The large American Federal Bureaucracy was founded to replace the “spoils system” that allowed those elected to place all their friends/relatives/cronies/campaign contributors into offices where they could then go on to help their friends/neighbors/relatives/cronies.
The idea was to make bureaucrats non political, and represent the people and follow the regulations rather than to promote a political agenda by using the power of their government office.
You get the job impartially by applying and taking an examination. Yes, there is some discrimination in hiring (veterans preference, Native American preference for offices that handle Native American affairs) but as a whole, you don’t discriminate in hiring, nor are those hired supposed to discriminate against anyone.
So the charges of brought by a rightwing blog against Shirley Sherrod of reverse racism a charge suggested by an edited video, quickly became a firestorm. The charges were false, according to later reports and a closer look at the unedited tape.
Yet I was puzzled: The charges were followed by her firing/resignation, and then quickly by her rehiring.
Whoa, fellows. It doesn’t work that way for people in Civil Service jobs.
She could have been put on leave until given a hearing, but not fired. There are strict job protections that make it hard to fire anyone in government service.
Ah, but then I found out, she was a political appointee, not a Civil service employee.
Here is a woman who was deeply involved in helping farmers using her skills as a community organizer. In this private position, she did great things for local black farmers.
But now that her court case has been settled, shouldn’t it have raised eyebrows that she was hired by this same agency? Or that a woman who is known for her advocacy of black farmers will now mete out taxpayer money, which gives the appearance that she will continue her advocacy in her new position? What’s wrong with this picture?
The shame is that the USDA was politicized when it denied funding to black farmers, but how is hiring a biased political organizer to make decisions on who gets money an improvement?
Seems like a brand new “spoils system” to me.
But this isn’t the only troubling political link that is harming the idea of a “politically neutral” government employee sector.
There is a union problem.
One expects unions such as the United Mine Workers to back parties (e.g. Democrats) in elections with big money because they want sympathetic representatives in Congress and other elected offices.
But what does it mean when a union representing government employees gives millions to a candidate who will increase their members by increasing laws and regulations and government take overs?
Isn’t that a “conflict of interest”?
Here in the Philippines, when we had a crisis and rice shortage, local markets that sold the government subsidized rice to the poor had our lovely president Gloria’s picture at the shops. And the TV networks had plenty of advertisements assuring us that she was giving all this money to help poor Filipinos (locals, who tended to back Erap, bought the rice, and shrugged, and wrote “Gloria the Laundress” under her photo, a local slur).
My point is that Arroyo was using government funding as if it were her own,Â to increase her personal popularity and power.Similarly, there was a “fertilizer scam” where politicians could give out cheap fertilizer to their farmers just before the election.Â Duh. Why not just pay cash for the vote, like most honest politicians here?)
So my question is: Is the USDA now a political organization that hands out jobs to supporters of the party in office? And does the presence of a civil rights community organizer in a USDA job give the appearance of bias in favor of those who were discriminated against in the past, a minority group who just happens to back a certain political party in elections?
So the question is not that Ms.Sherrod is not a person who has done great deeds in helping black farmers overcome discrimination.
The real question is why she was given a job where her very presence suggested that any money she gave out represented this administration, not the government of the people and by the people and for the people.