IRS gave access to hundreds of contractors who failed background checks

Bodhisattva

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I regularly get IG reports on various government agencies. I relayed the audit that found the $47,000,000,000 of waste at the VA in FY22. Just got one today of interest. A review found that the IRS hired 300 nearly contractors, gave the contractor's access to personally identifiable information (PII) before a background check was done, let the contractors go when they failed the background check, but didn't revoke contractor access to the PII. Shockingly, tax information of thousands of Americans was leaked. Maybe don't give anyone access until they pass a background check? Maybe immediately revoke access of anyone separated from the IRS? Aren't these obvious safeguards? Why is government so consistently and damagingly incompetent? (Rhetorical question)
 

Jon

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I regularly get IG reports on various government agencies. I relayed the audit that found the $47,000,000,000 of waste at the VA in FY22. Just got one today of interest. A review found that the IRS hired 300 nearly contractors, gave the contractor's access to personally identifiable information (PII) before a background check was done, let the contractors go when they failed the background check, but didn't revoke contractor access to the PII. Shockingly, tax information of thousands of Americans was leaked. Maybe don't give anyone access until they pass a background check? Maybe immediately revoke access of anyone separated from the IRS? Aren't these obvious safeguards? Why is government so consistently and damagingly incompetent? (Rhetorical question)
because people are consistently and damigingly incompetent

target failed to secure points on their network and exposed everyone who has ever shopped at targets PII to hackers

Home Depot did the same

I had a customer with 50+ stores in the south that stored credit card info in a shared XL doc that anyone on their network had access to.

This isn't a government problem
 

Bodhisattva

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because people are consistently and damigingly incompetent

target failed to secure points on their network and exposed everyone who has ever shopped at targets PII to hackers

Home Depot did the same

I had a customer with 50+ stores in the south that stored credit card info in a shared XL doc that anyone on their network had access to.

This isn't a government problem
When I posted this, I wondered how many responses it would take for lefty to go with whataboutism. Two? Three? Nope. One. LOL!

So, yes, people (public and private sectors) tend to be incompetent with IT. Both sides? LOL! But, in your unexamined rush to whataboutism, you ignored some obvious distinctions.

One, if you would start a thread about a business making these errors, most people would rightly condemn the incompetence. I certainly wouldn't blow off business incompetence by saying, "It's ok because whatabout the government?"

Two, how do we know private incompetence is punished? Because investors flee from incompetent businesses. Stock prices get pounded. People get fired. Not so with the government. The IRS (and the government in general) only gets larger.

Three, this is not the same scenario. Your example is that of hackers. The Chinese, Russians, organized crime, etc. are always trying to hack into public and private IT systems. The IRS example is different. It's why I posted it. The IRS wasn't hacked from the outside. The IRS hired people they had no business hiring. The IRS gave them access to PII before doing a background check. The IRS didn't revoke access after background checks showed their contractors to be shady. Not once. 300 times.

Details matter.
 
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Jon

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When I posted this, I wondered how many responses it would take for lefty to go with whataboutism. Two? Three? Nope. One. LOL!

So, yes, people (public and private sectors) tend to be incompetent with IT. Both sides? LOL! But, in your unexamined rush to whataboutism, you ignored some obvious distinctions.

One, if you would start a thread about a business making these errors, most people would rightly condemn the incompetence. I certainly wouldn't blow off business incompetence by saying, "It's ok because whatabout the government?"

Two, how do we know private incompetence is punished? Because investors flee from incompetent businesses. Stock prices get pounded. People get fired. Not so with the government. The IRS (and the government in general) only gets larger.

Three, this is not the same scenario. Your example is that of hackers. The Chinese, Russians, organized crime, etc. are always trying to hack into public and private IT systems. The IRS example is different. It's why I posted it. The IRS wasn't hacked from the outside. The IRS hired people they had no business hiring. The IRS gave them access to PII before doing a background check. The IRS didn't revoke access after background checks showed their contractors to be shady. Not once. 300 times.

Details matter.
in my 30 year IT Career I've placed thousands of consultants in every aspect of business, government, you name it. None but governments and government contractors have asked for background checks. Only the feds and a few states had anything remotely close to stringent and even then typically only when involving intel and three letter agencies. I gave you hacking cause it was easy and public. Is government worse, sure I'll give you that but you are a fool if you think private industry is significantly better at any of this. Boeing has planes with pieces falling off, GM killed over a 100 people with faulty ignitions that they knew about and continued to sell.

I promise you because I've been involved in the process for close to three decades that every single large business you interact with has dozens to hundreds of contractors with access to your personal data that were less scrutinized than your IRS Employees.

I must say I do LOVE the irony that the only reason you even know about the IRS is because those pesky Government regulators (IG Office) caught it and made you aware.
 
