Pardoe’s Perspective: Government money games aren’t worth playing

This week I was a speaker at the McMullen Naval History Symposium at the US Naval Academy to present a paper on my upcoming book on the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was a conference that almost didn’t happen because of the specter of sequestration. Despite the fact that the vast majority of this conference is funded by donations – there was resistance on putting on the conference because of the appearance it might present in an air of budget cuts.

I recently was doing research at the National Archives and a large number of their PC’s had “Out of Order.” I was surprised at the number of machines (eight out of 10) that were broken. When I asked, I was told that the sequestration cuts had prevented them spending money to get the systems fixed.

Sequestration is not an issue about money – it is a game that is being played by politicians that directly impacts people’s lives. I received a letter recently from Eric Cantor telling me that government workers were paid much more than those in the private sector. Really? I’ve applied for jobs in the government. A comparable job for me would result in a massive salary cut. Sure, on average, government workers may make more than people in the private sector but that is because all of the entry level jobs in the government are outsourced – leaving you with the higher paid decision making and management roles. In this case, Representative Cantor is playing with the numbers – attempting to justify his stand. I’m embarrassed because I tend to be conservative and I expect more from my representative.

As further cuts of sequestration come into play, people are going to be asked to work fewer days a month – unpaid. How many of us would keep a job where we suffered a 10-20 percent indefinite pay cut? We are talking about employees not being able to make their mortgage or other bills because of this mythical man-made beast called sequestration.

Two parts of our government can’t work or play with each other. If they were children we would scold them or slap them on the bottom for bad behavior.

A lot of people that live and work in our county are federal government employees and this game that is being played 50 miles away is one that hits them directly in the pocketbook. They are pawns in this game being played. And as the game drags on, the infrastructure of our government will begin to fall apart. Because most of us non-government types don’t feel the pinch yet – we tend to not notice it. Sequestration to many of us is something that is happening to other people – people that just happen to be our friends and neighbors.

Worse yet, even as I write this our illustrious government is playing games (both sides/parties) on raising the budget ceiling and funding the government or letting it shut down. We will all suffer, federal employees feeling the pinch first. Rest assured the White House and Congress are not being sent home without pay to save money. Which begs the question, would any of us really notice if they were absent 20 percent of the time? Perhaps we’d have a bit of civility. That certainly would be a change.

You may think, “I’m not a government employee, so what do I care?” Well when they play these games the stock market slides and it hits your pension plan or 401k – trust me on this. The “stunts” that both sides are playing take money right out of your pocket – if not now, in the future. We all pay the price for their bad behavior, each and every time.

I grant you, the entire system of government employees and contractors needs an overhaul. We had the Snowden incident where a contractor stole classified material, and now the case of the shooter down at the Navy Yard. We need to take a serious look at the entire system of contractors vs. employees.

But for now, we need to resolve sequestration and these other artificially created financial crises. Funding has to be made stable. This means the President has to stop pointing the finger at Congress and act like a leader. It means Congress has to stop playing games with people’s income, livelihoods, and careers and start acting like good financial stewards for our nation.