If I ever start feeling guilty about bashing government employees because of their salaries, usually higher than what they could earn in the private sector, and practically fireproof positions, I’ll just reread an article that appears in today’s Washington Post: “I Work for Uncle Sam, and I’m Proud of It.”
The author is a career foreign service officer named Jason Ullner. Mr. Ullner has a high opinion of government workers:
We are lawyers, doctors, PhD students, economists, writers, electricians, construction workers, security officers and technology specialists. We are not a drain on the national economy; rather, we are a primary reason why the United States remains as great as it is.
Mr. Ullner also has a high opinion of Mr. Ullner:
I have sacrificed: a high-paying job in the private sector; a year of my life (and the first six months of my daughter’s life) spent in Iraq; long hours; high stress; pay freezes.
I’m not complaining; in fact, I quite enjoy my career and my life in the Foreign Service. Yet when I hear our politicians talking about “fixing” Washington, I often wonder to myself: whom would they like to “fix?” Is it the guy I see on the Metro every day, heading to work at the Food and Drug Administration to ensure that our food is safe? Is it the woman going into Commerce Department headquarters to support U.S. companies abroad?
Or maybe these folks are going to their jobs at various government departments to harass the people who work in private industries with endless regulations and red tape? It does happen. Anyway, this kind of sacrifice reminds me of the time first-lady-to-be Michelle Obama, addressing low-income women, whined about the cost of ballet and piano lessons for her daughters.
It is nice that Mr. Ullner gets chills when he sees the American flag on one of our embassies abroad—that’s commendable and I’d hope that most people in the State Department feel the same way.
Indeed, Mr. Ullner’s belief that he could earn more in the private sector may be unrealistic—and most people might regard a chance to travel the world, even going to Iraq, as adventure rather than a sacrifice. And does Mr. Ullner think that government workers are the only folks who suffer wage freezes in this terrible economy?