I have little sympathy for the defense department #sequester

There’s a great deal of hand-wringing over this upcoming sequester which, according to most news outlets, could lead to around $85 billion in across-the-board cuts. The defense department is particularly upset, mentioning on CNN the possibility of furloughs.

It’s hard to say who would ultimately be affected:

But Hale said Defense Department civilian foreign employees would be exempted from pay cuts. There are about 50,000 foreign worker employees overseas employed on U.S. military facilities.

“They’re governed by status-of-forces agreements and probably would require some negotiation,” Hale said.

Other employees exempted would include civilians working for the agency in combat zones and certain emergency and safety personnel. Presidential appointees would also be exempt from furloughs.

It’s impossible to imagine that those in harms way, or support staff, would be impacted. So, on the whole, defense can cry me a river. Seriously.

I was furloughed for two years as a faculty member. Here’s something I wrote for Inside Higher Education explaining that. In short, the furlough was an automatic pay cut right off the top. But I was not permitted to actually miss any work, per se. No classes were allowed to cancel, everything still needed grading, emails needed to be answered. No one felt the impact of the furloughs except the employees, so making some kind of case as to how furloughs could hinder the educational experience of students was impossible to make.

Some faculty members put an away message on their email to let students and others know they were on furlough. Interesting. But you still have to answer all of those emails the next day anyway, along with the new ones you’ll get.

If you’re going to furlough, then the impact must be felt. Some work must be left undone. It looks like Defense, if the sequester goes through, will be able to do that.