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A Government Employee Speaks Out

by Ouida on September 30, 2013


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Last week we held an emergency meeting to discuss the possibility of a government shutdown. I half-jokingly invited my colleagues to send comments that I would post on my Blog. During that meeting I genuinely had no plans to publish anything at all. That is until I saw some of the political debates over the weekend. I was so sickened that I had to turn the TV off. As I write this, we are 4 hours and three minutes from a shutdown. In my almost 20-year career of service this will be the second shutdown my co-workers and I have weathered.

The Republicans in Congress have done a very good job of isolating the Federal Worker. We are portrayed as people with overly generous benefits packages who do little work. I went straight from residency training to this job so I cannot speak to my benefits package as it is compared to the private sector. What I can say is that I would have made more money and amassed substantially more assets over my 20-year career had I taken my Ivy-League education and deployed it in the private sector. Whatever my health insurance and benefits package, it is the same one our members of the house have voted for themselves.

There are 800,000 federal workers. We are doctors, lawyers, law enforcement officials, we are the military, we handle disasters both domestic and abroad, we are engineers, we build bridges and dams, we are chemists, physicists, we are teachers and technicians, we are information specialists, we are security guards and housekeepers. We have mortgages. We pay our bills.

Our federal housekeepers swab the toilets and clean up the messes of the men and women of Congress who have forgotten how to govern. I spoke to a friend today, a Republican, who told me he was so disgusted by the Republican party that he was going to hand in his card.

Federal workers spend money. We make plans. The plans we make will go unrealized and the money will remain in our pockets. Can our service-based fragile economy endure 800,000 people spending only what they must while we wait for the uncertainty regarding our pay to be resolved?

Like it or not Barack Obama won a second term as President of the United states and he did so by winning the popular vote. The Affordable Health Care Act was passed into law during Mr. Obama’s first term. The Republicans who oppose it are not among the 45 million Americans who lack access to care and they never will be. Increasingly membership in the legislative branch of our government has become less about governing and more about influence peddling and power brokering. Peter Schweizer in his book, “Throw Them All Out” reveals the sad truth that the majority of Senators and Congressmen leave government far richer than when they came, truly governing and finding a way forward for America simply isn’t a priority any more. The craziness we are seeing today isn’t about the insurance mandate or the need to protect the insurance companies (Rand Paul actually said that we need to be careful that we don’t decimate the insurance companies on Face the Nation yesterday). It is about not liking the man in the White House and wanting to turn the clock back to November 5, 2012. It is about closing the sandbox because you don’t want certain kids to play there. In any other Banana Republic we would call this a coup, a situation in which one faction subverts the government because they don’t like the outcome of an election. But because the Republicans haven’t gotten in tanks, taken up arms and rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue, we don’t call it that. Instead we call it government dysfunction.

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