When I first read this story in the Washington Post about supposedly under-appreciated federal bureaucrats, I was tempted to focus on the sentence referring to “the sledgehammer of budget cuts scheduled to hit today.” Below is the Congressional Budget Office’s depiction of this “sledgehammer.” Does the Washington Post really think that a 1.2 percent reduction in overall spending for the current fiscal year (which means the federal budget would still be larger than it was last year) represents a “sledgehammer of budget cuts”?
But I just mocked the New York Times last week for its reporting about supposed “deep spending cuts” and I also nailed the Washington Post back in 2011 for using the term “slash” for a budget plan that would have shaved a miniscule $6 billion from a budget of $3,800 billion. So instead I want to focus on the part of the story featuring self-pitying remarks of federal bureaucrats.
Here’s a good sampling:
[F]ederal workers in [the government-employee-heavy Fairfax County neighborhood of] Mantua say … having “United States Treasury” atop their paycheck [now] means having to defend yourself against arguments, from strangers and even from your own relatives, that you’re an overpaid and underworked leech.
…[M]any federal workers are … bothered by the growing sense that the careers they chose may now seem unattractive, even unworthy. …[O]n a recent visit to Missouri, [one worker] got fed up with ritual denunciations of federal workers…
[Another worker named Raymond] Won, a federal worker for 31 years, resents the notion, now commonplace on talk radio and Web sites devoted to bashing the government, that federal workers carry a lighter load than their for-profit counterparts.
…[O]lder government workers … are concerned about their pensions but even more anxious about why politicians are so willing to make federal employees the target of popular rage.
Excuse me while I wipe away the tears and compose myself. There are so many stories of unbearable hardship:
- It’s absolutely heartbreaking to read about those unfortunate, oppressed, and under-appreciated bureaucrats who live in “a leafy section of Fairfax County where houses sell in the $700,000 range.”
- And you can understand my tears of sympathy for folks who, as one bureaucrat admitted, had jobs where the “pay was guaranteed and you couldn’t get laid off.”
- Moreover, we all share the pain of bureaucrats who must deal with uncomfortable comparisons, such as the fact that “pensions, once considered routine, have become a wild luxury in the private sector, so when many Americans hear that public employees still get retirement pay, they can get frustrated.”