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It seems to us: New tech meets old tech, job creation in D.C. and cheap help at the wheel

So, once you can email a wrench to an astronaut in space, what is it that you can’t do?

That’s what happened this month when scientists electronically shipped a data package to the International Space Station. Astronauts fed the program into its new 3-D printer and presto, a socket wrench was created.

The divergence between cutting edge and blue collar is especially fascinating. What could be less high-tech than a wrench – maybe a hammer or screwdriver? And it came into being via what must be the current pinnacle of high-tech ability. Even more head-spinning is that the first instructions emailed to the printer were for a part to repair itself.

Who knows what comes next. Maybe landing spacecraft on a comet hurtling through space?

Oh, wait a minute …

Because there aren’t enough federal workers yet – there were about 4.3 million in 2012 – Washington is about to hire another 1,000 new employees to manage President Obama’s executive order on immigration.

We’re all for job creation, of course, though we prefer to see it in the private sector, where it adds to the nation’s economic health. And we recognize that someone has to handle what could be a flood of applicants seeking benefits under the order allowing them to stay in the country temporarily without fear of deportation. And we hear that some day, supposedly, the fees from applicants will pay the freight.

But, really, out of 4.3 million employees, aren’t there 1,000 bodies somewhere who would benefit from reassignment or who are helping to overstaff whatever department they now serve? We’re talking about only 2/100ths of 1 percent of the workforce, here. Or how about using technology to perform some of those tasks?

But, then, trying to do more with less just wouldn’t be Washington, would it?

……

Just goes to show what the White House thinks of the Fourth Estate, not to mention its own staffers. In a New York Times article, a 24-year-old volunteer describes what it’s like to drive journalists and staff at high speed during a presidential motorcade.

Volunteers regularly find themselves driving one of a motorcade’s high-profile vehicles, but ones with decidedly low-profile passengers.

They have little training, but someone has to do it and hey, it’s a cheap solution. The Secret Service says it has been standard practice since the 1980s. Still, it has to be a wild ride for wide-eyed young volunteers and, certainly, for their cargo.