Geological visits to monitor volcanoes in Alaska have been scaled back. The defense secretary is traveling to Afghanistan two times a year instead of the usual four. For the first time in nearly three decades, NASA pulled out of the National Space Symposium, in Colorado Springs, even though representatives from France, Germany and China all made the trip.These cutbacks sound fine and dandy to one notorious Republican senator:
“Hopefully what you will have is more sound judgment at these agencies about what is critical travel and what isn’t,” Mr. Coburn said. “There is no question that federal employees should have some travel and go to some conferences, but most of it has nothing to do with their jobs. It’s a perk.”So, when we don't monitor volcanoes, or when the Centers for Disease Control can't do in-person trainings of state and local officials, that's just exercising sound judgment? Because it sure sounds like a problem to me. Maybe, to satisfy Coburn that no one is getting any perks, Secretary of State John Kerry should start conducting diplomacy via Skype. Or when a disaster strikes, maybe FEMA could assess the damage by watching the local news. Hey, while we're at it, maybe members of Congress shouldn't go back and forth between their districts and Washington, D.C. That's a total perk, right?
(Via Alec MacGillis)