Friday, October 18, 2013

The Fix

I was nearly in tears yesterday morning when I read that the House had passed the Senate's bill reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling.

Tears of relief.

I shouldn't feel that way about a job with the government. It is crazy that I, that we, have to worry about our government defaulting on the bills it has already agreed to. We aren't talking about budget cuts. Clearly there is some room there. We are talking about paying the money that the government has already borrowed and spent.

There should be security in loaning money to the federal government, just as there should be security in being a federal employee.

But there isn't anymore. That debt the U.S. has? That everyone says China holds? Well only just under a third of it is owned by foreign entities. More than a third is held in U.S. Government accounts. Most of the rest is held by a variety of investors, like mutual funds, pension funds, even the federal reserve. Oh wait, did I say mutual funds? Did you say you have one? Then yes, you too are a creditor of the federal government.

As am I. I hold government bonds in my portfolio, though not many because they are so secure, they aren't much risk. So they don't pay as much in return.

I considered selling my government stocks and bonds last week...because they no longer felt secure.

How crazy is that? How crazy is it that the U.S. government could no longer be considered the safe bet?

But it just isn't any more. Thanks for that, Congress.

So the shutdown is over, but the damage is done. One Senator speculated on what this has done to the "Republican Brand." I worry about what it has done to the American brand. Are people going to be less trusting that we are a safe investment? Probably. Are those affected by the shut down, those who were laid off or expected to be laid off, going to be willing to spend as freely even now that they are getting paid again? Probably not. And all of this is bad for the economy. Bad for America. That same Senator said it was time to put America before the Republican party. He is right and wrong. It is ALWAYS time to put our country ahead of our party. Always.

And they didn't do that even in the fix, because the fix is only temporary. We could go through this again in January, again in February.

I am sure I am not the only federal employee wondering whether it is worth it. Wondering whether service to a country that doesn't appreciate those who serve it is worth the risk. We love serving our country, but in choosing to do so, we traded the possible financial reward of the private sector for the job security of government work, and received neither.

So as I look around for my next assignment during bidding season, maybe I should look a little further afield, to jobs outside of government service. Because I am no longer sure I serve a trust-worthy employer.

And I am not sure what the fix is for that.

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