Boom Town U.S.A. That is Washington D.C., according to Harper's Magazine which hits the newsstands today with an issue devoted to "The Wealth of Washington." It ought to be best-seller here, even though many federal workers (and officials) won't like some of the facts presented and conclusions drawn by author Tom Bethell.
Bethell delved into the strange, federally-financed economy of the Nation's Capital. He figures that the millions of dollars Uncle Sam pumps into our economy daily is responsible for the growing number of unpopularly-price restaurant, building booms, skyrocketing real estate costs and the fact that Fairfax and Montgomery countries are at the top of the list of the nation's wealthiest.
Bethell also comments on the Washington phenomemon of politically-appointed husband and wife teams whose combined federal income puts them among the nation's dollars elite.
The Harper's piece - which will also fascinate people beyond the Beltway - talks about "mostly compassionate, public spirited people" who come here to work to slow inflation and stamp out poverty.
". . . and yet, somehow," Bethell writes, "a good many of them ended up sipping French wines in the quiet of their pocket-sized Georgetown backyards, discussing real estate investments before retiring early to bed because they had next day an urgent 'report' to write on the sad state of the economy.
Because Washington is an "artificial town" afloat on a sea of government bucks, Bethell concludes that what is bad for the rest of the country is gravy for most of us there. He writes:
"The laws of supply and demand not only do not apply to Washington, they are turned inside out. Problems elsewhere in the country merely contribute to the wealth of Washington.
"The fuel crisis takes the shape of a new Department of Energy, where 19,000 bureaucrats under Dr. James Schlesinger's command will have $10 billion to play with - roughly equal to the total profits of all the oil companies."
Bethell figures that, in addition to a fuel crisis, the U.S. may also be suffering from a Washington crisis.
Don't Call Us, We'll Call You: The Civil Service Commission is still trying to figure out how to handle the following letter from Seattel man, who cannot figure out why he has not been offered a federal job:
"Dear Sir: Former Child prodigy. Teen-age college graduate (in one year!). Vietnam veteran - desires work.
"I've been on the Civil Service register with a higher than maximum score for nearly two years and haven't been even been interviewed. The functioning and philosophy of the Civil Service Commission is souring a tremendous amount of talent. For those many exceptionally qualified registrants who follow me: I OBJECT!" M.E.W. Seattle.
Good, Bad or What? General Service Administrator Jay Solomon has been pressing the troops to reduce paperwork and simplify forms his housekeeping-purchasing agency uses.
As a recent session with 400 top managers, Solomon dropped one of those impressive statistics than often leave people puzzlied. If the computer printouts GSA uses each month were stretched out, Solomon said, they would reach from Washington to El Paso. Nobody has actually done it, of course, but some people are wondering if that is too much, not enough or what?
Interior Department has given its top honors award to six Geological Survey scientists and administrators. Winners are Henry W. Coulter, Michael Flescher, Jennie M. Jefferson, Montis R. Klepper, Edward A. Moulder and Edwin W. Roedder. All of the winners are over 55, and Flesicher, a research chemist, is 70.
Job Crunch: The U.S. Postal Service says it has more people applying for work than it has work to do. The Department has around 650,000 employes. Earlier this year, USPS says, the clerk-carrier test was opened up in New York City for people competing for an estimated 3,150 vacancies that will come up between now and late 1979. Just over 337.000 people took the test, and that is just a metro New York figure.