Thursday, February 1, 2018

Substitute "government" for "Hawaii" and I think this guy is on to something

The Washington Post ran a piece today on the op-ed page by one of its employees with the headline The Missile Employee Messed Up Because Hawaii Rewards Incompetence.

The author, formerly a public employee in Hawaii and later a journalist there, lays out the background of the incompetent fuck who panicked an entire state:
This week, we learned the man responsible for the bogus Hawaii missile alert kept his job for a decade even though he had a history of performance problems and has been a “source of concern,” according to an Federal Communications Commission report. His co-workers had expressed discomfort about his leadership, and the FCC said he has been “unable to comprehend the situation at hand and has confused real life events and drills on at least two separate occasions.” Although the emergency management supervisor, who remains unnamed, was a union member, he could have been fired at will. Instead, he was promoted to a leadership role. “Why,” Gizmodo understandably wondered, “was the employee in a position to send a false missile alarm to a couple million people?”
The author then attributes this monumental fuck-up to a uniquely Hawaiian situation:
There is a strong assumption in the islands that once you enter the state government system, you are set for life. There are great retirement benefits, union protections and the ability to move up, and laterally, across departments. (According to figures drawn from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hawaii has the second-highest rate of union membership — more than 20 percent — after New York.) The prevailing assumption is: You do not have to work that hard.
Um, I don't know how long this guy has worked in Washington, but he is really missing the point. Yes, unions are part of the problem, but it isn't the state's level of unionization, it is the government's level of union membership. Private sector union membership is in the low single digits. Government employee union membership is about 40 percent. Further, civil service "reform" laws make it virtually impossible to fire government employees, regardless of how bad they are at their jobs. Unlike their private sector counterparts, not only do government employees not need to be good at their jobs (after they get through their first year probationary period, during which they must avoid being caught smoking dope at their desk) they can be just fucking awful at their jobs and still get a cost-of-living raise every year. Automatic raises are strictly a perk of government employment.

Hawaii might be really bad, or even worse than any other state, when it comes to rewarding incompetence. But they are by no means alone. Any system that gives raises regardless of performance, makes it difficult to impossible to fire someone for incompetence and offers generous retirement benefits base solely on whether you managed to avoid that near-impossible firing for incompetence is, by definition, rewarding incompetence. That effectively describes all government employment.

Sure, there are competent, dedicated government employees. No one who has been to get a drivers' license believes those employees are in the majority.

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