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Trying To Keep A Job

2011 October 7
by Randy H. Milgrom

          Politicians appear increasingly motivated only by what helps them to keep their jobs. Many run for office following often long and sometimes lucrative careers so money may not be a major motivator, but power‘s a known stimulant. Once you’ve been a U.S. Senator or Representative, it’s easy to find follow-on employment — often in the private sector, at many multiples of a civil servant’s salary (see, Newt Gingrich). And neither public shame nor outright disgrace — even for those going straight from federal office to federal prison — prohibits a gainful living. 

          But what about those of us in the private sector? Do we want merely to keep our jobs, or are we motivated by more? Most want to accomplish, not place-hold. But inertia — and the not uncommon need merely to feed a family — forces many to settle for less, and then to cling to that. We want to climb, and sometimes do, if only through sheer seniority. But showing up (with apologies to Woody Allen) is not just not enough — it’s out of fashion. Unless you’re a member of Congress.

          Holding firm — to long-held if not outdated positions — is rewarded by some voters, as is pandering, which is why both endure. Colleagues are prized not for their lawmaking but their head-counting or deal-making or power-brokering. But if you’re out of a job, perhaps your elected representative should be, too.

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