The USA Today published an article yesterday noting that federal workers are more likely to die than to be fired from their jobs. The article itself was a bit callous toward the thousands upon thousands of federal workers who have spent their careers working for the American public, but even more saddening than that piece, which has a sufficient factual basis, is the tone of the response: The over 850 comments to the piece are embarrassing and mean-spirited. On the whole, the comments label all federal workers — not just a few who might have fallen through the cracks — as lazy, ignorant, under-educated, and incapable of doing anything productive. They see federal workers as a waste of a good salary. They claim that federal workers are paid too much anyway, and receive better benefits and a higher salary than their public counterparts.
Seriously? Better benefits and a higher salary than their public counterparts? Wow. Can we just talk for a minute about how the SEC struggles to maintain top-notch financial analysts because of the significantly lower salaries it provides — salaries that are literally hundreds of thousands of dollars a year less than their employees could earn in the private sector? Can we consider the scandals and rip-offs the general American public have suffered because government employees are overworked and under-staffed with experts and cannot keep up with the fast-paced technological advances of the people and companies they were supposed to be regulating?
And, can we consider how difficult it must be for federal agencies to work under the direction of Congress and the President, when the Congress itself is falling apart and the House is working hard to stick a knife into every initiative that the President brings? Imagine working each day in an environment where you don’t know if you will have a job, because we are going to shut down the government or default on all debt and stop paying things like, you know, salaries.
And finally, if our government cannot even provide good benefits and job security as a trade-off for the lower-paying jobs, and if working for the government is no longer an admirable and patriotic career but a black spot on the face of an American free market, then who is going to process tax returns, or clean up nuclear spills, or provide emergency relief in natural or human-made disasters? Who is going to regulate banks and credit card agencies so they do not take advantage of an under-educated consumer population?
Me. With all of the bad information out there, the federal government is one of the best places you can work. You get amazing job security and solid benefits, while doing a job that improves the lives of Americans who hate your guts and think you don’t deserve your salary. What can be more rewarding than that?
Working to improve the lives of others, even if it is sometimes inefficient or frustrating, is a job well done. I hope that everyone is wrong, and that when I finally begin my government job it will be smooth sailing, but I anticipate some problems along the way. I know that, as Congress talks about crashing our economy to the ground and the DOJ maintains a hiring freeze for the second year, things in Washington may be difficult during my first few years on the job. But, I am still excited. And I plan to prove all of those 850 commenters wrong.