Stein: Bureaucrats Are Great, So Lay Off

Contributer Ben Stein on "Sunday Morning"
Contributer Ben Stein on "Sunday Morning"

CBS Sunday Morning Contributor Ben Stein on why we should be just a little more grateful for the people who work in government ...

There is a basic assumption among many of us conservatives that bothers me. Basically, the assumption is that if a person is a government employee, then he or she is lazy and shiftless, a parasite just eating up tax dollars without doing anything.

"Bureaucrats" is what the sneering expression usually is.

To put it mildly, this is unfair and not even in the ballpark of what's true.

Government employees include cops and firefighters, who do some of the most dangerous, vital work in the society. Government employees include prosecutors and prison guards, who do work that is often extremely difficult and deeply necessary.

Government employees are the doctors and nurses at VA hospitals. They are the teachers who try to teach our kids. They are the men and women who keep track of our economic and health statistics, without which we cannot measure progress or failure.

Government employees are the CIA agents who launch drone strikes to kill terrorists and who sometimes get killed. Bureaucrats would include the people of the FBI and it would also include the men and women at the Pentagon who guide our armed forces. These people are the muscle and bone of the nation.

Long ago, Alben Barkley, Harry Truman's Vice President, keenly said that "a bureaucrat is a Democrat who has a job a Republican wants." I am not sure that's true, but I have been a bureaucrat in my youth and I never worked so hard for so little money in my life, and my fellow employees were in the same galley slave boat.

I am sure there are many government employees who waste money but so are there wasteful private sector people.

Let's take our conservative noses out of the air and stop sneering at the people who serve us in the civil service. We would be awfully sad if they were gone, even the ones in the Department of Motor Vehicles.