Blame the Bureaucrats

It’s a shame that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has been forced out because of the shabby way American veterans are treated. The VA has been a mess for years – for decades probably. But now that the whistleblowers have called attention to the long waiting lists and bogus record keeping, someone has to take the fall.

And that someone is, sadly, a military hero who was severely wounded in his country’s service, and who seemed to be giving an impossible job his best shot.

Anyone who has had anything to do with a government service can probably figure out who the bad guys are. They’re the bureaucrats.

I’m not saying all bureaucrats are lousy. Some do a great job and treat the public with respect. But far too many let the smidgen of authority they have go to their heads. They adopt a haughty and unhelpful manner that makes the public mad.

And far too many public employees use their positions to feather their own nests.

I worked for an Ontario government agency twice – first at TV Ontario and next at Harbourfront – and I was shocked at the way some government employees abused their positions.

Not everybody of course. I had some exceptionally talented and conscientious colleagues. But I also had to contend with some colleagues who were intent on keeping their jobs and furthering their careers, not on giving the taxpayer a fair deal.

I suppose it’s only human nature to take advantage, to put your own job security ahead of everything else, to exploit the perks that come with your position. But there’s no reason for civil servants to be protected when they are caught committing the kind of abuses being uncovered at the VA.

I concede that the VA’s problems are due in part to the mean spirited way in which Congress squeezes funding for veterans. But that does not excuse the fraud and forgery being exposed at the VA.

Instead of forcing General Shinseki to resign, the politicians should have targeted the real offenders.

I understand some senior VA employees are being fired. But Congress should go farther. There should be a wholesale housecleaning at the agency to set an example for other government employees who are tempted to abuse their positions.

Click for more on the VA scandal.

Click for an analysis of the problem.