Klossner: Why young feds need manual pencil sharpeners

My children, in a back-to-school consumer mode that would warm the hearts of economic analysts and mall managers alike, are in love with battery-powered pencil sharpeners. Don't ask me how this came about.


A battery-powered pencil sharpener has appeared in our home, and my children are spending two to three hours a day with it. They look at it, take the batteries out and replace them again, and they sharpen pencils. (If any readers need a ream of pencils — or should I say a pod? a bunch? a rhumba? — sharpened, I'm contracting out.)



This has me worried about their development of small-muscle skills. Will an over-reliance on battery-powered pencil sharpeners prevent them from developing the hand coordination and forearm strength that years of manual pencil sharpening allowed my generation to enjoy? 


Will our country fall behind in the pencil-sharpening skills race? Because I am a middle-aged and sometimes "helicopter" parent (I've been known to occasionally sharpen a pencil for my child), this is but one of the many worries I have for my children's generation as I compare their childhood experiences with my own.


(As an aside, what are we calling this next generation? Since we started the generation monikers with Gen X, we've run out of alphabet pretty quickly. Do we just go to the beginning again? Any generation known as Generation A has an awful lot of pressure on it, not to mention the eternal resentment of Generation B. Do we start adding numbers? Does someone already have a Gen 2.0 billing? Do we start adding symbols? I'm sure it would look cool, but does anyone want to be part of Generation ampersand? Very poor foresight on the part of generation namers.)


My concern with pencil-sharpener skills also plays into one of the discussions surrounding the Rising Star Awards. The Rising Stars, as anyone reading this publication knows, are awarded to young federal employees who have shown unusual resilience and talent in dealing with the numerous challenges federal employment can throw at them. As I read bios for this year's recipients, images pop into my head of people swimming through shark-infested waters, rope gritted in their teeth, as they tow lunch to some fellow employees.


The discussion I'm referring to is about the challenges themselves. Whenever federal employees and employment are discussed, there is an immediate side conversation about what the government can and should be doing to attract and keep the best talent. There is always a comparison to the private sector, and the words "performance-based pay" and "bureaucracy" appear somewhere.


My thought is, similar to giving our children battery-powered pencil sharpeners, why do we want to make it easy? Is this helping these people become the best federal employees they can be? Shouldn't we be grateful that current government hiring and employment practices weed out those who expect better compensation and support? We aren't doing them any favors by creating a federal youth soccer league, where no score is kept and everyone gets a trophy. I for one am happy to know that the agency personnel I am dealing with are there because of their fanatical devotion to government work, not because it was the best-paying job available.


In fact, I propose we take it a couple of steps further: Don't advertise any job openings, relocate agency offices to undisclosed locations, and include a skills test consisting of candidates finding their way from Seattle, Wash., to Washington, D.C., using only public transportation, surviving for one week from a vending machine at the Environmental Protection Agency, and having to sit through two consecutive showings of Man of the Year without any refreshments for any who still insist on working for the federal government.


And don't give them any pencils.


NEXT STORY: Get a Life!: Labor Day 2008

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.