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Bodhisattva

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in my 30 year IT Career I've placed thousands of consultants in every aspect of business, government, you name it. None but governments and government contractors have asked for background checks. Only the feds and a few states had anything remotely close to stringent and even then typically only when involving intel and three letter agencies. I gave you hacking cause it was easy and public. Is government worse, sure I'll give you that but you are a fool if you think private industry is significantly better at any of this. Boeing has planes with pieces falling off, GM killed over a 100 people with faulty ignitions that they knew about and continued to sell.

I promise you because I've been involved in the process for close to three decades that every single large business you interact with has dozens to hundreds of contractors with access to your personal data that were less scrutinized than your IRS Employees.

I must say I do LOVE the irony that the only reason you even know about the IRS is because those pesky Government regulators (IG Office) caught it and made you aware.
Well, that's interesting. All the IT guys I know in the private sector, including relatives and close friends, had to have background checks. And, I know plenty of government employees who I wonder how they ever passed their checks or kept their jobs. (I've heard so many, "I'm glad they didn't catch my DUIs/domestic violence/drug arrests/etc." that I've lost count.

You haven't worked in government. I have (as well as the private sector). The government says a lot of things that may sound good to those who want to believe it, but the reality of the performance is much different. Audits catch waste and stupidity all the time. (I'm glad you LOVE it.) I've been in many offices where the violations could fill up a three-ring binder. Is anything done about it? Nope. It's just another bureaucratic check-the-box activity. No one lifts a finger to change anything ... because they don't have to. There is no stock price to punish. There is no competitor who is allowed to do it better. People are rarely fired. (I've only seen it happen once in 15 years. And it was hardly a firing; the dude was allowed to retire with full benefits after a multi-year investigation, which was in reality a multi-year paid vacation before the retirement.)

Details matter.

But, anyway, feel free to start your own thread about the private sector. Where there are shortcomings I will agree with you. I don't understand why you go out of your way to make excuses for government incompetence. And I thought whataboutism was frowned upon by the lefties. Or, I guess it's like the Constitution or economics or whatever: it's cared about selectively.
 

Jon

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Well, that's interesting. All the IT guys I know in the private sector, including relatives and close friends, had to have background checks. And, I know plenty of government employees who I wonder how they ever passed their checks or kept their jobs. (I've heard so many, "I'm glad they didn't catch my DUIs/domestic violence/drug arrests/etc." that I've lost count.

You haven't worked in government. I have (as well as the private sector). The government says a lot of things that may sound good to those who want to believe it, but the reality of the performance is much different. Audits catch waste and stupidity all the time. (I'm glad you LOVE it.) I've been in many offices where the violations could fill up a three-ring binder. Is anything done about it? Nope. It's just another bureaucratic check-the-box activity. No one lifts a finger to change anything ... because they don't have to. There is no stock price to punish. There is no competitor who is allowed to do it better. People are rarely fired. (I've only seen it happen once in 15 years. And it was hardly a firing; the dude was allowed to retire with full benefits after a multi-year investigation, which was in reality a multi-year paid vacation before the retirement.)

Details matter.

But, anyway, feel free to start your own thread about the private sector. Where there are shortcomings I will agree with you. I don't understand why you go out of your way to make excuses for government incompetence. And I thought whataboutism was frowned upon by the lefties. Or, I guess it's like the Constitution or economics or whatever: it's cared about selectively.
Not excusing a thing. I used to share your opinions as you well know, but experience or heck lets says the details of what i've done for 30 years has lead to my original point above. This isn't a government thing, this is people. People are consistently and damigingly incompetent and all groups are made of them, Government and Private sector. These are not exclusive traits to one or the other.
 

Bodhisattva

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Not excusing a thing. I used to share your opinions as you well know, but experience or heck lets says the details of what i've done for 30 years has lead to my original point above. This isn't a government thing, this is people. People are consistently and damigingly incompetent and all groups are made of them, Government and Private sector. These are not exclusive traits to one or the other.
Well, I've already agreed that IT is problematic everywhere. But, as I've pointed out twice above, there are fundamental differences between the public and private sectors. It's not even in the same universe.
 

Bodhisattva

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Just checking to see if the number is a typo or if an audit actually found that 17% of the VA budget was waste...or maybe I misread? Did you mean 47 Billion, or a lesser number?
I may have a typo, but it is in the billions. That was a report I saw on the VA's service contracts. It did not mention if they did an audit that year on the VA's supply or construction contracts.

Service contracts are now the lion's share of government contracts. When I was in DC, in the relatively small offices where I worked, most of the staff (dozens of people) were contractors. Many of these guys did no work because they didn't know how to do the work. They were not properly vetted. But, I was not allowed to cancel the contract. And then I was forced to exercise the option on the contract for the next year. Millions of dollars of pure waste on one contract. And the federal government writes millions of contracts a year.

