John Klossner

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In defense of federal employees (Washington Redskins, beware!)

The Washington Monument I've become worried about government workers' self-esteem. Not that this should come as a surprise: As a group dealing with high-profile projects in a stressed-out economy with highly partisan oversight, how can they not be a little jittery in the self-worth department? Public employees have been blamed for everything from the economic crisis to Charlie Sheen's behavior.

Many of these attacks focus on the purported problems caused by public employees' collective abilities. In the name of fair play, I think we need to consider the potential of the public employee community. At the risk of being more simplistic than usual, I wish to contribute to the restoration of employee self-esteem. We're talking numbers and, as the old African saying goes, "Working together, the ants can defeat the lion." (I'm paraphrasing here, and I'm not sure if there also might be an old African saying that goes "But the lion will work extra hard trying to stop the ants' collective bargaining rights" or "The lion will wage a publicity campaign alleging that the ants' benefits packages are causing the wildebeest population to dry up.")

In searching for actual numbers of public employees, I have encountered a wide range of figures. For that reason, I have decided to use the unscientific figure of "a lot" to describe the number of public employees working for our various governments. Taking this number into account, the following projects are possible (all statistics unsupportable):

* Piled together, the public employees could form a wall big enough to block a mid-sized metropolitan area from a tsunami.

* If every public employee held their breath for 30 seconds each day, we could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 5 percent.

* Collectively, the public employees could beat Watson, the IBM supercomputer, at Jeopardy.

* Allowed on the field all at once, the public employees could defeat the Washington Redskins.

* If that isn't so impressive, how about the Steelers?

* As a group, the public employees could defeat Chuck Norris in a tug-of-war fight.

* If every public employee stood atop each others' heads, we could put a person on Mars.

* Arranged in formation, they could spell out the Constitution at halftime of the Super Bowl.

* If every public employee worked out at the same time, and each treadmill was hooked up to a generator, the public employees could produce enough power to light up the Pacific Northwest.

* If every public employee in the greater Washington area took the Metro one day ... oh, never mind that one.

* If all public employees avoided bathing for one day ... ditto.

* If each government worker brought in a covered dish, we could feed (put your favorite community/cause/third world country here) for a day.

* If all the public employees chanted "We are here" together, they would avoid being dropped into a vat of boiling oil (wait, that's "Horton Hears a Who").

John Klossner public employee unions

Posted by John Klossner on Apr 21, 2011 at 12:19 PM


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Reader comments

Wed, Apr 27, 2011

Feds who keep bashing contractor's pay never get it and probrably never will because they do want to. When the contractor gets paid for an hour of work he only gets paid once and only for that hour he worked on the contract/project. Much of that pay goes to the management (accountants, supervisors, secretaries, etc. as well as some of their benefits, their facilities, equipment, and much more). When Feds get paid for an hour of work on a project they also get paid additionally for annual and sick leave (wich is typically much greater than contractors get), their admin time, their very good benefits (most of which is paid by the Government - not deducted from their pay and is usually better than what the contractors get), plus great retirement pay (again usually far better than what the contractors usually get). Simply put, you cannot compare a Fed's hourly pay with what the contractor's hourly rate is without considering all these factors. Unfortunately, most Feds do not have a clue on just how expensive their benefits really are so they understand what their real cost is relative to the contractor's cost. Instead they prefer to gripe about the contractor's costs which they really do not understand.

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 Harvey DC

As someone who is paid by taxes and who also pays taxes, I believe that government employees are a much more efficient use of the governments money than contractors. 15 years ago I was a contractor and the government was billed $124 per hour for my services. I was making $25 per hour out of that. I am now a GS 13 step 7 and I am not costing the government $124 per hour even taking my benefits into consideration.I also want to comment that the government can save a lot of money if they abandon the use it or lose it policy. If I save money in a procurement this year and give money back, I should be able to get more money in another year when I need and not less because I was frugal and saved the taxpayer (and myself being a taxpayer) money.

Sat, Apr 23, 2011

No one beats Chuck Norris.

Fri, Apr 22, 2011 Guillermo Midwest

How does "Mr. Ananymous" know what most public employees do or think? Is he one or does he hang around with some? Here is the typical "broad brush" public employees get painted with. I bet if there weren't enough public employees to make sure his unemployment check was on time or his food stamps or Medicaid claim was approved, he'd be writing his Congessman about how abused he was! I'm a public employee and I just wrote out a check to the IRS earlier this week, so I must be paying myself? I don't mind my salary being frozen, it's stupid when you consider the billions lost in fraud, waste and abuse, but I'll do my part...just leave my TSP and retirement benfits alone I've been working for them for over 27 years...I will whine about that! Most of us Feds and it's a fact, have nothing to do with making regulations, that's way above my pay grade. That's a case where you need to be writing your elected representatives "Mr. Anonymous."

Fri, Apr 22, 2011 Kate

If all politicians held their breath for 30 seconds/day, we could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 90%.

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