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My Government Job Is Ruining My Life

I hate my job in state government. When people complain about the government they tend to focus on the legislature (state or Congress) and the chief executive (governor or President). People in those positions may do stupid things and are more visible but its the complete morons in the rest of the executive branch that are responsible for the fact that government is an inefficient mess.

The pay is horrible and no amount of effort will get you a raise.  Everyone gets the same thing whether they work or sit on their *** all day.  And the raises are miniscue, 1-3% and not even every year.  Raises for managers have been frozen since 2008 so I have gotten nothing. This is despite the fact that I am doing multiple jobs.

95% of the people are idiots and incredibily lazy.  Most don't even understand the purpose of their jobs or the program they are supporting.  This goes for low level secretaries and upper management.  I used to work with brilliant people I admired.  Now I work with C- students who have chosen jobs where effort is unimportant and they are safe from accountability and being fired for poor, or no, performance.  I even blame our pension system.  People that will work for less money all their lives just so they won't be fired and don't have to be intelligent enough to manage a 401K are hiding - hiding from work and accomplishment.

I'm so depressed.  There are days when I wake up and cry.  I'm being treated for depression and call off sick more and more.  I keep working hard though I know I'm becoming less and less motivated.  Its killing me that I'm not living up to my potential.  I was going to do so much more with my life but things got screwed up.  I took this job because I needed one and now its been over five years, the economy is in bad shape, and I don't feel I've gained any skills to make myself any more marketable for something different.  I want to go to school to get my Master's but I can't afford it and I'm in such bad shape I know I wouldn't do well now. 

I deserve more.  The few people that recognize that but say their hands are tied, there's no way to pay me.  It's against the rules - pay is limited.  I am out peforming people that have been in their ******* jobs longer than I have been alive!  Its 2 AM and I can't sleep.  Tomorrow morning is going to be hell.  I'm likely to call off - again.  Work has always been so important to me and now I hate my life.  And bills and debt have me stuck.  When I can't earn more what do I do?  Wait to win the lottery?  :(

UPDATE

It's now nearly two years later and guess what...I still work with the same morons!  Well, not all the same.  Some have retired so now they don't even have to be in the building in order for the state to pay them money.  But good people have also left.  We can't seem to retain anyone under 30.  Two recent college grads who had yet to be ruined by the zombie apocalypse that is my state's government left within a month of each other because....they weren't being given enough work!!!  They wanted to learn things and do something useful and apparently no one supported them so they left.  And the managers in their area constantly ***** that they are understaffed because so many positions have been vacated (more often due to retirements or transfers than resignations).  The positions are then "frozen" so they can't be filled.  When the place doesn't implode after so many months of a job being left unfilled then the job is eliminated.  That's asinine and since it happened in that area so many times I assumed they really WERE understaffed.  Apparently that's not the case.  I know there are projects that were never started after major money was invested in them, supposedly due to lack of people.  Well when two people ask for things to do and aren't assigned any work I guess that means the area is OVERSTAFFED!  

I'm back in school getting my Master's in public administration.  I may not stay in government (at least not in the ****** up one I'm currently in) but I find the classes interesting and they have helped me with work.  I even wrote a long paper on how things where I work suck and how to fix them.  I didn't include incite angry mobs to beat lazy employees and crooked politicians/political appointees to death with sticks - but I should have.  I'll probably do an MBA as well since I'm not getting everything I want out of the current program.  But I wouldn't get everything I wanted out of just an MBA either.  Even after years of witnessing colossal stupidity everyday I'm still not anti-government, just anti-stupid.  Maybe I'll end up moving back and forth between the public and private sectors.  My desire for a PhD and faculty position in my original field of study is waining somewhat.  I'd have to go to school full-time and even if by magic I could start tomorrow I'd be a bit old to be competing for a position.  And all those "young investigator awards" new assistant professors get...."He's 40 why is he applying for this?".  I'm trying to plot out a future where I'm not spending may days untying knots and listening to politicians tell me I will go another year without a raise while they and unionized employees get them.  Ideally my state would be thrown out of the United States.  I think I could have some fun then.  I won't take on the federal government but I'm pretty sure I could beat the people running this state if all they had to backup their laws were themselves.  

Sorry that wasn't all that entertaining.  Maybe I'll do another update with more stories from work that are actually funny.
1astmi1e 1astmi1e 31-35 7 Responses Jan 20, 2011

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I think we have the same life. When I was reading your post I was thinking the whole time "Thank god it's not just me that feels this way!" I work in county government and I feel like my life is slowly slipping away. I'm surrounded by people who waste a full day on one assignment and I can hardly blame them because there's no motivation to do much more than that. There's no hope for raises so why waste the energy. I only have two years in, and I dread going into work everyday. I don't want to do this for the next 23 years, but everyone I talk to says I'm crazy for wanting to leave a cushy government job. I can feel my soul dying inside everyday I stay with it. I guess it's a lose lose.

hey everybody, 15 years working for the Fed. Gov. Im surrounded by wasted funds useless everchanging overbearing rules and checklists, and backstabbing rednecks with no passion for my agencies mission. (its a big land management agency)<br />
The US GOV is broken and its a mess. and knowing it from the inside is a total nightmare. <br />
Ive become so depressed about my country and its communities that Ive decided to erase all my debt and leave the country for good. theres no amount of money or things that make a life spent chasing a retirement carrot I wont recieve worth my sacrifice. I committed most of my weekends, all my summers all my free time for a lousy paycheck and weak minded supervisors who take out there aggressions on their employees. the american people have soured. We together used to be the government, but greed made us all ugly. No thanks, nothing here for me anymore- peace and good luck folks.

Amen !!!!!!

