Tim Cavanaugh passes on an e-mailed note:
According to my calculations, it will cost taxpayers $575 million to give federal workers a day off for Reagan’s funeral on Friday, although the last thing that Reagan would want is for federal workers to get another holiday. Check my math: There are approximately 2.5 million federal workers who earn on average approximately $230 per day in pay and benefits. Thus, 2.5 million times $230 equals $575 million. I admired Reagan, but I’ll be working on Friday and so will my wife. But we work in the private sector and have to work to pay our taxes so that federal workers can have a day off. And don’t you know that all the Democratic unionized government workers will be mourning Reagan’s death.
I’ve seen this argument before in other contexts and always find it baffling. Federal workers are salaried. With the exception of those in law enforcement and others who get overtime pay, they therefore cost exactly the same regardless of how much work they do in a given day. Presumably, all the work that was going to get done is going to get done at some point.
Like Jen, I may or may not get Friday off, as we both work in the national security apparatus (as a DOJ civil servant and a DOD contractor, respectively) where the day off is at agency discretion and have yet to get offical word. I’d obviously just assume have the day off. The hit to the taxpayers is identical either way, though.
As to the point about labor unions, I’d note that the country celebrates “Labor Day” every September by, ironically, taking the day off. How many of them spend their day paying homage to the working man, or whatever the hell it is we’re supposed to be honoring on Labor Day? For that matter, many of the Federal holidays are rather silly. Why do we get a day off to celebrate the fact that a totally arbitrary page on the calendar has turned?