The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Civil Disservice

The federal government has gotten far too large and too partisan. The reason is simple—those who work for government, collecting fat salaries and pensions that surpass those in the private sector, want to continue to do those things. It's would follow, therefore, that government workers vote for the party of big government—the Democrats—and take that preference into their jobs within government.

Over the past year, there have been hundreds of instances where government workers have sabotaged, leaked and otherwise tried to subvert the actions of the new administration. The previous administration blatantly weaponized agencies like the IRS, the EPA, and the State Department, and the middle management civil service partisans embedded in those agencies remain in place.

Despite what the Dems tell us, the "government" in not working in the best interests of the people. Rather it's working in the best interests of the government. There was a time when one could claim that the people and the government were the same thing. That time is past.

Kim Strassel suggests a legislative initiative that is long overdue and just might capture the imagination of the general public. She writes:
When Candidate Trump first referred to “the swamp,” he was talking about the bog of Beltway lobbyists and “establishment” politicians. But President Trump’s first year in office has revealed that the real swamp is the unchecked power of those who actually run Washington: the two million members of the federal bureaucracy. That civil-servant corps was turbocharged by the Obama administration’s rule-making binge, and it now has more power—and more media enablers—than ever. We live in an administrative state, run by a left-leaning, self-interested governing class that is actively hostile to any president with a deregulatory or reform agenda.

It’s Lois Lerner, the IRS official who used her powers to silence conservative nonprofits. It’s the “anonymous” officials who leak national-security secrets daily. It’s the General Services Administration officials who turned over Trump transition emails to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the absence of a warrant. It’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Leandra English, who tried to stage an agency coup. It’s the EPA’s “Scientific Integrity Official” who has taken it upon herself to investigate whether Scott Pruitt is fit to serve in the office to which he was duly appointed. It’s the thousands of staffers across the federal government who continue to pump out reports on global warming and banking regulations that undermine administration policy.

More broadly, it is a federal workforce whose pay and benefits are completely out of whack with the private sector. A 2011 American Enterprise Institute study found federal employees receive wages 14% higher than what similar workers in the private sector earn. Factor in benefits and the compensation premium leaps to 61%. Nice, huh?

These huge payouts are the result of automatic increases, bonuses, seniority rules and gold-plated pensions that are all but extinct in the private sector. The federal workforce is also shielded by rules that make it practically impossible to fire or discipline bad employees, to relocate talent, or to reassign duties. These protections embolden bureaucrats to violate rules. Why was Ms. Lerner allowed to retire with full benefits? Because denying them would have cost far more—and required years of effort.

It’s been nearly 40 years since the last civil-service overhaul...
It's long past time for a complete overhaul of the civil service system. But huge forces will be aligned against any attempt at reform. The party of Big Intrusive Government, the Democrats, will resist because the swamp is largely their constituency. The GOP elites might resist because the bureaucracy works for them. The deep state will act aggressively to derail any effort at reform, because their fat paychecks and benefits would be threatened. And the media will fight it because—Trump. And—I can see it now—the Hollywood glitterati would conduct benefit concerts to "protect" our beleaguered public servants.

But the general public just might get on board and favor reform. After all, when was the last time private sector workers got pay and benefits offered to federal employees, who typically work half as hard with no real accountability? When was the last time you got outstanding service from a government agency, or for that matter, simply got a straight answer to a simple question without being placed on hold for an hour?

Reforming civil disservice won't be easy ... it might even be impossible. But if anyone can do it, it just might be The Donald.

One cannot help but conclude by paraphrasing the immortal words of P.J. O'Rourke:
It is a popular delusion that the government wastes vast amounts of money through inefficiency and sloth. But that's not true. Enormous effort and elaborate planning are required to waste that much money.