It seems that the country is becoming more and more polarized. Right wingers have become far-right-wingers, and left wingers are moving far-left, all are becoming wing-nuts. I’ve been a federal employee for (gulp) 25 years and it’s rarely been something to be “proud” of to non federal people, i.e. the general public. Perception of federal employees as lazy, overpaid, incompetent, among other adjectives are widespread. With the Obama administration there seems to be some recognition that this perception is an actual problem.
When people observe the wasteful practices generally perpetuated by congress, they associate that with a wasteful incompetent government and of course those working in the government must also be wasteful and incompetent.
I just have this bad smell of growing numbers of people claiming we are overpaid (http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2010/03/05/federal-pay-gap-reversed/) and more frighteningly to be attacked. The attack on the IRS building (http://www.theledger.com/article/20100308/NEWS/3085004/1308/TIMEOUT?p=3&tc=pg) in Austin Texas last month strikes me as a canary in the coal mine type of behavior. Of course everyone loves to hate the IRS (no I don’t work for them) but the reality is they are just feds doing their job. In the press everyone condems this as the isolated actions of a crazed individual, and often that is followed up with, statements such as “yeah but I understand his frustrations”. Thus implicitly condoning the action or at least tolerating it. Let’s not forget about last weeks Pentagon shooting also linked to anti-government thinking http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iCKwXk17aAr3T_8Z9nN4iUwQPnngD9E8KP283. Finally AOL reports on a rapid rise of anti-government groups http://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/anti-government-groups-show-astonishing-rise-watchdog-warns/19379350.
So my question is simple, how do we change this perception of federal employees as the enemy?