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You might have noticed that I’m not Obama’s biggest fan. But grudgingly I must admit that there are one or two things he has gotten right.
Five years ago, the administration decided to help veterans find work after returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Vets have received preferential hiring for government jobs going back to WWII, but Obama further sweetened the formula in their favor. Last year, nearly half of all full-time hires were ex-military; now vets make up a full third of the federal workforce.
Great news, eh? Well, not for everyone. According to the Washington Post, non-military government workers resent this preferential treatment:
With veterans moving to the head of the hiring queue in the biggest numbers in a generation, there’s growing bitterness on both sides, according to dozens of interviews with federal employees.
Those who did not serve in the military bristle at times at the preferential hiring of veterans and accuse them of a blind deference to authority. The veterans chafe at what they say is a condescending view of their skills and experience and accuse many non-veterans of lacking a work ethic and sense of mission.
But what really gets under the skin of lifetime bureaucrats might be political:
Their colleagues in the civil service say that while veterans work hard, they rarely display independent thinking.
“You’re getting a very conservative worker that’s very narrow-minded,” said Bob O’Brien, a technology specialist for the Office of Personnel Management. About 90 of the 100 computer experts in his office in suburban Maryland are veterans, he said.
Icky. This “narrow-minded” conservative mindset is having a horrible side effect on governmental operations: Things are getting done.
In her first week on the job as a management analyst in HUD’s human resources office, Gwen Colvin, a former master sergeant in the Air Force, started to move the boxes she had brought with her so she could unpack them and hang her military commendations and other memorabilia on her office wall.
Her colleagues told her to wait for the maintenance staff to do those things because that was the protocol. Colvin said she was dumbfounded. In her view, she needed something done, so she did what she did in the military: She got it done.
On second thought, maybe a new breed of enthusiastic, hard-working federal bureaucrats isn’t such a great idea. The more time civil service types nap at the desk, download smut, and feign illness, the less time they have to complicate my life. Bringing on millions of can-do veterans could be the worst blow to limited government in a generation.
I’ve changed my mind. Obama messed this up too.