One of the biggest challenges of being young and ambitious and employed by the federal government all at the same time is that due to it effectively being a closed system, the ranks are filled with crusty old bastards who are blocking your route to plum assignments. They’ve been retired in place for years now and have no intention of leaving. For the generation coming up through the ranks, these are nothing so much as roadblocks, whose skill sets and mentality would be better suited for the government of 1967 than that of 2007. I’m not suggesting here that there should be a mandatory retirement age, just that there reaches a point where it’s no longer in the best interest of the government to keep these people on the payroll. In fact, I don’t know why you would reach 40 years of service and actually still want to hang around. Personally, I’m planning on playing a hell of a lot of golf by that stage of the game.
Of course the reality is that the federal bureaucracy is, at some unspoken level, a make work program whose personnel system has an unfortunate tendency to softly discourage young employees from turning a job into a career. When there is no clear path to advancement or even lateral transfer into a more attractive position, what incentive does a mid-level 20-something employee have to stay the course? Why would they wait, possibly for years, for a position or a promotion that no one can guarantee? Organizational loyalty is a great thing, but it has to work both ways. If you can’t reward the hard work and dedication of the Young Turks who designed and helped build the organization, they have to look to other opportunities and to their own future. Our generation isn’t one to sit around and “pay dues” just because that’s what our parent’s generation did.
The time has come to distribute the spoils of the transition we helped carry out. Historically, though, revolutions have a bad habit of eating their own young – just ask Robespierre or Marat. I’d recommend we all stay out of the tub for a while, just to be on the safe side of things.