Gallows humor: Sequestration style

Thanks to the confusion and complexity of sequestration, and the fear of furloughs among government workers, a new form of dark humor seems to be developing. It’s about time, too…

Back in the day, before political correctness made us all better, over-the-hill comedians in cheap night clubs could get away with telling a joke like this:

Question: Do you know what the definition of mixed emotions is?

Answer: Seeing your brand new Cadillac go over a cliff with your mother-in-law at the wheel!!!”


Gross. As a four-time father-in-law I don’t find that amusing…

Can you believe that anybody, even the vilest married man, would be so low, so thoughtless, so wrong as to laugh at an alleged ‘joke’ like that.

Fortunately, things are a little better in government circles thanks to the current threats facing their jobs and paychecks. With a jump start supplied by the still evolving and mysterious sequestration and continuing resolution processes and the fear of furloughs, we now have a new definition of the difference between good news, bad news and really, really bad news. Here’s how one reader defined it:

  • “I am sure you know the difference between good news and bad news. How about the difference between good news and really bad news?

    “First the really bad news: assume the Department of Defense said employees would be furloughed for 7 days. (Not so bad), but then doubled it to 14 days! Now that is really bad news.

    “But if DoD announced that employees will be furloughed for 22 days? Pretty bad, wouldn’t you say. But then reduced to only 14 days! Now that is good news.

    “I am sure you can see the difference. ” — Jerry

  • To make this truly ecumenical, here’s a furlough-related musical note from “C” He writes:

  • “We held our family seder a few days late this past Saturday night. Of the 22 people present, there was one active federal worker, one contractor, two federal retirees, assorted spouses and grown kids of feds, and one federal union hack, me. The talk turned to sequestration. One contractor cousin said that the feds around her are talking about how their benefits are threatened, but she lost similar benefits years ago as a local government employee. She wasn’t saying that since she lost hers, federal employees should lose theirs, but I think she was just stating a fact. I was about to give my standard soapbox speech, but in the interest of not offending the three Republicans (I promised my 91-year-old father that I would behave), I whipped out my guitar and sang the furlough song which appeared in your column “The Ballad of the Furloughed” last week. There was much group participation.”
  • Finally, the $64 million question. Sequestration is supposed to save a ton of money. But its complex instructions and the talks, meetings, rewriting and exemptions taking place have got to be costing a lot. As a retired Justice Department worker put it:

  • “I wonder what the amount of money, total, the government is spending (and wasting) in preparing for, scheduling, and implementing hundreds of thousands of furloughs? There has to be a grand total somewhere, no?” — Just Curious
  • Anybody have a clue? Are the people pushing for savings also counting the costs?


    Compiled by Jack Moore

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