They continued, "Every election cycle, someone running for president talks about getting rid of various federal departments. Sometimes candidates forget what agencies they want to defund. This is partly due to a myth that federal workers are overpaid, when in reality if you compare them with workers in the private sector, they're actually underpaid. Most members of the federal workforce is built up of people with a deep love of country. Don't we want people who are dedicated to helping people in the public good? Why the damnation of federal workers when we want people to be encouraged?"
They went on, "Cong. John Conyers (D/MI), the Dean of the House as its longest serving member (over 51 years), told us that he still believes in 'what sent me to Congress, to determine which direction to go or we'll fall backward.' For Conyers, 'Martin Luther King motivated enthusiasm in politics—he put himself on the line.' He contends, 'King motivated young people. We've made so much progress, come so far since then.'"
They explained, "In the wake of the controversy at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Democrats and Republicans came together to pass a bill that, with needed reforms of waiting periods and ease of obtaining care, made it easier to fire VA Senior Executive Service members. Under the law, senior executives can already be fired for conduct or performance. Now, fired employees have only seven days to appeal to a judge from the Merit Systems Protection Board. The judge then has 21 days to render a verdict. After that, no further appeal is allowed. Granted, VA became a lightning rod—rightfully so—but bills that cut workplace rights are not a good way to encourage people to work for the federal government. It's almost been ignored that veterans overwhelmingly love VA health care."
They argued, "People should want to feel welcomed to work for the federal government. On Oct. 21, 2015, when Vice President Biden announced in the Rose Garden that he would not be entering the contest for the Democratic nomination for president, he said, 'I've had the very great, good fortune and privilege of being in public service most of my adult life, since I've been 25 years old. And through personal triumphs and tragedies, my entire family -- my son Beau, my son Hunter, my daughter Ashley, Jill -- our whole family -- and this sounds corny -- but we found purpose in public life.'"
They pointed out, "That pride is why federal workers are willing to take a lesser salary. Last year the Federal Salary Council reported that federal employees make an average of 35 percent less than those in the private sector. In Washington-Baltimore, they make 51 percent less. Workers don't join the federal workforce to get rich. They join to make a difference."
They said, "We join with all those who feel disgust when the occasional congressman takes a bribe and hides the money in his freezer. A vice president who took bribes in the White House and Congressmen took bribes off the floor of the House. But those are the rare circumstances that dirty the name of all public servants. Those are not what we've seen and worked with. Most federal employees know that 99.8 percent of public servants are mission driven. They look in the mirror and feel that they have accomplished something for humanity."
Weiner and Lasky concluded, "Politics and government are incredibly gratifying when you can work on issues ranging from civil rights, age discrimination, housing, education, helping the poor, providing health care or Social Security, ameliorating natural disasters, to creating a strong military to defend the U.S. and lead the world. Those and so many more are all gratifying purposes for public service. That should be our response the next time someone disparages your local elected official, who had the courage to run for office when most don't."
Robert Weiner is a former spokesman Clinton White House and House Government Operations Committee, and senior staff for Gen. Barry McCaffrey, Cong. John Conyers, Charles Rangel, Claude Pepper, Ed Koch, and Sen. Ted Kennedy. Ben Lasky is a Senior Policy Analyst at Solutions for Change.
Robert Weiner: http://www.weinerpublic.com/bobweiner.jpg
Ben Lasky: http://www.weinerpublic.com/blasky.jpg
Contacts: Bob Weiner/Ben Lasky 301-283-0821, cell 202-306-1200 firstname.lastname@example.org
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SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates Public Affairs and Solutions for Change