I'm faced with a decision on how to deploy limited resources towards furthering my objectives and company goals. Exactly how I'm going to set priorities - all for tasks that are ostensibly important and valuable - is driven to a large extent by the guidance I'm given by management. In the case of top level management in a large company, they're being given that guidance by the BOD specifically and shareholders more generally. If you set up the signals so that the desired outcome is not actually how they are being measured and evaluated, you're obviously setting them up for failure.

    There are plenty of greedy, amoral people who will screw over a company for their own personal gain. But in my experience most people do want to do a good job, but it's not always clear what that means.

    By the same token, an across the board pay rise of, say, 10%-15% for all staff is also small beans. They can't control US policy, they can control the absurd payouts they give to what is, at the end of the day, a tiny, tiny fraction of their work force. When there's a few 10s of millions going spare and the first instinct is always to make sure it goes into the hands of people who are already rich rather than the people who do most of the actual work (i.e designing and making various things that fly) then I think it's a pretty strong indicator that the problem isn't that public sector staff are overpaid, it's the private sector underpays people at the bottom in the middle and wildly overpays people at the top.

    Which, to be fair, I don't think you were disagreeing with.
    I don't have an issue with paying workers more per se (though I suspect you undervalue the contributions of people in the C-suite), and all things being equal some increased compensation for appropriately targeted segments of one's workforce may make sense.

    The reality is that the dynamics of how pay are set in the public and private sector are different, and one is not necessarily better than another. In the public sector, it's much harder to reward outstanding achievement or punish underperformance because salary bands are more or less set in stone. The dynamics of worker turnover, recruitment, budgeting, etc. are completely different, and the responsibilities and priorities of those who set pay scales are different. While the US government theoretically has a responsibility to conserve taxpayer cash and maximize return on 'investment', in reality that's barely enforced compared to the continual scrutiny that company bosses get on their labor costs and results.

    For that matter, I'd argue that the top levels of the US government are grossly underpaid. The President of the United States is possibly the hardest job on the planet, and it's paid $400k pa. Cabinet members almost universally forego extremely good compensation in the private sector for miniscule pay while managing massive bureaucracies. Broadly, people in the top levels of the government (appointed or career bureaucrats) are not doing it for the money, but some combination of a sense of civic duty or a wish for recognition. While this isn't all bad, it does mean that comparisons to top earners in the private sector are somewhat misplaced.

    "forced"
    Actually, I stand by my language. If you're the CEO of a company that has massive amounts of cash riding on a decision about how to (legally) allocate profits and investment, you not only have the right but the fiduciary responsibility to deploy your company's capital in the most efficient way possible.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  29. #29
    Let sleeping tigers lie Khendraja'aro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    In the forests of the night
    Posts
    5,998
    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    Actually, I stand by my language. If you're the CEO of a company that has massive amounts of cash riding on a decision about how to (legally) allocate profits and investment, you not only have the right but the fiduciary responsibility to deploy your company's capital in the most efficient way possible.
    That's your opinion.

    https://www.theguardian.com/business.../tax-avoidance

    And only applicable if you do your business in a vacuum. Which, just like freeze peach, is an ideal but runs into a number of potholes in any realworld scenario.
    When the stars threw down their spears
    And watered heaven with their tears:
    Did he smile his work to see?
    Did he who made the lamb make thee?

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    A disproportionate number of federal workers also work in D.C., where both salaries and living expenses are far above the national average.
    Quote Originally Posted by Aimless View Post
    For some forms of highly qualified work you need to have the right people working together in the right place, and many of the right highly qualified people will simply turn down the opportunity to move from DC to Kansas.
    If you have large amounts of agricultural research occurring in a high-cost area far away from agricultural centers, you might be doing it wrong.

    It's also worth noting that the DC area never had a recession or property value declines during the global financial crisis. If a single employer has enough power to create a housing boom, that employer should consider whether costs could be saved by distributing its workforce. Every organization does this. The exercise is not in itself some kind of anti-science Jihad.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •