- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2001

The plan to downsize and privatize some Defense jobs and give federal civilians smaller raises than the military may have faded last Tuesday when Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon.
The injured, dead and missing were nearly all feds.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld literally felt the shock. President Bush visited rescue workers doing dirty, dangerous jobs.
The rescuers — federal, state and local — were all public employees. Those weren't contractors or consultants loading body bags and fighting chemical fires. Up in Manhattan, more than 300 police and firefighters (also public employees) died doing their duty.
At the Pentagon, it was one of those rare times when a VIP (like the president or defense secretary) meets rank-and-file feds who haven't been briefed, barbered and told how to act, when to stand and how much and how long to applaud.
The president and Mr. Rumsfeld saw executives, GS 5s, colonels and grunts side by side under the worst conditions, where they often do their best.
Ironically, one day before the attacks, the Pentagon announced it would downsize and privatize its bureaucracy. And the White House was sticking to its decision to give civilians a 3.6 percent raise, while applauding a 4.6 percent increase for the military.
The Washington Times reported the plan ("Pentagon staff to be trimmed by 15 percent") Tuesday on Page One. The story was overshadowed later in the day by the Extra edition announcing the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.
What's the point? The point is that federal workers are too busy right now — searching for co-workers and burying their dead — to worry about getting a second-class pay raise. Or maybe they have too much class.
So leave it to a crass outsider — me — to make the case.
We are suddenly worried about airport security (now provided by minimum-wage rent-a-cops). We may be about to go to war. There may be more attacks. So let's cool the talk about downsizing, and skimping on the pay raise. The difference between 3.6 percent and 4.6 percent is suddenly very symbolic. Since the feds and the military work side by side, and sometimes die that way, treat them the same.
Just a thought.
Buy high, sell low?
That's what some federal investors are about to do, warns Thrift Savings Plan expert Paul Yurachek. He's a Bethesda-based financial planner with American Express Financial Advisors. "They want to sell, get out of stocks while the market is down," he said.
"The markets will be crazy at first," he says, "but take a look at Europe. It went down the day after the attacks, then went back up what's really happened? Has our economy been destroyed? No. What's happened is that our confidence has been shaken."
"Consider this," he says, "when a professionally managed pension fund says it is going to cash, that means its holdings will be 50 percent to 25 percent in equities (stocks). Why? Because they have to make money, like any long-term investor."
"Getting out of the market is easy," he said, the trick is "having the nerve to come back in."
His advice: "Do like the government is with this terrorist thing think it over carefully and plan the right move don't act out of impulse, or fear." And for nervous federal investors, he says, there is always the super-safe G-fund (treasury securities), where they won't have to pay a premium for government bonds.
Emergency leave bank
President Bush has told agencies to cut the red tape and allow employees with unused annual leave to donate it to victims of the terrorist attacks. Some of the victims have or will run out of annual leave (vacation time). Others will just need extra time to get back to work. Either way, you can donate eight hours or more. Check with your Human Resources office. If they say it can't be done, tell them George sent you.

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