Before diving into the irresponsible and tawdry actions by government employees which was plastered on the front pages of the news of late, we need to first off recognize that those caught partaking of these misadventures are not indicative of government employees in general. The vast numbers of government employees are dedicated professionals who work diligently giving 100% efforts. Those who we refer to in what follows are the few bad apples in the barrel. Despite the joke about a substandard performance at a task as, “close enough for government work,” does a disservice to those who toil away, often thanklessly, in the services of the many layers of government. Most tasks performed by government employees are required to meet the same standards as similar professions must meet in the private sector, there are entire departments in government which hold their employees to an even higher standard. This editorial is about those government employees who have failed to maintain a high standard of discipline and judgment and have earned any aspersions thrown at them.
With the latest of the malfeasance and misappropriation of our tax monies have many questioning how could such actions have been committed and with such disregard for allowing it to become public knowledge yet nobody even seems to feel the slightest guilt. Granted, some of the Secret Service did pay for their sins with their jobs, but that was more for their breaking protocols established for securing the President and others whose lives they are held responsible for guarding more than it was for such poor judgments and misconduct. As some of the agents involved will remain in the department, the sin was not in the act but in the poor judgment to allow these actions to have taken place in their rooms within what was presumed to be a secured environment. And how many heads were placed on the chopping block from the GSA extravagance? The count thus far is the chief of the General Services Administration Martha Johnson resigned, two of her top deputies were fired and four managers were placed on leave. Perhaps that was sufficient but I question why those who did the actual planning of this disgrace were not also shown the door along with the compliant chiefs as they were the ones who presented the initial arrangements and had they done their jobs responsibly instead of making a lavish joke out of what was supposed to be a working conference, then none of this could have transpired. This is one of those times where the underlings were just as guilty as were those who as supervisors should have refused their plans.
But the question which often asked is how can the amount and expanse of corruption of the Federal Government in Washington DC be so extreme and beyond that found at almost any other level of government in the United States. Believe it or not, I have a theory on this; what a surprise, huh? When you consider the corruption we find from our elected Senators and Representatives we need to keep something in mind; these are not simple, ordinary politicians, the majority are true professional politicians. These are the product of years of holding public offices. Many started as township, city, or county office holders who then graduated to state level offices and after a decade or more they finally make it to the big show, the United States House of Representatives and eventually even into the Senate. These are people who have been living in the make-believe world of politics where they have the power to solve most of the problems brought before them by the lesser, little folk simply by having a staffer place a phone call or send off a memo to some bureaucrat whose salary they control through their power of appropriations. They attend lavish parties thrown by those seeking influence and as they get higher up the ladder the parties get more and more lavish. By the time they get to Washington DC their taste has been refined to caviar and champagne, and not the cheap stuff. Many of these lifetime politicians have ten, fifteen, even twenty years of experience of being pampered, primped, perfumed, and treated as almost royalty and it has often gone to their heads. They honestly feel they are above the people, above the law, above reproach, basically above everything they see before them and that is what creates the problem which leads to the graft, corruption, and excesses of virtually any kind.
The corruption in many of the elite levels of the upper ranks of the Civil Service personnel have the same track record except they simply held government jobs moving up regularly and eventually they are at what I call the convention level. This is the level that invents reasons to hold training sessions or hold a convention for some legal sounding excuse and it is almost always held in Las Vegas, Hawaii, Bermuda, or other vacation Mecca, possibly even the French Riviera, if your GS Level is at a minimum of twelve. Such is more often an inter-department event where almost everybody is a GS 15 or higher. These are the true professional people whose ability to make expenditures is of the highest orders and quite beyond the imagination of mere mortal taxpayers. These are government employees who have government provided chauffeurs driving them around in a Lincoln, Cadillac or even a Mercedes. By the time you get to the highest level of our Federal government you have been rewarded and rated as exemplary at your job for so many years and for levels of work that are often the butt of jokes for comedians performing in the Nation’s Capital. Actually, after having been raised in the suburbs of our Nation’s capital, I am surprised that there are not far more instances of such extravagant and over-the-top malfeasance by our highest level miscreants, sorry, government employees. The sorry thing is many actually do attempt to work diligently and competently, but the ones who are along for the ride give the whole a bad name. The only thing I can recommend we, the tax paying public, can do is to thank those who work in the government at any level when they treat their job and the public they serve with respect and show diligence. Complaining about the others will usually not accomplish anything except supply the water-cooler circle with grist for their comedic mills.
Beyond the Cusp