Don't get too excited over news the federal government plans to move 450 jobs into West Virginia. Even though politicians are trumpeting the "great news" and patting themselves on the back, the advantageously timed announcement should get more scrutiny.
These are not 450 new jobs. These are Treasury Department jobs being moved from Hyattsville, Md., to Parkersburg, as part of a consolidation of Bureau of Public Debt operations.
Most Ohio Valley residents are all too familiar with what management means when they start talking about consolidation of operations. Treasury officials hope the move will save them $96 million over five years, in management, administrative and support service costs. In fact, one of the factors mentioned in discussions about the move was Parkersburg's cheaper real estate.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is expressing joy the federal government "plans to maintain and grow the Bureau of Public Debt," and it is wonderful to hope good jobs will stay in and come to West Virginia. Though of course it is hard to reconcile the words "grow" and "consolidate."
And it bears remembering that we are talking about the federal Bureau of Public Debt - the hundreds of people needed merely to keep the books on our $16 trillion national debt. Somehow, "plans to maintain and grow the Bureau of Public Debt" have the feeling of a distinctly mixed blessing.