The shot heard round the government

In a column last week — The jab or your job: Will mandate trigger mass exodus? — an IRS employee, who exclusively works from home and never goes into the office, asked why he and others like him have to have THE SHOT. He didn’t say whether his objections were religious, medical or otherwise. Just that it doesn’t make sense, to him, to force feds who work remotely to get the COVID shots. By early November, in most agencies, workers who refuse the vaccine run a high risk of losing their jobs. He said that if forced to take the jabs, he’d probably retire at the end of the year or in early January. I wondered how many others felt the way he did. And if so, would it trigger the retirement tidal wave that experts have been predicting since the late 90s.

While the fact that few came to the anti-shot workers defense surprised me, it could mean anything. Maybe even the unthinkable. That not many people read it, or felt it unworthy of a response. But I expected some feds to rally to his defense. There have been news stories about groups of feds — many in law enforcement jobs — objecting to the mandate for a variety of reasons. There is no typical fed. Federal employees are better educated and more likely to be military veterans than their counterparts in the private sector.

Although some politicians believe that many federal workers are Democrats, voting patterns in states and districts with a large federal worker/retiree population don’t bear that out. Odds are a federal prison staffer in Ohio or Colorado is more like their neighbors than a curator at the Library of Congress and votes in Virginia or Maryland. And feds are everywhere — not just inside the beltway. There are tens of thousands in New York City. Uncle Sam is THE employer of choice in Huntsville, Alabama and Ogden, Utah — and many other places with a large federal presence because of a military base, an IRS or Postal Service center, or federal prison or research lab. Plus the government is more diverse, in everyway, than almost any large or medium sized organization in the U.S. Or probably anywhere else.

But, there were some who backed up the shot mandate. Like this from Geoff, who wrote:

“HI Mike,

Just a response/reaction to the other perspective in The jab or your job: Will mandate trigger mass exodus?

1. How (and why) can someone who is 100% telework, does not have a ‘customer facing’ job, is the only member of their Branch in the State (i.e. Michigan, Colorado, Florida), and, who has no need what-so-ever to enter any IRS facility, be forced to even tell their vaccination status and be forced to be vaccinated?

  • This person works in IT and does not recognize that not all laptop issues can be corrected remotely and may require an on-site visit to fix a potential problem!

2. What will be the ‘Process’ to handle those who make the private choice to not follow what is being dictated? I don’t take it kindly when someone dictates to me that I must be <fill this with most anything> — i.e. vaccinated for COVID.

  • This person forgets that they previously and their children or grandchildren currently must be vaccinated for measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and polio to attend public school!

I do not wish to meet this likely unmasked, unvaccinated person in the grocery store or Home Depot.

-Geoff

In God we trust, all others must bring data – W Edwards Deming

And this thoughtful pro-mandate comment from another reader:

I normally really appreciate your articles and what you share, but you gave voice to a contingent of the most selfish aspect of our society regarding the vaccine mandates. I’ve seen it in my agency as well and am just fed up with the selfishness of people who are themselves PUBLIC servants.

Why should anyone who teleworks 100% get a vaccine?

Because they LIVE in this country. They go to the store. They go to restaurants. They go to concerts. They go to all manner of places where they can become infected with a deadly virus (and a virus that gives 30% of people long COVID) at a time when our hospital systems in many areas of the country are overwhelmed.

Also, as a parent with a child who cannot get vaccinated, but still has to send my kid to school with other children who live in the same world as this “why should anyone tell me what to do, I can do whatever I want” I’m furious. There are MILLIONS of parents with young children who cannot get vaccinated while pediatric ICU’s are filling up. Also, there are folks who are immunocompromised who do not get the same protection from vaccines who will, if infected, have to deal with these overwhelmed hospitals.

The reason I do my job as a career fed, and the reason we all should get vaccinated, is that we care about each other and the country we SERVE. Not getting vaccinated, and complaining from people literally burning down the country and preventing us from fully reopening is the height of selfishness.

Mr. IRS who doesn’t want anyone telling him what to do can retire and those of us who are younger feds can thank our lucky stars we don’t have to deal with this person on a day to day basis. If he’s this recalcitrant about getting a vaccine, what is this person like in all manner of other settings?

I don’t think it was a thoughtful letter. I think it was a picture into our downfall as a society that gives a damn about others. Fire all these folks and let them retire if they don’t get vaccinated. Good riddance.

-Rob

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Alazar Moges

The record for Halloween spending was $9.1 billion in 2017.

Source: National Retail Federation

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