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Friday, June 13, 2003
James Garfield, this one's for you
Less than 15% of the American workforce is unionized. The New York Times thinks it's awful that many government workers might have to suffer under some of the same oppressive working conditions faced by the other 85% of the population:
The House has already rubber-stamped a plan proposed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who wants the "flexibility" to become in effect the potentate of payroll. Under that bill, Mr. Rumsfeld and his managers would have final word on the merit, demerit and pay raises of workers, who would have minimal recourse to appeal. Workers are understandably anxious about this work force revolution, warning of a retreat toward the 19th-century spoils system of patronage and cronyism.
For some reason, I can't seem to muster any sympathy. Perhaps government clerks working in air-conditioned offices in the Pentagon don't quite conjure up images of immigrants toiling in sweatshops in the garment district. It's understandable why government employees are opposed to reforms that would eliminate automatic pay increases and allow government employees to be fired without an appeals system that takes longer than the death penalty's appellate process. It's just unclear to me why the rest of us should be concerned. Does the Times really believe that the Secretary of Defense is going to personally go around policing a three-quarters of a million-person workforce, promoting only those who gave money to the right political party?

(And what if that did happen? Would it really hurt the quality of the federal workforce all that much, anyway?)

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