Laughing All The Way

There are differing opinions as to what location deserves the title of "The Happiest Place on Earth". Some say Disneyland, some say Denmark. But as near as I can tell, nobody thinks it's the Bureau of Public Debt. They describe their task thusly:

Our job is to borrow the money needed to operate the federal government and to account for the resulting debt.
In other words, for someone who cares about the fiscal health of the nation, it must be a damnably depressing place to work.

Little wonder that they're looking for a little joy and sunshine (via Drudge):

This is a sources sought notice and not a request for quotations. The purpose of this announcement is to seek qualified contractors with the capability to provide presentations for The Department of Treasury, Bureau of the Public Debt (BPD), Management Meeting with experience in meeting the objectives as described herein.

The Contractor shall conduct two, 3-hour, Humor in the Workplace programs that will discuss the power of humor in the workplace, the close relationship between humor and stress, and why humor is one of the most important ways that we communicate in business and office life.

So—let me get this straight—managers are trying to learn how to be funny in the workplace.

Everyone who has read more than three Dilbert cartoons knows: this is hopeless. What kind of a joke would managers in the Bureau of Public Debt find amusing?

Q: How many managers in the Bureau of Public Debt does it take to borrow $7,238,613,847,252.09 from the public?

A: All of them.

They go into more detail on what they're looking for:

Participants shall experience demonstrations of cartoons being created on the spot. The contractor shall have the ability to create cartoons on the spot about BPD jobs.
Cartoons? Really?


I can't help but think that BPD-specific cartoons wouldn't be very funny at all.

The presenter shall refrain from using any foul language during the presentation. This is a business environment and we need the presenter to address a business audience.
The BPD doesn't make it easy; try looking at this graph without using foul language:


Federal Debt Held by the Public Under CBO's Long-Term Budget Scenarios (Percentage of GDP)

More guidelines from the BPD:

Upon completion of the course, participants shall be able to:
  • Understand the importance and power of humor in the workplace in a responsible manner
  • How to use talents in a creative way that adds humor to everyday experiences
  • Alleviate stress in home and the office
  • Know how and why humor is important to communication
  • Improve work-place relationships
  • Prevent burn-out
Keep in mind that it takes scores of living, breathing Federal employees to write this stuff, approve it, put it on the web, handle responses, etc. And nothing that comes out of this process will be amusing in the slightest.

A Bureau of Public Debt manager and a taxpayer are in a bank, when armed robbers suddenly burst in. While several of the robbers take the money from the tellers, others line the customers up against a wall, and proceed to take their wallets, watches, etc.

While this is going on, the BPD manager jams something in the taxpayer's hand.

Without looking down, the taxpayer whispers, "What is this?"

To which the BPD manager replies, "It's that $7,238,613,847,252.09 I owe you."

Personally, I think they'd get better results just running six hours' worth of Marx Brothers movies.

I went to visit the Bureau of Public Debt. There was a sign on the door: "Cashier has less than $10,000,000,000,000.00 at any time."

Anyone got more?

The village idiot was giving a talk before an AARP chapter. "We're going to go bankrupt as a nation," said the idiot.

"Well, people that I say that to say, 'What are you talking about, you're telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?'" the idiot said. "The answer is yes, I'm telling you."

Oops, not much of a punchline. Because, unfortunately, that one's not a joke.

Last Modified 2012-10-06 6:06 AM EST