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Federal Employees News Digest

And now for something completely different ...

When they leave the federal government, one in three employees consolidate their Thrift Savings Plan accounts into an outside IRA or other tax-deferred investment. So, what do the others do? 

Perhaps, while most of the focus here in D.C. is on feds and how or whether they consolidate their retirement, how is the Covid19 vaccine debate/civil war going in your office?  Indeed, … is there one?

Do you have coworkers who aren’t speaking, because they differ violently over wearing a mask and mandatory jabs? Or is this all a tempest in a teapot? One dreamed up and spread by East Coast liberals and/or Texas conservatives (choose one)? You know, to make some kind of point. Or maybe just fan the political fires for what they call fun.

Is the whole scenario exaggerated? Or is it real and a symbol of a greater divide among the largest, best educated (and some would argue best-paid) group of workers in the U.S.? A huge group with a higher than average number of military veterans. And more representative of the U.S. population than Wall Street, Hollywood or the NFL. People like you.

For a possible answer, or at least semi-explanation, let’s go back in time: Back to the 1972 presidential election when Richard Nixon carried 49 of the 50 states.  If you can’t remember who he beat, you can be forgiven. Most people would have to Google it. Anyhow it happened. And there was no cry of “election fraud” at the time.

Shortly after the electoral landslide, a columnist for the liberal New Yorker magazine supposedly wrote something to the effect that she couldn’t believe Nixon won because she only knew one person who voted for him. Both sides jumped on this, in different places.

One of the most popular versions of the quote is something like this: “I can’t believe Nixon won.  I don’t know anyone who voted for him.” 

The political right said her comment was proof positive that the columnist (the late Pauline Kael, the magazines theater and film critic) actually lived in an East Coast bubble that didn’t reflect the reality of flyover country, i.e., the Rest Of the U.S.

The political left countered that what Kael said was intentionally taken out of context, and that left is indeed right! Later, the quote was rediscovered and expanded to something like: “I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are, I don’t know. They are outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”

Like I said, both sides—left and right—seized upon the new, expanded version to prove their point: Either that she was simply stating a fact, or that she lived in elitist bubble. The rule in politics is never admit defeat.  Fast forward to now. America (and the world) 18-plus months into a horrible, very real pandemic that has killed close to 800,000 Americans. Or, different version, that this is all or mostly political hype, the collusion of politicians and Big Pharma. A giant hoax that benefits drug companies (and people who make cloth masks) but doesn’t deal with real problems. I’ve heard from a number of feds who say the mandate is causing trouble in their offices. That some employees are refusing to get the shots or mask up, therefore endangering themselves and their families—as well as others. Both sides are firm in their beliefs.

Some feds have said the whole controversy is a journalistic/political invention. That there is little or no tension in government offices over this political/medical issue! One wrote that the Civil War In The Office thing was just a lone ranger. “An army of one,” he said.

So, is he correct? Is the media exaggerating the mandate tension within government?

Or is he living in his own (Washington, D.C.) bubble, oblivious to possibility that some/many of his otherwise intelligent colleagues may actually believe what they are saying? And may be correct.

I write this from a newly sprayed office. I have a mask on and a spare in my pocket and another it my coat. I’m a believer.

But I also believe that it is possible (though not likely—but, yes, possible) that the nonbelievers are genuine and not all knuckle-draggers.  Or even worse (?)—that somewhere down the road they may be proved correct.

2021 Digital Almanac

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