The two jail staffers who were guarding Jeffrey Epstein the night he died were placed on leave Tuesday. With the Justice Department’s investigation of Epstein’s death, the warden of the New York detention center was reassigned. But don’t think for a moment that the gross negligence involved with Epstein’s death will get these guys fired.
As Inez Stepman of The Federalist notes, our modern civil service is neither efficient nor apolitical. “The efficiency of the federal government is a perpetual joke, due in no small part to a system of employment that makes firing lazy, incompetent, or outright defiant workers nearly impossible.”
It can take years and multiple appeals—proceedings that give the dismissed employee a level of protection comparable to a civil trial—to fire someone for even the most obvious of causes. DeWayne Hamlin, a corrupt manager at Veterans’ Affairs, was convicted of a felony while on the job by the standards of a criminal court, but still was allowed to resume work (and get paid) while his civil service appeals played out for months.
The frustrations of keeping on inefficient employees pale in comparison to the consequences of shielding an entire class of people who exercise government power from democratic accountability.
The only places more politically lopsided than the civil service are our university faculty lounges! The career service could fairly be described as the branch of the Democratic Party that does not have the inconvenience of standing for election.
Modernizing the civil service won’t turn back the clock to the age of the spoils system—which, as an aside, included some of the best-run administrations in American history, such as Abraham Lincoln’s.
Instead, reforming federal employment to look more like what the average private-sector taxpayer encounters at his job will make the government more efficient and, more importantly, make sure that elections have consequences, even in Washington.
DC bureaucrats have a stranglehold on government. Victor Davis Hanson has a solution here.
Read more from Stepman at The Federalist here.