I have been listening to CSPAN while working - perhaps a little too much, but since it is one of the stations that I can listen to that comes in clearly, I listened. It was interesting and with the shutdown there are things going on that I wanted to hear. At the end of the day, I reached a clarity point that I thought would be be worthy of a post here. So here it goes..
This is something of they way of advice for the government employees and contractors who found themselves sent home yesterday. Believe me, I understand your angst. While I work in the DC area, I somehow missed getting bit by that bullet today, but I have friends and neighbors who did not. I very nearly lost my job earlier in the year, not through any fault of myself or even my employer, but due to some tough economic circumstances, so I understand what you are going through. I understand, I really do.
That being said, I have to say that a government employee or contractor complaining about being laid off, or their congressman or senator bemoaning their woe (which every congressman and senator in the Washington DC area predictably did), comes off to the rest of the country as just a little too self centered. I realize it's a bit difficult to get some prospective right now, but you have to admit that you've had a really good run. While the pain of the never ending recession has put good people across the country out of work, you have been going strong and your salaries have been increasing or at least keeping pretty steady.
Look around the country. How many capable people are sitting on the sidelines, hoping to get one of those part time jobs, just to have the dignity of working. Compare that with the relative security of employment you guys enjoy. Yes, you are at home and not working now. But this furlough will probably only last 2 to 4 weeks. There is a very good chance that a guilt-ridden congress will retroactively pay you as if you were working, thus effectively awarding you an unplanned paid vacation. Let's compare that with the economic despair that much of the country faces where the chances of any jobs coming back is very near 0.
For those that think I am unfairly dumping on the federal workers or somehow misinterpreting, let's just take a look at what some of the local congress critters are saying (my additions are in italics)
Jim Moran - D-VA (from above article):
Today's bipartisan proposal shields family pocketbooks (of federal workers) from partisan politics and reaffirms our commitment to our federal employees
Frank Wolf R-VA (from above article):
They should be properly compensated for the hard work they do to make our nation a safer and better place.(speaking of federal employees sent home to not work)Jerry Connolly D-VA (facebook page):
Federal employees shouldn't be forced to pay the price for the Republican shutdown. I have joined Congressman Jim Moran in introducing legislation that will ensure federal employees impacted by a shutdown will receive retroactive pay. (even though they didn't actually do any work)Steny Hoyer D- MD (his website):
Our hardworking federal workforce – middle-class Americans who support our war fighters, defend our borders, keep our air clean and food safe, care for our veterans, and fulfill many other critical services – should not have to face furloughsEleanor Holmes Norton D-DC: (from her website):
Federal employees feed the entire American economy (??????????) and ensure the wellbeing of Americans across the nation, nowhere more so than in this D.C. federal headquarters region, home to the largest concentration of federal workers in the country. Throwing federal workers off the job is denying services to the American people.Elijah Cummings D-MD: (a few days ago here):
(Speaking about federal employees) “A lot of them, I would venture to guess, are living paycheck to paycheck,” Cummings said. “We, as a Congress, need to be more sensitive to their needs.”Rob Whittman R-VA: (from his website):
Rep. Wittman believes that the federal government should stand by the commitment and dedication of federal employees and has helped introduce legislation that would ensure federal employees receive the full salary they have earned. The bill was introduced on September 30, 2013, to ensure all federal employees receive retroactive pay for the duration of a federal government shutdown, regardless of individual furlough status.Donna Edwards D-MD: (from here):
“Instead of keeping 124,000 Maryland federal employees on the job, Republicans want to put insurance companies back in charge of Americans’ healthcare.
I'd invite those that are federal employees and those that are not to carefully look over the above statements. Look at them from the perspective of the rest of the country that you serve. Does it perhaps appear that your representatives are casting you as just a little elitist? What other industry can afford to furlough employees when the money is thin, then bring them back and offer them retroactive pay? Does this prospective seem just a little skewed?
Let me end this by saying I understand and am sorry that you are going through a tough time. That you are facing a tough financial time in no way makes anyone feel better. I would ask that you consider, just for a moment how really well off you have had it, and will, in the near future have again. Then consider the plight of the rest of the country. With that in mind, i'd suggest that the best course of action for you might just be to urge your congress critters to fix the problem for the country, not just DC. Short of that, it might be best to seek the counsel of silence.
If you really feel bad about this perhaps a little civil disobedience is in order. Even though the OPM forbids it, go into your office, do your work (temporarily 'for free'), and dare your supervisors to fire you. I am betting there is not one of the above congress critters that wouldn't come to your aide.
I leave you with the full quote from Luke 23 (KJV) that inspired the title of this post, an attitude you might just want to give some attention to:
But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. 29For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck