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Why Are Public Employees Protected?

Because politicians are a criminal class, is the basic answer.

For more than 80 years after George Washington became the first President, all Federal employees “served at the pleasure of the President”. Every village postmaster was a Presidential appointee, literally every job was filled by the President.

Well the country expanded and political parties oozed out of the corruption caused by any collection of money. So the President appointed people suggested by local politicians, and every time the Presidency changed hands, massive numbers of jobs changed hands in what was known as the “spoils system”.

People were hired based on campaign contributions [bribes. and the practice still applies to ambassadorships] and the job holders were expected to continue to support their patrons [kickbacks from their salaries].

A lot of people got fed up and the rules were changed by multiple laws. The Civil Service was taken out of the world of politics and put on the basis of ability to do the job. Public employees can only be fired for failing to do their jobs, not at the whim of politicians, managers, or supervisors.

People who say you can’t fire public employees are too stupid to understand the rules. I have done it when I was on Civil Service and if you follow the rules, the employee generally resigns, knowing that they have no chance of keeping the job they weren’t doing. It isn’t immediate, and you have to maintain a “paper trail”, but the result is never in doubt.

You can’t fire people who are doing their job. You can’t give people “outstanding” performance reviews, and then claim they can’t do their job. You can’t simply complain about them. You follow the procedure and keep the records.

Public employees are protected because voters elect scum to public office. If the voters displayed a bit more discretion, Civil service wouldn’t be necessary.

1 comment

1 Badtux { 02.23.11 at 10:57 am }

And this is also, BTW, why pensions for civil servants were originally created — to give civil servants an incentive to stay on the straight and narrow, because if they got caught grifting, they’d at the very least get fired and lose their pension. The results for the federal government after they switched from pensions to Social Security for federal workers should be enlightening there — Wall Street’s regulators are the same people as Wall Street’s fat cats, because there’s a revolving door between them, because there’s no longer a pension to give regulators an incentive to stay employed by the Federal government and stay on the straight and narrow.

And that, in the end, is why the Koch Brothers are trying so hard to eliminate public employee pensions at the local and state levels — having utterly corrupted the Federal bureaucracy, now they want to do the same at the state and local level. And the majority of the American public seems willing to go along out of spite. Siiiiiiigh… WASF.

-Badtux the Waddling Penguin