LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
After the Shutdown: Part 1
I must take exception to the Jan. 22 column by Bureaucratus. He says that Congress is blackmailing the president by refusing to appropriate funds to operate the government. He says that Congress should not try to achieve its political goals by jerking federal employees around. He says that Congress should show its concern for federal employees by paying them their salaries while the government is not operating. These thoughts are indicative of problems with memory and integrity.
The fact is, Congress has sent budget bills to the president time and time again, only to have them vetoed. The president's usual excuse is a lie about what the bills contain, even to the extent of making dire predictions about changes he himself has called for in the last four years. (For example, he had called for increasing Medicare spending by twice the rate of inflation instead of the current three times, but now he calls that an attack on the elderly.) This tells me that if anyone is jerking federal employees (and everyone else) around, it's that fellow in the White House, not Congress.
The fact is, it is not honest to accept pay for work one does not do. As a federal employee, I was not happy to go home one day and wonder if I would earn a paycheck the next Monday. I also knew many nonfederal employees in my area had similar problems at other times, due to layoffs at local private-sector companies. In fact, they had it worse, as those who were fired would not be returning to their place of employment and would never be paid their old salaries for the time spent looking for new jobs.
Federal employment is not supposed to be an entitlement, just as a job with NCR is not an entitlement. Those federal employees who have been or will be furloughed will be paid and can get unemployment benefits while furloughed. (The benefits have to be returned later, when the employee is paid for that time off.) It is harder to fire a federal employee than it is to fire a private-sector employee. Some of us are going through bad times now, but that promise of pay for work not done—and a return to gainful employment—makes our future rosier than that of your average private-sector ex-employee. I'd say we federal workers, in general, are better off than our private-sector counterparts.
Laura L. Mann
After the Shutdown: Part 2
I don't think shutting down the government has undermined the morale of federal employees to the degree Bureaucratus stated Jan. 22. Nor do I believe that federal employment has not been an attractive prospect, as he stated. And yes, I think a college graduate would be happy to get a position in the federal government because a job in the hand is worth two in the bush, and believe me, there probably aren't two in the bush!
People who took pride in their work before the shutdown take pride in their work now. The stereotype of the federal employee is just that—a stereotype—and as such, it needs to be put aside.
After the Shutdown: Part 3
I must agree with Bureaucratus' Jan. 22 column on the effects the shutdown has had on federal employee morale and on the prospects for recruiting new persons to government service. In fact, I can easily attest that, based on employee attitudes here, the consequences he predicted as a result of this shutdown are occurring, even though here at Treasury we were not affected by the second shutdown.
However, I must take exception to his article's tone, which implied that Republicans in Congress are to blame for the entire shutdown(s).
There is plenty of blame to go around. Both sides were/are playing political games at the expense of federal workers.
Mark E. Sunderlin