The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Snow-quester: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to (Work?)

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


In 2010, Washingtonians lived through Snowmageddon.  Some referred to it as the Snowpocalypse.  Today, the federal government was “Snow-questered.” At about 4 o’clock this morning, the Office of Personnel Management announced that federal offices in and around the District of Columbia would be closed today.  The price tag for Washington’s snow events?  $71 million per day (based on the 2010 experience) from lost productivity. In Washington, D.C. and its environs, there is a strange phenomenon that happens occasionally.  Typically, it occurs during the winter months.  In fact, temperatures need to be at or below freezing in order for the phenomenon to materialize.  Moisture in the atmosphere is considered essential, too.  Combine these factors together to achieve said phenomenon.  Many people call this “snow.” Snow, though, does not constitute a “snow job.”  As defined in the Collins English Dictionary, the latter is, chiefly, a slang term referring to “an instance of deceiving or overwhelming someone with elaborate, often insincere, talk.”  Similarly, to “snow under” is “to overwhelm with a larger amount of something than can be conveniently dealt with,” much as an avalanche overwhelms those in its path with, yes, snow. Forecasts leading up to today’s “snowstorm” indicated that the city would be inundated with snowfall of 5 to 10 inches – perhaps even more, particularly in the suburbs.  However, for the downpour that was first scheduled for last evening, then midnight, then finally this morning, the ground temperature – roughly 33 degrees at first light – was not cooperating.  Whatever snow did fall, none survived long enough to create a ground cover.  The much ballyhooed blizzard has, instead, been a bit of a “wet blanket” on Washington, as described today by CNN:  “‘Snowquester’ doesn’t pan out in DC…”  In other words, it is pretty much just miserable outside.  But these conditions, uncomfortable though they may be, did not merit a government shutdown. But life is imitating politics.  Not to say that the federal government sequester won’t pose some hardships in some quarters, but – like yesterday’s forecasts of today’s weather conditions – its impact is not likely to be as apocaplyptic as President Obama and others might have you believe.  Did his dire predictions constitute a “snow job?” That remains to be seen. More telling, though, is this:  while the region’s federal employees were given the day off for what amounts to some wet streets and above-freezing temperatures, the much-maligned Congress was in session today – i.e., “working.”  More to the point, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives – with the help of 53 Democrats – managed today to pass a Continuing Resolution, the stop-gap measure to keep the government funded after March 27th for the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, by a vote of 267 – 151.  Isn’t that ironic, keeping open a government that shuts down for a drizzle? So, why not the occasional furlough, if it helps to close the deficit?  Apparently, folks can stay home on a moment’s notice.  On the flip side, given how uneventful today’s weather was, I wonder how many folks would have made it to work today, if their day off had come at a price?  It’d be interesting to see how much of that $71 million-per-snow-day lost we might actually save. Unless we take responsible, pro-growth action – and soon – this nation will soon be snowed under, by a credibly-forecast avalanche of debt and deficit-spending.  Listen closely.  You can hear the rumbling at the top of the mountain already.

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