Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Federal Employees Are Not The Problem

I am a retired Federal employee.  I worked for the Federal government for 30 years - eight in the military and 22 in Civil Service working for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  For 20 of those 22 years I worked in Federal prisons, ranging from medium security to maximum security.  For 20 of those 22 years I put my life on the line every day that I went to work.  (I spent two years as a management training instructor and for those two years I wasn't in danger.)  I have been involved in, and have witnessed murder, serious assault, escape attempts, riots and other behavior that put numerous people's lives in danger, including mine.  Fortunately, I survived fairly unscathed.

I am now retired and living on my pension.  I read all the time about how retired Federal employees make too much money and that their retirement is costing  the government billions of dollars.  The articles say there are 21,000 people taking home a six figure retirement salary.  OK.  As of December, 2011, there were over 2 million Federal employees.  One percent of those retired make a six figure salary.  It doesn't say who those people are, what they did or how much they made in their positions.  It doesn't even say whether or not they were politicians.  So 1% of the entire work force is a bad thing? 

In retirement I make about half of what I made while working.  And I paid into my own retirement for 30 years - anywhere from 5% to 10%.  Regardless of what someone uneducated might think - I earned my retirement.  Don't think so?  Do my former job for a week.  Stand face to face with a maximum security inmate inside a Federal prison and tell him what to do, and how to do it.  Get back to me after you do that.

In a discussion yesterday and earlier today I said that if Federal employees expect the debt, deficit, and spending to be reduced then they should expect to have their salary effected just as everyone else.  I still believe that.  I don't want to see Federal employees get pay cuts - particularly those who put their lives on the line every day.  But facts are facts.  Reduced Federal spending will effect Federal employees and retirees whether we want it to or not. 

What I would like to see is a reduction of the demonization of retired Federal employees.  Granted - there are some Federal employees who make a lot of money for very little work.  That's the nature of the beast.  But most of them, whether you believe it or not, earn their money and possibly earn more because of what they do.  In my humble opinion, anyone who puts their life on the line for the people of the United States of America deserve a pension that allows them to live in comfort after they retire.  Disagree with me all you want - I don't care.  I didn't take a job as a Federal Correctional Officer for the retirement package.  I took it as a means to support my family and provide them with food, clothing and health insurance.  When it turned into a retirement package that was an added bonus.

Federal employees, whether active or retired, are not the problem unless we're talking about elected officials.  The problem is Federal spending in general and entitlement programs.  (OMG - I said "entitlement programs"!!  The bane of the Democratic party...!)

The bottom line is this...  before you condemn all Federal employees and retirees as overpaid - find out what it is you're paying them for and whether or not what they do effects you.  Think Federal prison workers don't effect you?  Imagine what could happen if they didn't do their jobs.

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