Are you due a career do-over?

“Do-over” — a new attempt or opportunity to try or perform something after a previous attempt has been unsuccessful or unsatisfactory.

I’ve carefully avoided saying aloud the old phrase, “if I knew then what I know now.” But I sure have thought it many, many times. So if you had it to do over again, would you? Would you have married X instead Y, moved to Washington state instead of Washington, D.C., or followed through on that 1994 pledge to floss every day?

Maybe you would have taken that long-ago job with Amazon, which might have made you a millionaire, or gone with Lehman Brothers — which means you might be celebrating your 10th year of unemployment this month — instead of joining the IRS or the Defense Department?

All of the above are clown questions, to be sure. We can’t go back. It doesn’t work that way. Still, do you ever regret that you have, are or will be spending a career as a federal civil servant?

Given what has happened to retirement plans in the private sector, Uncle Sam looks mighty good, whether the Federal Employees Retirement System or the Civil Service Retirement System —  compared to just about any company, large or small. But every year the federal retirement program comes under attack and while it has survived intact so far, anything could happen.

Friday’s column spelled out some of the downsides of working for Uncle Sam, and it asked the question: “If you have the do-over option, would you cast your lot with the government again?”

Interestingly, the majority responded said yes but a few said that they enjoyed most of their career, that is until Congress and the media started hitting feds. Most said that, warts and all, they are glad to be feds. Not surprisingly, if you know anything about career feds, many cited “service” or the chance to serve as the best thing about the job. For example:

“Interesting column. Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat. Sure I’ve had some ups and downs but the government has been a good employer. I’ve worked with some fantastic people and we all had the chance almost every day to actually serve the American public. Best job in the world? Probably.”

James H., Department of the Army

”I am a FERS retiree from 2009. I worked for the Air Defense Artillery Branch at Fort Bliss, Texas.
I keep up on all the news concerning pay, benefits, retirement, etc. It has me concerned about what is going on in Washington these days. They don’t seem to comprehend how the people out here feel.

“I worked hard for my retirement. Now it seems that every other day, or every day, more bad news comes out of Washington. We worked for our benefits. We did not ask for handouts.

“Not all government jobs can be handled by someone off the street. The majority of the positions have to have years of training to accomplish.

“Before all this talk about cutting benefits, that government workers are lazy and overpaid, etc., started, I would have told anyone and everyone to work for the government in some form or other.
Now, I would caution anyone from taking a job with the government. I would even discourage them from looking into it. Sad state of affairs, just plain sad.”

— Richard T. Wagner, of Batesville, Indiana (DoD/DA Civilian (Ret) NARFE Indiana Chapter 0813)

“I remember when the media started running front page items to the effect that federal government workers are paid more than their counterparts in the private sector. That, to me, was the start of the political assault on government service.

“I’ve enjoyed my time with the IRS despite many political attacks, however the antigovernment worker drumbeat is getting old. Yes, I would do it again. Ask me the same question this time next year and it might be no.”

— Hank of Austin, Texas

“Sure I would. I have worked with and for some great people. I have gotten to use some neat equipment and the benefits package is great. You forgot to mention another plus: Your boss just can’t walk into your office and say ‘I don’t like you, you’re fired, get out.’ This can and does happen in private industry.”

— Mark G.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

The fear of marshmallows is called althaiophobia, from the plant’s scientific name “Althaea officinalis.”

Source: Cottage Life

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