Life in the trenches

Depending on your job, agency and geographic location, many feds have been on lockdown going on 8 months. For some people this has been the catastrophic event of a lifetime. Others have taken it in stride or are adjusting. By contrast World War II (for Americans) lasted from December 1941 to September 1945. Our current situation is no comparison to the horrors, length and lasting-impact of WWII. But right now, today, it is the reality the real world for many has shrunk. Social life for many has changed, schooling is different and most commutes aren’t what they were this time last year. Whatever your scale and comparison, it is for many, if not most, people the first world-wide pandemic they’ve known.

Over the past few months we’ve tried to keep in touch with both active and retired feds. Some of them literally have jobs on the front-lines, some in labs and scientific situations, that are life-threatening. And life-saving too. Because so many feds are on the front-lines, we’ve been glad to hear their real, personal stories of day-to-day life — ordinary days in extraordinary times.

Their latest check in was last week. It pointed out that while we are all in this together, those of us with secure (so far) jobs, health insurance and protection are among the lucky — or at least luckier — ones. It brought forth this response from a veteran civil servant whose parents brought him to the U.S. as child. He says he not only had to master the English language, then had to modify it to Brooklynese:

“Yes, as federal employees, we are in a very good position compared to many others. For one thing, we do not have to worry about our company not having enough cash flow so that it can’t pay us, or worse, have to close. Many smaller businesses have had to face that dilemma. (Note: the fact that our “boss,” Uncle Sam, has had positive cash flow for only 2 or 3 years in the past 90 years is not considered in this piece. That is for another time, maybe). States, counties and municipalities have been hit with increased costs and reduced revenues, of which some have or will be replaced from the federal coffers. It is likely some of their employees will take a hit. Federal employees who work in offices, could switch to teleworking. How quickly and how well that worked is an amazing story. The occasional hiccup does provide a bit of human interest, though. For non-office workers, such as Border Patrol, USDA inspectors, etc., the stories I’ve seen indicate that the feds in the field still have the ingenuity that I always saw there.

Yes, the U.S. took a very big hit, and has not yet recovered from it. Yes there will be structural changes in the economy. Some of these were coming to pass anyway, but the pandemic just accelerated the change. For example, the wide spread use of teleworking and order online with curbside pick-up. But compared to many other nations, the U.S. did not get hit as badly as they did, and is recovering reasonably well. Typically the U.S. news media does not cover much outside the U.S. borders unless it affects what is inside the borders, or it is very, very huge. But the world is reeling from this pandemic, especially in developing countries.

Right now, some politicians and some media talking heads seem like they cannot tell the difference between various statistics. Specifically there is a difference between number of deaths, number of hospitalizations and number of cases. Yes the U.S. has the most cases in the World. But the U.S. is one of the largest countries in the world. The New York City Metro Area has as many if not more people than Hungary. And the U.S. had done much more testing than other countries. Not surprising when the number of tests was accelerating, so did the number of confirmed tests. And very often the positive cases are totally asymptomatic.” –H.E.


Nearly Useless Factoid

By Alazar Moges

The Constitution does not require that the Speaker of the House of Representatives be a
member of the House, although a nonmember has never been chosen Speaker.

Source: National Archives

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Oct 20, 2020 Close Change YTD*
L Income 21.6569 0.0173 1.59%
L 2025 10.5150 0.0194 -
L 2030 36.0542 0.0821 1.76%
L 2035 10.6820 0.0265 -
L 2040 39.8749 0.1076 1.73%
L 2045 10.7962 0.0309 -
L 2050 23.3760 0.0712 1.64%
L 2055 11.0267 0.0427 -
L 2060 11.0268 0.0428 -
L 2065 11.0269 0.0428 -
G Fund 16.4815 0.0003 0.76%
F Fund 20.9953 -0.0434 6.75%
C Fund 51.0818 0.2405 5.50%
S Fund 61.8329 -0.053 3.45%
I Fund 31.0463 0.1542 -6.83%
Closing price updated at approx 6pm ET each business day. More at
* YTD data is updated on the last day of the month.