Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Stop! Have you heard the latest Byron Dorgan joke?

Senator Byron Dorgan made a bold stand against government waste, according to the New York Times:

The Treasury Department was trying to bring a little levity to the workplace, but Senator Byron L. Dorgan did not find it funny.

The department’s Bureau of Public Debt scrapped hire a consultant to teach managers a class on using humor in the office after Mr. Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota, objected.

The Times quoted Dorgan:

In an e-mail statement titled “Not a Laughing Matter,” Mr. Dorgan said, “Of all the agencies, the Bureau of Public Debt should know that there is very little that is funny about today’s economic conditions.”

Perhaps it's me, but I'm not as bent out of shape about this course as Senator Dorgan is. Especially in a recession, it's important to maintain positive morale with the workers that you have, and if a six-hour course on humor would do the trick, then it's possibly a good investment.

Especially if the course details inappropriate humor. I don't know if this is the case, but let's assume it did.

Now what would happen if a Bureau of Public Debt worker, who did not benefit from humor training because of Senator Dorgan's intervention, ends up using inappropriate humor in the workplace?

And what if the target of the humor sued, for an amount far in excess of the amount that it would have cost to hold the six-hour course?

But perhaps that wouldn't happen, and Dorgan saved us a bunch of money. A cost savings that he proceeded to announce:


Friday, July 17, 2009

CONTACT: Justin Kitsch
or Brenden Timpe
PHONE: 202-224-2551

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) announced today that after being contacted by his office, the Bureau of the Public Debt (BPD) cancelled its plans to hire a contractor to “create cartoons on the spot” as part of a “Humor in the Workplace” seminar.

Dorgan’s office contacted the federal agency after seeing the solicitation for a contractor that “shall have the ability to create cartoons on the spot about BPD jobs.” Dorgan, who has been exposing foolish federal spending for several years as part of his “wastebusters” project, said this ranks right up there in the category of foolish spending.

“I’m glad that the agency that deals with our public debt came to their senses and stopped their plans to hire a contractor to create cartoons in the workplace. Of all the agencies, the Bureau of Public Debt should know that there is very little that is funny about today’s economic conditions,” said Dorgan. “I understand the need for motivation in the workplace, but I think we have a greater motivation to save the taxpayers some money.”

According to the solicitation, “the Contractor shall conduct two, 3-hour, Humor in the Workplace programs that will discuss the power of humor in the workplace, the close relationship between humor and stress, and why humor is one of the most important ways that we communicate in business and office life. Participants shall experience demonstrations of cartoons being created on the spot. The contractor shall have the ability to create cartoons on the spot about BPD jobs.”


It's interesting that the press release didn't quote the specific dollar amount that was saved by Senator Dorgan's brave intervention. Of course, one could claim that even if the course was less than $1000, you can save $1000 here and $1000 there and eventually it adds up to real money.

Of course, you have to ferret out all of the waste, which means that the most valuable job that Senator Dorgan can perform is to spend all day reading solicitations to ferret out additional wasteful activities.

Of course, if all you're doing is reading solitications, that sounds like a minimum wage job to me. Since the minimum wage is now $7.25 per hour, we could pay Senator Dorgan at this wage rate, thus saving significantly over his current Senatorial salary.

I think that's rather funny. Don't you?
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