It’s fair to assume that my outlook on most things runs somewhere between cynical and completely jaded. I like to think it comes from a lifetime of watching the world around me… or more spificially, the people who inhabit that world. I’ve rarely been disappointed when I ratchet my expectations for them way, way down.
Still, as much of a cynic as I am, I can’t help but understand the allure of finding yourself inside the orbit of the local chieftain or other center of power. Power, even petty power, or someone else’s power, can be intoxicating. I’d be lying if I told you I couldn’t see what might make people give up their personal life and join the cult of personality.
Look, I’m admitting I can see the draw. The attraction is understandable. I’m also 100% sure that there are no circumstances where I’d ever be that guy. Subsuming my own ideas and ways of doing things in the name of some great and powerful Oz-like figure just isn’t me. It isn’t me, but there are occasional moments where I feel the pull and realize how easy it might be to fall into that trap if conditions were otherwise.
I appreciate the bone that House Republicans are throwing at the 800,000 federal employees who spent most of the past week sitting at home waiting to go back to work. While I won’t presume to speak for 799,999 of them, all I can say is as much as I appreciate knowing I’ll receive back pay for the time spent locked out, it’s just a handout. What I really want, what I expect of my “leaders” at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, is that they will take action to actually put the federal government back to work. As hard as it might be for the political class to believe, I want to be allowed to work for a salary rather than receive a fist full of dollars through the largess of Congress.
A cynical person might say that Congress is trying to buy the silence of 800,000 people who are directly impacted by their actions in the Capitol. While I’ll cheerfully take you money, and it will pay my rent and buy my food and pick up the tab for Monday’s root canal, what it won’t buy is my silence. It won’t buy my willingness to be complicit in your halfassed power plays. Money for nothing almost always comes with strings.
The historic response of Congress to any problem they encounter is to throw money at it. I suggest at a time when it’s becoming more and more clear that our financial well is running dry, it would be better for all involved to actually pass a budget or a continuing resolution and put the 800,000 back to work instead of handing us money for nothing. Then again, I’m just a guy who’s been sitting home for the last five days growing a beard, so what do I know about it?
P.S. I am however, very interested in your Chicks for Free program. Go ahead and sign me up for that one.
(c) University of Florida
Government work tends to be one of those odd environments where up is down, good is evil, and logic is nonsense. It feels, at times, like a none-too-subtle combination of Groundhog Day and Dante’s Inferno. Maybe that’s an exaggeration… but only a little. I can say that with a degree of certainty because that’s the kind of day it’s been today.
At just after 11:00 this morning I was handed my formal notice that the United States Government plans to furlough me one day a week beginning on July 8th. Exactly 148 minutes later I received an email congratulating me on ten years of service to the government and notifying me that I’d be getting a certificate at the next office awards ceremony. You’d have to work pretty hard at sending two more discordant messages to your employees. Timing, as they say, is everything… even when it comes to giving with one hand and taking away with the other. I hope you’ll forgive me if I’m not in a rush to agree to parading across the stage, smiling for the photo op, and pretending that I give a good goddamn about another certificate in my three ring binder.
I’m sure at some point in the distant past, a nice suitable for framing certificate was a fine motivational tool… but unless I can barter that certificate for goods and services, under the circumstances, I think you can understand why I don’t think it’s worth the paper it’s printed on. I’m going to improvise, adapt, and overcome… but don’t expect that I’ll be thanking anyone for the opportunity.
And people wonder why I’m cynical about almost everything.