A Japanese study found that walking while chewing gum can keep you thin. And if you can’t do both at the same time, don’t worry, there are still many government jobs you can do.
That joke naturally leads into this news. Friday, President Trump signed three executive orders that are right up his alley: they'll make it easier to fire under-performing government workers. Among other things, the orders strengthen accountability for federal employees, set up a working group to analyze federal union contracts, and require federal workers to spend at least 75% of their time doing the jobs they were hired to do instead of working on union business.
I’m sure you’ll be so shocked you’ll hit the fainting couch when I tell you that union leaders are screaming like goats with a hotfoot over these outrageous demands that federal workers actually do their jobs. The president of the American Federal of Government Employees declared, “These executive orders are a direct assault on the legal rights and protections that Congress has specifically guaranteed to the two million public-sector employees across the country who work for the federal government…This administration seems hellbent on replacing a civil service that works for all taxpayers with a political service that serves at its whim.”
We’ll just skip over the part about there being two million federal employees and focus on this phrase: “a civil service that works for all taxpayers.”
I’ll bet you’re a taxpayer, so I’ll ask you: do you think the federal bureaucracy works for you? I know it’s supposed to, but does it? Sure, there are many great, hardworking civil servants doing important jobs like law enforcement, border patrol and delivering the mail. But they’re the competent people who are actually doing the jobs they were hired for, so these orders aren’t directed at them.
Do you believe that the people at the IRS who were targeting Tea Party nonprofit groups to deny them their right to participate in the election were working for you? How about the Veterans Affairs employees who let vets die on waiting lists for medical care and tried to cover it up by falsifying the records? Or the government workers at a dozen agencies, from Amtrak to the FTC, who were discovered to be spending much of their work days illegally viewing and downloading pornography? I could go on and on. And when you heard that these incompetents, pervs and political hacks were almost impossible to get rid of because of union contract protections – many either kept their jobs or were given lateral moves and continued receiving paychecks, bonuses, promotions and pensions at your expense – did you feel outrage that those protections might be weakened and harm all that those people were doing to…sorry, "for" you?
Much like tenure for college professors, government contracts have become a shield to prevent the justified removal of people from positions they plainly do not deserve to hold. Government union contracts evolved this way through years of closed-door negotiations in which union officials who help politicians get elected crafted sweetheart deals with the politicians they helped get elected. The taxpayers had no place at the table, but they got stuck with the tab and the consequences. This same process on the state and local level is why so many blue states and cities are facing ruinous government pension obligations that threaten to gobble up their entire budgets.
“Accountability” is not a dirty word, and expecting it of federal employees isn’t treasonous, un-American or an assault on worker rights. It’s the basic standard all American workers (outside of academia and government) are expected to mee every day. If the government union bosses really think they’re going to turn Americans against Trump by accusing him of trying to say, “You’re fired” to incompetent and corrupt federal employees, then they may be shocked to learn this:
That’s the very reason a lot of people sent him to Washington in the first place.