My wife Sue starting working for the federal government nearly three years ago. We’d heard tales that government jobs were strictly 40 hours a week, with built-in stability and, low stress. All we have to say to that is oink oink flap flap (and there are no pigs flying around here.) Sue’s job frequently is long hours and big stress. (We’re not complaining, lots of people don’t have jobs or are underemployed now.)
The budget negotiations had us scared at first. It’s last hired, first fired, with no job protection in the first year with some protection after three years. But during the heated budget discussions in Congress recently, something interesting happened in Sue’s agency. All the old hands basically ignored the politicians and psychodrama and, sure enough, right before the deadline, Congress magically reached agreement. Gosh, it’s almost like it was pre-arranged…
Sue came home one day and said they’re re-arranging her department and who knows what might happen. We called a friend whose dad worked for the government for years. She said, oh, that happened to us about every two years. Dad would come home and say, they’re changing everything, it makes no sense, and I don’t know if I’ll still have a job. They’d lock themselves in the bedroom. There would be tears and whiskey. Then six months later, everything was fine. Her dad retired after 35 years.
I was listening to Sen. Windbag pontificate about the debt cliff negotiations while writing this. There will be stormy drama soon. Politicians are milking it for all its worth. But federal employees who have been employed for decades have been through all this many times. They just ignore Sen. Windbag and his ilk because they know the conclusion is already preordained. Congress will reach an agreement in yet another pseudo-cliffhanger.
This of course is no way to run a government. But tears and whiskey and a lurch towards a short-term solution are about all our Congress, which is mostly characterized by ineptness and greed, is good for.