Perspective: Government Shutdown

I am a federal employee.  My coworkers and I are the program managers for the in-service aircraft carrier fleet.  Certainly sounds important but we are also considered “non-essential” during this government shutdown meaning we can’t go to work and we aren’t getting paid.

So, I’m not “technically” unemployed…I’m not “technically” fired either…BUT I’m also not working nor am I getting a paycheck.  So what exactly is my employment status?

I could go out seeking a temporary job but what am I supposed to tell a potential employer?

“Yes, I would love to come and work for you BUT as soon as the government wants me back I have to leave immediately.”

I have a pretty good idea how the rest of that interview would go.  Even if I were to find someone who would bring me in under those circumstances I wouldn’t be anywhere close to matching my lost income because, after all, it would be a temporary position.

At this point there is no end to the government shutdown in sight and, as the primary wage earner in my home, I now have the responsibility to work out what I’m going to do to provide for my family.  Collect unemployment?  Seek out temporary jobs?  Try some freelance work?  There are always options but no matter the direction I go I’ll only be able to slap a band-aid on the problem until I’m either back to work in my government position or I find another full-time job.

It’s inspiring to listen to the news and hear how the government shutdown is having little impact.  I’m glad because otherwise I might wonder what I’m going to do to put food on the table until I’m allowed to go back to work.  Seems to me that this shutdown is actually a risk for loss of my security clearance…after all, you never know what I might do to feed my starving family.

Regardless of your position on the Affordable Care Act I would hope that you recognize that our representatives in Congress are more interested in furthering their agendas than they are about any particular segment of the population.  They intentionally take actions that will divide us as a nation so that we can never develop the mass public opinion needed to force them to do the people’s business.

The framers intended for government to answer to the people however our government currently keeps us divided and focused on “shiny objects” to distract us from what’s really happening behind the scenes.  The result is that we’re never capable of organizing and making them to do what they’re supposed to do because we’re always too busy lashing out at one another.

I do not want the government running my life.  I don’t want them to tell me what kind of insurance I have to buy…it’s none of their business.  I don’t want them telling me how fuel efficient my car has to be or anything else that isn’t specifically called out as a federal responsibility in the Constitution.  I don’t want them reading my email or listening in to my telephone calls.  These issues are all just distractions that our government uses to divert our attention from the “deal-making” that goes on in Washington.

Our representatives need to realize that the “Good Idea Fairy” never comes with a checkbook.  Good ideas always seem really great but, if there’s no money, then the good idea needs to wait.  In my house, a new good idea has to be balanced with the old good ideas already in the budget and, if the new good idea is good enough, then we drop a previous good idea to support the new good idea.

Our Representatives need to stop coming up with new ways to spend new taxes and learn to be responsible with the taxes their already collecting.  A new good idea on how to spend our money should be delivered with a list of things that have to be dropped to support the new good idea.

Individual calls and letters to our representatives seem to have little effect because ultimately they don’t care about us individually.  Individually “I’m” not part of their agenda.  Collectively we can do great things but we all have to get involved.  Call, write, and email on a regular basis and tell your Representative where you stand. Hopefully you’ll be telling them to (1) stay out of your life and (2) stop messing around and get back to work.

In the meantime…

Will-Work-for-Food

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Federal Employee Benefits Vs. Private Sector

Federal Employee Benefits Vs. Private Sector

I must be doing something wrong…

Last year, I accepted a position working for the Department of Defense. I had to move to a much higher cost-of-living location, accepted a position for essentially lower pay (once you account for differences in cost of living), have to commute 3 hours everyday just to get to & from work, and have to work harder each day while I’m at work just to keep up than I did in my previous position with a private contractor. Truth be told, the benefits package between the two positions was essentially the same.

Where is this windfall of heavenly pay and benefits I’m supposed to be receiving?  Where are those hours I’m supposed to get to leisurely surf the Internet each day? I’m certainly not going to say that every single day is maximum stress but there are never days where I have the time to just sit & surf for my own entertainment on the government’s dime.

I understand that federal employment crosses into a wide range of private sector fields of work but, for me and many of the professionals I work with, this “fed-bashing” tends to be rather demoralizing. Most of us are doing the best we can to serve those whom we’ve taken an oath to support. We work everyday to provide the best product we can at the lowest possible cost just as we would do if we were working for a private contractor. Work ethic is tied to character and isn’t dependent upon wear you work.

I know that in government service, just as in any other large company, there are people who are overpaid and under-worked. I’ve personally seen them both inside and outside of government service.  The biggest problem I see is that we lump all the different sectors of government service into one big whole and make generalizations that just aren’t true. The different governmental agencies operate differently so, if you want to know the truth, compare the agencies against the public sectors they support.  This will give a better snapshot of how pay and benefits compare between private and public employment.

To my friends who feel that I work too little and get paid too much, I politely say that you’re wrong. To my friends that feel I get too many benefits, I also (politely) say that you’re wrong. To my friends that feel sequestration is a good idea, I vehemently say you’re wrong. Changes need to be made but this is not the right way to do it. Of all the things our government is sworn to provide its citizens, defense is one that was specifically called out by our founding fathers. Weakening our nation’s defense when the world is so unstable is simply wrong. I pray that (soon) wiser heads will prevail.

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Share the wealth…yeah, that’ll work…

It’s both funny and sad that we live in the only nation in the world that thinks we’ll get an hour more of sunlight each day by rolling the clock forward an hour.  It’s even worse that many people believe our nation as a whole will be better off by taxing those who work to provide for those who don’t.   Health care or welfare, these days it all seems based on this same principle…

As the late Adrian Rogers said, “You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

A friend passed on the following…

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had once failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”.  All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A…

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else..

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Can’t really make it any simpler than that.

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