Rachel Marsden


By now you've likely heard about the infamous Las Vegas convention bash during which federal civil servants at the General Services Administration indulged in various frivolities to the tune of $823,000 of your money. That conference featured, among other things, a hired professional clown -- which is like Picasso hiring some guy from out of the Yellow Pages to paint a mural.

As with political sex scandals, nothing vaults a fiscal scandal into the headlines faster than photographic or video evidence. The GSA spendthrifts didn't even have the good sense to shoot their series of "let's joke about how we're going to help blow money on Barack Obama's green-stimulus initiatives" and "I'm a screw-about who'll never be under investigation" evidence exclusively below the neck.

So here we are, with congressional investigations being launched and high-level appointees like GSA chief Martha Johnson being professionally guillotined like the patronage-appointed Marie Antoinettes they are. Are we really surprised that a leadership so unabashedly non-meritocratic has just plunged onto its own sword? I was hardly shocked when I Googled Martha Johnson's name and the first thing I saw was a photo of her hovering over Obama's shoulder as he signed the civil service telecommute-from-bed legislation.

By the way, only an utter fool could possibly believe that the GSA fiasco is a partisan issue, or that it started under Obama. Frittering away cash is the civil service's original sin. When government created the very first civil service post way back when, it likely gave that person a budget and an eight-hour day, and he Houdini-ed it away before sundown. "Use it or lose it" has been the motto ever since: Find a way to max out the budget and prove the funds are needed, or they won't be reallocated. And did the GSA ever find a way to do that.

This is more than just an isolated incident; the entire civil service culture is a throwback that's becoming increasingly out of step with the reality of work in America and elsewhere in the world. Value for productivity is generally becoming more prevalent in the modern workforce, while the culture of outfits like the GSA continues to represent precisely the opposite.

Rachel Marsden

Rachel Marsden is a columnist with Human Events Magazine, and Editor-In-Chief of GrandCentralPolitical News Syndicate.
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