Sounds like me. If you want to talk let me know. I am a vocational rehabilitation counselor. I have a masters in rehabilitation / community counseling -- I love the field of counseling and rehabilitation - but - I hate my job - my training is in counseling and the current job is 90% paper and computer work, meeting state/federal guidlines, and goals, and 10% counseling. I work for a state level agency and the work load and pressure was so great that I had mental and physical symptoms to the point where I had to take a medical leave - I'm 40, been on leave 6 months, living with my parents temporarily, and have extended the leave another 6 months. I have a CRC (certified rehab counselor) certification - and also took extra courses for mental health counseling in grad school - but to actually be a mental health counselor I need 3000 hours of supervised work experience in mental health - The state office refused to sign of on supervision hours for that. And the only upward mobility is supervisor which is one hell of a nightmare job there. Any other rehab counseling jobs will pay less and I am not interested in any of them, and the federal government would pay more but has zero positions open. I still have the opportunity to go back to my job when I am ready and have medical clearance to do so, but I'm considering other jobs or going for a PhD (but it would need to be a totally grant covered program) as I still have a huge loan from my masters. People say, well you have a good job, benefits, retirement plan.... but what if you hate what you are doing? Is life meant to be that way? I don' think so. I'd be happy to talk with you more about your situation.

@tattlebag -<br />
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I say the whole problem is the lack of raises ba<x>sed on performance. Not only does it eliminate motivation to accomplish anything, its also frustrating to see people that do nothing rewarded. A coworker put it nicely when she said some people come to work solely for the entertainment value of gossiping and causing trouble full time. That and the fact that starting pay doesn't take qualifications into account at all. As long as you meet the minimum they don't care about advanced degrees, past experience, or the fact that you can both tie your shoes AND read!<br />
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I've been in my job just a bit longer than you. I don't get snickers at accomplishments but the whole process of getting things - most anything - done is ridiculous. First you start with people that are afraid of change, even stupid minor things, and afraid of the work they think it might require. <br />
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Then you have people that get angry that you tell them they way they've done things for years is actually NOT working even though they things its fine - that its actually so bad its embarrassing. <br />
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Surprisingly changing things is not as much as a bureaucratic mess as you might expect. It might be a long process with multiple people that have to approve things but its doesn't necessarily require much work. But people use that as an excuse - why start its going to take so long? Well if you'd start it would at least get done at some point! <br />
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But that's not always true. Sometimes you have to spend ridiculous amounts of time justifying things to people who shouldn't be making decisions anyway. And what usually wastes the most amount of time - things involving human resources. I can't even start on that mess and how people 4 pay grades lower have to be told how your programs operate so they can decide what jobs are created and who you can hire.<br />
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And now when things do get done I'm realizing more and more that I have a sense of accomplishment after doing something that people in private industry would see as absolutely trivial. Farming out work to private companies has its own issues, but I've worked with contractors that have been extremely beneficial and productive. The state employees basically view them as gods. They just CANNOT believe that one person could get SO MUCH done so fast! Of course they cost twice as much as a state employee.<br />
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I've actually thought of creating a website where people can post about their experiences in state government. I haven't actually given any details about my work, but actual stories would make things much more interesting.<br />
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I'm sending you a message in case you have anything you want to share or would like to hear some of my horror stories. It'd be interesting to see how similar thing are in, presumably, different states.<br />
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I don't think I can post a link on here, but go to YouTube and search for "Lewis Black government". At least right now its the first hit. Near the middle of the video a member of the audience makes reference to general government incompetence. Lewis is one of my favorite comedians, famous for his angry rants. He rightly lets this guy having it, ending with "If we are the greatest country on Earth, maybe we can have the greatest government."

Your post is something I think I may have written -- I too am a stater hater... It's frustrating to work in an environment where you want to do better and feel limited. I have been working for the state for 5 years - my colleagues would snicker when I was excited about an accomplishment. I would ask why and they would respond "just give it 5 years." Well I thought I could never become lazy, frustrated, and unmotivated but I'm beginning to feel that the energy exherted to get the simplest task done far outweighs the benefits, not just to the organization but now to me. I feel exhausted all of the time and frustrated with the system. Starting over is not the best option - I would like to retire one day and I started with the government late. Working in private industry where people are motivated by each other to achieve and serve their customers/clients because they need them to get paid sets a certain tone. When the government is handed the taxpayers money to run an organization something happens. There is no competitive spirit so productivity is lost. People sleep, steal, give up, get depressed, etc. There is no performance motivator. I so wish the government gave raises ba<x>sed on performance... The bureacracy makes it so difficult to fire people that laziness wins and the motivated become exhausted.

Sigh. I do this all the time. Write on the Internet thinking it will help with my frustration or somehow someone will help solve my problem. It doesn't help. I do enjoy fixing the endless number of things that are ****** up at my job. Making the place something to be proud of rather than disgusted with might be enough to satisfy my needs for a career. But not if there is no financial motivation at all. <br />
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I have the solution to so much of what is wrong with government - most of what is wrong. Attract good people and reward performance. Why can no one see this? The problem is even if its recognized everything takes forever to happen because ideas are executed by idiots. You can't replace the idiots until you change the system and they'll fight change every step of the way then move like a glacier on changes they have to make.<br />
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I will say the federal government seems better about this and most federal workers I have met are far better than their counterparts in our state.

i know what you mean - thinking that voicing your problems by sharing them in a blog...it does nothing. are you jumping ship? the ONLY thing that keeps me at my city government job is the hours. i rarely work over 40/week. i finally had no excuse to enroll in a graduate degree program. just another 1 1/2 years, maybe 2 yrs, then my resume is flying like a flag.
i hope things get better at your state job. i am older than you, by the way. i am disappointed in this job primarily because a lot of the people are whiners and difficult to work with because they dont want to undertake as little responsibility as possible.