When my wife and I were building the house, we had a propane tank installed. The propane company dug a trench from the tank to the house, which was supposed to be 18 inches deep but was actually about six. They had to come out and re-dig it. Then the installers forgot half the mounting bracket for the heater, so the heater tilted downward about ten degrees. I told the installers it looked odd but they said that’s the way it was supposed to look. I called them back after reading the installation instructions myself.
My propane company is not a state agency. Neither is the the contractor who screwed up my slab so badly I put a wood floor on top of it. Or the one who screwed up the porch in the old house so badly I had to rebuild the rails before selling the house ( which was an unfortunate waste of time as housing prices were falling ). Neither is the cable company, that wants to charge almost three thousand dollars for the privilege of having a cable installed so I can then pay them a monthly fee for the privilege of using that cable. Neither is the medical office that screwed up Sasha’s bill a half a dozen times. Nor is the maker of Rebekah’s laptop, with the hard disk that crashed after two months so Rebekah spent $1000 recovering all of her vacation pictures. Or the travel company that screwed up her arrangements at the airport. Neither is McDonald’s, who, during the latest outbreak of crud in Suffolk wouldn’t send sick workers home with their runny noses dripping all over your whole beef patties.
I’ve certainly dealt with incompetence in the government, especially while building my house. But for the most part, the city workers who I’ve dealt with during construction have been helpful, informative, and put in the necessary hours. We’ve all heard horror stories about the police but the Suffolk cop who handled an unfortunate incident involving my son showed an outstanding degree of courtesy and professionalism. My city, my state and my federal government work together to maintain what I believe is the safest and most effective system of streets and highways in the world. My city’s Parks and Recreation department is running outstanding programs to improve the health of Suffolk residents, while providing enriching services for our youth. This will save money by reducing health care costs and crime. Open Virginia is doing a great job putting budget and policy information on line so we citizens can better monitor the use of our tax dollars.
Take an honest assessment of your dealings with the government and compare that to your dealings with private companies and you’ll find that in any industry there are good workers and bad workers, as well as good workers having bad days and vice versa.
And while there are some very cushy government jobs, many government workers are highly stressed and working for low pay and with limited resources. Bashing teachers seems to be all the rage lately, since they supposedly have such easy jobs, but before I retired, a co-worker’s wife was about to quit a teaching job because of the stress (I don’t remember if she actually quit). As far as other government jobs go, I know that a lot of military retirees work for the private sector getting paid quite a bit more than they would if they got comparable jobs working for the government. When I see (and smell) people paving the road on a hot day, I think “I’d have to get paid a lot to do a job like that.”
If government jobs were so cushy and the benefits were so grand, we’d all be clamoring for government work. Some say they have too much pride to take a government job, but if they were such hard workers and so proud of it, they would work for the government and improve things from the inside. In fact a lot of people do. But I think the loudest and most aggressive voices damning government workers are those of people who can’t get ahead at whatever job they’re working at, and are participating in the trend of blaming the government for all of their problems.
Governments should be limited. But one can say so while considering different opinions about how limited the government should be and without giving in to the maniacal hatred of government which is exemplified in the professional opinions and the public comments that I’ve read in the media lately. Many federal, state, and municipal workers work very hard at low paying jobs, which they take because they want to work for their fellow citizens. It’s time to stop with the crazy disparaging remarks, start expressing honest opinions about the role of government in our lives, and ensure that vital government jobs are attractive to the hardest working and brightest among us.