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Stepping on the Bureaucrat's Cape

October 8, 2013 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

Should government employees have privileges and legal immunities that the rest of us do not have? The government shutdown battle is, in part, a dispute about the extra subsidies members of Congress and their staffs are slated to get from Obamacare.

Civilian government employees often whine about the lack of respect they receive from their fellow Americans. Part of the antipathy many feel toward the government class is because they, on average, are paid more, receive more benefits, are almost impossible to fire, and are rarely penalized for abusive, rude and even illegal conduct that would get civilian workers fired, fined and, in some cases, sent to jail.

Congress needs to pass corrective legislation to rein in government employees who engage in lawless, abusive and irresponsible behavior, allowing private suits against them.”

It can be argued that it is unfair to paint all government workers with a charge that they are impertinent slackers when, in fact, many government employees work very hard and take many risks to help their fellow Americans. If civilian government employees were put on a more level playing field, where the real slackers and abusers were either fired or forced to shape up, the respect for all government employees would grow. Most Americans have a high respect for those in the military because people understand the real risks they take, and they also understand that the military does not tolerate incompetence or misbehavior regardless of rank. For example, two generals have just been dismissed because they failed to adequately protect some of their troops in Afghanistan.

If someone unfairly causes a person to suffer loss or harm resulting in a legal liability, it’s known as a “tort.” The victim may recover the loss as damages in a lawsuit. Legal injuries may be physical, emotional, economic or reputational, as well as violations of privacy, property or constitutional rights. If someone commits a tort in the course of his employment, both the employee and the employer may be sued. However, if a tort is committed by a government employee for approximately the same offense, it is far harder to sue the government because of the doctrine of “sovereign immunity.” Likewise, it is far harder to sue the government employee because of the concept of “official immunity” and certain laws designed to protect government employees. The Federal Tort Claims Act specifies and authorizes which tort suits can be …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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