Warner Todd Huston
Politico cries over lost jobs of Hill staffers in November
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By Warner Todd Huston
September 17, 2010

"I think people underestimate how disastrous this could be," says a Democrat Congressional staffer who worries over losing his job once all the new Republicans sweep into Congress after the November elections. Politico's Erika Lovley seems also to worry about the "massive layoffs" that will come to staffers in November. But to me this is one type of job loss to celebrate not cry over.

Lovley gravely warns that if Republicans win big in the elections, "it's not just elected Democrats who will be unemployed — more than 1,500 Democratic staffers could lose their jobs, with layoffs stretching from low-wage staff assistants to six-figure committee aides."

Oh the humanities. Time to warm up the tiniest violin in the world to accompany this pity party.

Politico really indulges this story of the "disaster" for Hill staffers as if it is something we should all feel bad about, as if it is a national crisis.

    "It's similar to a plant closing. About one-third of your colleagues lose their jobs," said former Hill aide John Edgell, who lost his job as a Democratic aide when Republicans swept the Hill in 1994. He said he struggled for months to find a job. "You go through seven stages of grief ... Your two best friends become Jim Beam and Johnny Walker."

Similar to a plant closing? Hardly.

The story is filled with harried staffers trying to "brush up their resumes," jostling for spots in a "crowded job pool," and carping about an "increased level of stress" because of the uncertainty due to the coming elections.

Hard to feel sorry for these people that are finally getting a taste of what the rest of the nation has been dealing with since the Democrats came to power.

Interestingly we discover here that staffers that serve Congressional committees don't lose their jobs quite as often even when lawmakers change. These staffers serve the committee as opposed to the individual politicians.

Again, though, it is very hard to get all worked up over the loss of jobs that these staffers are "suffering." After all, some of the problems we face in congress are due to the fact that many of these staffers seem never to leave. These staffers form a class of professionals akin to those trained in the academy in France that trains its professional political class, the École Nationale d'Administration. Graduates of this French institution serve as an unelected buffer between the actual crafting of legislation and the administration of government and the people and staffers in America come dangerously close to acting in the same way.

These staffer write the bills, these staffers, control the flow of communications, these staffers can sometimes have more influence over the laws that are written to control us all than our elected officials do. So, pardon me if I don't feel too bad for their loss.

In fact, I rather like the idea that many staffers might lose their job. In the past I have half kidded that I'd welcome the days of patronage again where every single election sees a house cleaning that eliminates all previous government workers from the lowest dogcatcher's position to top Congressional staffers.

And as the hangers on and "placemen" (as the Founders used to call them) grows so does the amount of tax money that is wasted on the jobs that Politico laments the loss of — not to mention the hampering of representation voters suffer as staffers glom onto the reins of the process.

Are all staffers bad? Of course not. Do all Congressmen and Senators allow their staffers to run wild? Certainly not. But let's not allow them the opportunity, shall we?

Might I suggest that there should be no such thing as a professional staffer who stays in Washington election after election? Might I suggest that having a nearly permanent class of professional staffers dilutes our system and takes power away from we the people?

We've gone down a dangerous path with powerful staffers that seem to have long-term jobs. Such staffers put up yet one more obstacle between the voters and their representatives. This needs to end. We must once again expect our representatives in both houses of Congress to do their job instead of sloughing it off on these professional staffers.

In that case, I find these staffers crying to be soothing instead of alarming. I want to thank them for spending some time serving in Washington, but I want to urge them to go home and do something useful with their lives. Stop writing my Congressman's legislation. Make HIM do it. Stop scheduling my Congressman's day. Let HIM do it. Stop standing as the gatekeeper between my Congressman and I. Let us GET to him!

Go home, staffers. Start a business. Add to the economy instead of merely taking from it.

© Warner Todd Huston

 

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Warner Todd Huston

Warner Todd Huston's thoughtful commentary, sometimes irreverent often historically based, is featured on many websites... (more)

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