Federal Employees News Digest

Shopping for the perfect career ...


If you were young again, shopping for the perfect career, would you go to work for a very large global-in-reach corporation where:

The large (500-plus member) board of directors was made of up mostly of white male lawyers, who serve (in practice) for life—and many of whom become millionaires despite a $174,000 salary which is about the same as a GS-15 in Chicago, New York, L.A. or the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area.? Although it isn’t part of the rules of employment, most board members serve for life and then go on to a very handsome retirement plan. Which they designed.

And what if the board, which controlled pay, hours, pension benefits and working conditions had a habit, when members were quarrelling with each other, of either locking you out of your office, or forcing you to work—either way without pay.  And suppose that happened a lot. Most recently between Christmas 2018 and late January 2019, during which there was a 35-day shutdown. Some of the back pay issues are still unsettled. But of course under the rules (which they made), board members continued to get paid their salaries, and reimbursed for “official” travel which could—and does—visiting company facilities in Paris, Rome and Rio.  Remember the old line: The floggings will continue until morale improves! Guess where it came from and to whom it refers!

So, after all this…

Would you take the job?

Oooops, sorry!  I forgot for a moment that if you are reading this (and thanks for that), the odds are you either are a member of the federal workforce, or you retired from it after a long career.

Being a federal worker, to the outside world, appears to be the dream job. Decent salary, good job security, an excellent health and retirement program. Except for the politics. The near-constant political pressure from the 535 board members who sit in the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate whose primary goal (in addition to serving the nation and their constituents) is to get elected. Then reelected. Again and again. 

Government jobs-for-life wasn’t the goal of our Founding Fathers. Except in the case of the Supreme Court. And now even that is in question, partly because politicians from both parties put pressure on elderly Justices (whether liberal or conservative), who are encouraged to quit at the “right time”—when the current President and Congress could replace them with a younger, like-minded Justice before the next election. The political push to get elderly Justices to retire at the right time (on full salary like other federal judges) has never been more intense than now. Progressives want eighty-something Justice Stephen Breyer to retire now. So he can be replaced by a “progressive” before the next election, when anything could happen.  This retire-now push on elderly justices got jump started big time when the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was gently, but firmly, pressured—even by her most adoring fans—to retire, so she could be replaced by a like-minded (and lots younger) progressive. She declined and as a result the court is what it is today. Not what it might-have-been/should-be in the minds of many.

Many now are pushing for mandatory retirement at 65, 70 or whatever age they consider as the threshold to possible senility. Or just worn out which can be almost as bad. Otherwise, they say, future presidents might decide to increase/decrease the size of the court. To get their like-minded appointees on the bench. For life. So, do they have a point?

The average age of the Senate is 64.3 years. In the House, it is 58 years. There are three Senators who have served a total of 106 years. Many groups, both partisan and nonpartisan, are discussing the pros and cons of term limits. Everyone from The Washington Post to the Congressional Research Service has gotten in on the act. With data, opinion and pro and con arguments.

Ironically, or maybe not, some of the most progressive members of the House and Senate started out favoring term limits for both Senators and Representatives. As might be expected, they made a good case. And got elected. And reelected.  And continue to run, many of them clearly past their prime. Human nature is a funny thing. So human.

So, if the term or time limits thing catches on, should there be exemptions to it? 

Having given it lots of thoughtful thinking, I have concluded that persons who have achieved greatness, maybe a Nobel Award or Pulitzer Prize, should be allowed (indeed, encouraged) to work as long as they want. After all these people are very rare birds. And we need to keep them around (and on the payroll) as long as possible …

Oh, it just hit me. Another group. Maybe people, … maybe people like journalists, who cover the federal government! Maybe they should have jobs for life, too!  

Makes perfect sense to me!

2021 Digital Almanac

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