Don't fold, staple or mutilate me

Tuesday - 5/27/2014, 2:00am EDT

Feds whose jobs put them in direct contact with the public must be treading lightly these days. That includes people at the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, the Transportation Security Administration and, right now, the Veterans Affairs Department.

VA is much in the news and none of it is good. Politicians from both political parties have taken a break from beating up on each other to concentrate their flack on the VA. Everybody and his brother is calling on Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. One top official — who testified alongside Shinseki on Capitol Hill recently — has already gone. But he had planned to retire this year in any case. Whether he volunteered or was pushed under the bus, his resignation isn't going to satisfy critics.

In a bipartisan vote, the House has given the VA secretary the power to fast-track the firing of career senior executives, even though he said he didn't want or need it. Backers say it's a way to get justice done and send a message to political appointees and career bureaucrats who bend the law or fail to do their job. Opponents say it strips VA employees of their due-process protections and that workers in other agencies may be next.

If it is proved that VA officials and employees cooked the books, endangering very old, sick vets, heads will roll. Hopefully the right heads, not those of designated bad guys.

So what could happen to VA employees who may have kept false records as a cover-up for care delayed or denied. What should happen to them?

During the anti-war demonstrations of the 1960s and '70s, Defense Department workers sometimes literally had to run a gauntlet to get to and from the office. While the protestors were for peace and humanity, some still tossed bricks and set oil drums afire, then set them rolling down hills to block traffic. I know — I was there. Dodging things.

IRS workers get threatened on a daily basis. One, in an IRS office in Austin, died when a "disgruntled" taxpayer flew a suicide mission (in a rented aircraft) into the building.

TSA employees take a lot of verbal abuse from frustrated, sometimes drunk, sometimes just crazy passengers. It happens all over every day.

Many Social Security offices have guards. For good reason.

Nobody knows how many heads will roll before the VA issue is "fixed," or replaced by another crisis. But the worst, for the VA, is yet to come.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

Maine is the only single-syllable state name.

(Today I Found Out)


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