Legitimacy: Government Shutdown

Why do government workers stay on the job? In 2017 I was looking at the direction that the new senior leaders were leaning in DHS Intelligence and Analysis. I was feeling conned because I had a departure path in early 2017 and the DUSIO (Mike) asked me to stay and promised I’d be considered to run Cyber for DHS. Of course he left, the new guy came in (Robin) , and made basically the same promise. The acting USIA (Patty) was a quite smart young lady and I asked her if I would be considered. She said yes. So, I passed on another lucrative exit path. The new Under Secretary Intelligence and Analysis (USIA, David Glawe) was finally confirmed and the hiring board was convened.

Well…. Actually it was just the USIA  with no HR oversight. He chose somebody else, I got “promoted” out of cyber, and I started looking for a new exit path. Anybody who thinks I’m upset and sour doesn’t understand my motives, and might want to think a little harder. I actually applied to work in the Trump administration. I put service over everything else and when the “Never Trumpers” were going nuts I volunteered. All I have ever cared about is service to my nation. Right now I look pretty awesome because I left government service, left Washington DC, got a job in an industry that specifically does zero work with the US government, and is growing internationally.

There are a lot of reasons to not be a government worker. Government workers must be considering other options. I stayed in government even with clear exit paths because I believed in the people, I believed in the mission, and I was willing to put my own self interest aside for something larger than myself. I didn’t want to leave government to some cushy contracting gig where my only value was the ability to “rape my rolodex” and kick me to the curb 3 years later. This isn’t idle boasting without evidence. I have given up tenure twice at a major university to serve in government roles. I didn’t take a leave of absence I quit the golden ticket of academia twice.

I take the toughest, nastiest jobs, and work with it. I worked at the DHS. I was a Marine. My law enforcement time wasn’t some sexy television show solving crimes in an hour but the nastiest role in law enforcement as a county corrections officer. This career wasn’t some romantic version of “Orange is the new black.” Correction work is take every shitty task the patrol and detectives can’t/won’t do and get it done. Corrections is dangerous and politically tainted. Reflecting back I was a corrections officer in various roles almost as long as I was a tenured professor. Nobody has a hero that is a corrections officer. There was a bias in my time towards university educated for patrol and detectives and I didn’t have that check box. Now people would suggest you need a masters degree. There is a particular spin on the world where mission drives results. That spin also suggests service is it’s own reward.

I’ve listened to some YouTube videos by the acerbic money mogul Dan Pena. I can listen, consider, validate, and then discount that which does not work within my reality. I can even laugh at the outlandish statements without rancor.  I’ve also listened to the Donald Trump and political class of the world talk horribly about anybody they disagree with.

Dan Pena and his “snowflake” test values force over smart, and results over methods.  Mr. Pena values the military and hates service to other than self. He passionately states become a billionaire if you want to do good. A view I don’t necessarily disagree with, but  a view that as ironic.

Donald Trump focuses on personal attacks of people he disagrees with. He values those with large bank accounts as a core social value.  The profit bloated world of these kind of people implode on the pragmatic reality of elementary school teachers, indigent preachers, fire fighters, police officers, enlisted members of the military, and even the cranky bitch at the Department of Motor Vehicles. We need them all to make a society run. The political class considers the common middle class to be fodder or serfs along with government workers of all kinds. They don’t need the DMV they got people to do all that stuff.

Social elitism isn’t about having money. It is a bias of not having empathy. Empathy does not mean weakness it means being willing to see the other side. In the case of President Trump and his cronies they see any disagreement as a challenge to their legitimacy.

Government workers can’t quit, strike, or discuss politics at work. You have people who use their political pulpits to beat up on a group they aren’t paying, can’t quit or strike, and are restricted from engaging in political discourse. Where as the political class violate these rules without consideration of the consequence.  So you have an administration who see the rule of law, constraints on action, and disagreement as weakness. They see working for the government inherently requires the acceptance of having to work without being paid. As has been said, come work for the federal government for low pay, stay in federal government service for the furlough. There is nothing legitimate regarding a furlough, work lock out, or lack of funding. There is nothing new with Congress being unable to pass budgets. That does not make it an expectation that Americans in any job will work for free.  If you can’t quit, strike, or discuss being forced to work without pay. It meets the definition of involuntary servitude.

There is nothing more disingenuous than a rich guy saying to a government worker, just do odd jobs for your land lord, take out a loan, what do you mean you don’t have any savings? Alright, here we are. The middle class is a purgatory of quaint falsehoods. We’ve gone from one wage earner, two cars, and a bought for house. To two wage earners, one car, and a house you rent from somebody with money. Savings are meager when the pay check doesn’t pay for the basics. No where is that more apparent than the beleaguered government workers.

The vitriolic, acerbic and scathing rebuke that is directed at you if don’t think like they do, “You are weak and have no value.” Is backed by the inherent evil of classism and general mental clarity of a gorilla fart. President Trump said, “If you were any good you wouldn’t be working in government.” This was all part of the “Deep State” discussion that happened prior to and just after he was elected. The Trump administration is not really talking about government workers other than to brand them as hostile. We really should not have expected the administration to follow through on its duties to workers. They have been deconstructing the work force since day one and a lock out is a really good way to make it stick.

Saying something unrealistic, crazy, or uncouth isn’t better, smarter, faster, or legitimate. Just because you can curse, scream obscenities, use Twitter to rant against the people who challenge you. Just because you have an office, money, or capability to ruin peoples lives. These do not confer legitimacy.

Investors business daily wrote that all the workers who might quit after President Trump was elected was a good thing. They heralded a 35% reduction in workforce and here we are a month into just such a reduction. There are other writers and the political counterpoint of blame and ignorance holds government workers in contempt. Only a bunch of the unsung hero’s are working for free as their bank accounts dry up. You see the vapid fools who are about loud and angry leading a rabble of unconscionable ignorance forget the government is about service. For god’s sake the freaking United States Coast Guard didn’t get paid.  At least we can see that the news media doesn’t understand the shut down any better than the president. The president with his lack of logic and ignorance allowed himself to say “I will own this shut down and I won’t even blame the democrats.”Louder, more angry, more confrontational might work in venues I’m unaware of but anytime you don’t hold all the cards it is a fools strategy.

I value America. I value government workers. I value industry. I value the higher road. I have already donated to some charities helping furloughed workers. The lost trust, relevance, and legitimacy will take a long time to repair. Trying to force the hand of Speaker Pelosi President Trump said most of the government workers furloughed were democrats. I thought Mr. Trump was President of the United States and had the health and welfare of all in mind.