Sunday, May 24, 2009
Goin’ Back to DC Blues
I used to live in Northern Virginia. For those who are unfamiliar with the Fairfax/ Prince William/ Loudoun County complex it is a stretch of traffic ensnarled suburbia filled to the hilt with federal employees. Here one can find every kind and perturbation of bureaucrat. From FDA paper pusher to CIA covert operative. From Homeland Security domestic intel gatherer to DIA overseas intel gatherer. They all live here and shop at the same malls.
The military and the contractors that feed off of the military budget are of course well represented here. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a defense contactor. Seriously they are everywhere.
And there are also the many technology companies that populate the “silicon corridor” near Tyson’s Corner that suckle at the federal teat.
The Washington suburbs are rife with people who are in one way or another working the system. Big surprise right?
But for those who are unfamiliar with Washington DC culture, for those of you who have no idea what a “slug line” is, or would be completely confused if someone told you that they were a GS15 at a cocktail party, be happy. You don’t want to be familiar with it. But you should know about it.
First and foremost the Beltway culture is one based on an extreme sense of entitlement. Many federal employees believe that they are owed a job- and a fairly high paying one at that. They deserve a bullet proof pension paid for by the taxpayer even though the tax payers footing the bill could never dream of such security in retirement. But the federal worker deserves, and I’ve heard it many times, his pension for the 20 years he worked at the Department of Rulemaking and Time Wasting. He has put his “time” in.
What’s worse is that many federal workers who have been provided a fairly comfortable life on the tax payer’s dime look at the people who aren’t in the “system” as suckers. Trust me, a close family relation told me as much.
“Why would you want to be an entrepreneur? It’s so risky. A good government job will pay you probably as much as you would make as a successful business owner, plus you get all kinds of days off and a healthcare package that can’t be beat.”
“But,” I said, “All those benefits are provided by people out in the real world who take on risk and build businesses and pay their taxes.”
“ Suckers.” My relation said.
I don’t believe that the average American in say Cleveland, has any idea of the extent to which he or she is being played for a fool.
It’s one thing to provide a living for people who live on welfare. That’s irritating. But if folks had any idea of the culture of arrogance and entitlement that permeates every pore of the Washington bureaucratic class, I think they’d be more than pissed.
Few people know for instance that the 3 wealthiest counties in the USA surround Washington DC. The average household income in these counties is about $100,000. The reason for this is because of the high number of civil servants (to be kind) who live in the area.
And remember these people can’t be laid off. They can’t be fired. They have every federal holiday off and a very generous leave regime. Not to mention the pension already mentioned and God knows what else in the way of perks.
These folks have these things because some guy out in Peoria had the balls to go out and follow a dream and start a business. Everyone seems to forget that part.
I am writing about this today because after 5 years away I am rejoining the fray in Washington. My business has died, as is common these days, and so I must find gainful employment where there are jobs. There are jobs in NOVA.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am thankful that employment options exist. If they are in Washington then I say thank you. It’s no fun to be poor.
But after hustling the last 5 years for a dream that in the end died, I am going to have a hard time suffering any federal employee who bitches that his cost of living raise wasn’t enough this year. I may have to punch him in the face.
Posted by Nick Sorrentino at 12:48 AM