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Beware the stick man

In argumentation, one famous form is known as the "stick man." This is an argument where an often simple scenario is laid out and then easily knocked down by the proponent of the opposing view. Hence, the name stick man, because the argument topples over as easy as a stick man would.

Attacks on federal civil service job protections often take this form. One or two anecdotal experiences are conflated into the entire federal civil service. A story frames the discussion of the difficulty of firing federal workers as one of "red tape."

This then contrasted with the ease of terminating "bad" employees in the private sector. The irony is that they rarely complain that many private sector employees are wrongfully terminated. No, this is only to show how blissful labor relations are in the perfect world of the private sector.

This article points to the firing of two GSA officials as a result of the Las Vegas convention scandal. It disapprovingly notes that they were reinstated after they received due process. Shockingly, they proceedings found they were not responsible for the scheduling the conference, so should we not be decrying instead the politically motivated, knee-jerk-fire-everyone, process that resulted in their initial termination?

It is a sad commentary on the general state of employment law in the U.S., where employees are often subjected to adverse employment actions, and are left with little recourse.

Certainly, there are problem employees within the federal system, as there are with any employer the size of the federal government, and they can be fired, but it demands effort by supervisors and managers. Sadly, many are too unmotivated to effectively manage their workforce and would prefer an easy way out.

Fortunately, for federal employees, that is illegal.

cbsnews.com, "Red tape keeps some bad gov't workers from being fired," March 2, 2015

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