ETA: One program I worked tangentially with existed for more than 10 years. In the several years before I got there, the four years I was there, and for several years after I moved away from the area, the program accomplished nothing. It produced nothing. It was fully staffed with government and contractor personnel. It had very nice furnishings. They had catered lunches all the time. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars. And produced nothing. They were shut down about a year ago after the guy who ran the program retired. That's one small program among hundreds of thousands. I'm pretty confident in saying that's not the only one that wasted an obscene amount of money.
 
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Bodhisattva

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Goodness. I've explained this multiple times upthread, so I'm not sure whether you are really struggling with the subject matter or you're just trolling.

Anytime I relay an example (often firsthand) of government incompetence, as surely as the sun rises in the east, a lefty will respond with whataboutism. Such are the responses in this thread. The hilarious thing is that no lefty who rushes to defend or deflect has the experience working for the federal government to legitimately make such an argument. Jon has experience ... in the private sector. He does not know how things work in the public sector. His experience is not complete to be able to equivocate the two sectors. Yes, in many instances the private sector needs to get better with IT. Everyone knows this. As I wrote upthread, if Jon wants to start a thread on this subject, I would agree with him that things need to improve. I certainly would not respond with government whataboutism to try to defend/deflect on behalf of that business. That would be silly.

The scourge of hacking makes the news too often. But, as I've shown upthread, government performance is far worse. In the 10 or so years I worked for the government inside the Beltway, I was notified that my PII had been compromised at least five times. Many times the government did not discover that it had been hacked until years after the event. And my OP was not about hacking. It was about the government going out of its way to give shady characters access to tax records, even long after they were no longer under contract. This poor performance should not be surprising to anyone.

So, if you are not trolling, then re-read my posts upthread about the fundamental differences between the government and the private sector. Government cannot be as efficient, in its processes or its finances, as the private sector. (As was mentioned in another thread, NYC spends $2,000,000 on toilets!) A business that performs as poorly as the government ceases to exist very quickly. To try to claim that the shortcomings of a business and the government are equivalent is either a dishonest or clueless statement. Posters who persist with the silliness just keep demonstrating how much they don't know.
 
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jthomas666

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Goodness. I've explained this multiple times upthread, so I'm not sure whether you are really struggling with the subject matter or you're just trolling.

Anytime I relay an example (often firsthand) of government incompetence, as surely as the sun rises in the east, a lefty will respond with whataboutism. Such are the responses in this thread. The hilarious thing is that no lefty who rushes to defend or deflect has the experience working for the federal government to legitimately make such an argument. Jon has experience ... in the private sector. He does not know how things work in the public sector. His experience is not complete to be able to equivocate the two sectors. Yes, in many instances the private sector needs to get better with IT. Everyone knows this. As I wrote upthread, if Jon wants to start a thread on this subject, I would agree with him that things need to improve. I certainly would not respond with government whataboutism to try to defend/deflect on behalf of that business. That would be silly.

The scourge of hacking makes the news too often. But, as I've shown upthread, government performance is far worse. In the 10 or so years I worked for the government inside the Beltway, I was notified that my PII had been compromised at least five times. Many times the government did not discover that it had been hacked until years after the event. And my OP was not about hacking. It was about the government going out of its way to give shady characters access to tax records, even long after they were no longer under contract. This poor performance should not be surprising to anyone.

So, if you are not trolling, then re-read my posts upthread about the fundamental differences between the government and the private sector. Government cannot be as efficient, in its processes or its finances, as the private sector. (As was mentioned in another thread, NYC spends $2,000,000 on toilets!) A business that performs as poorly as the government ceases to exist very quickly. To try to claim that the shortcomings of a business and the government are equivalent is either a dishonest or clueless statement. Posters who persist with the silliness just keep demonstrating how much they don't know.
I've read your posts: Government, bad, mkay? We get it: you don't like government. Jon's observation was perfectly legitimate--there are going to be certain similarities in the problems with both government and business because both are operated by flawed humans. That statement seems to threaten you; I'm not sure why.

You also seem to believe that only someone with experience in both the public and private sectors can effectively comment on both. Well, I have worked in both the public and private sector. I have seen gross stupidity on both sides, and I've seen solid management on both sides.

Let's say for the purposes of argument that government cannot be as efficient as business. So what? Business has a singular purpose--profit. Government has a more nebulous purpose, so it seems silly to criticize government for not being something that it was never intended to be.

Now, if you want to rag on the government because of how it fulfills (or doesn't fulfill) its purpose, have at it.

Oh, for future reference, if I want to troll you, I make a snide comment about Invisible Hand jobs. 😁
 

Bodhisattva

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I've read your posts: Government, bad, mkay? We get it: you don't like government. Jon's observation was perfectly legitimate--there are going to be certain similarities in the problems with both government and business because both are operated by flawed humans. That statement seems to threaten you; I'm not sure why.

You also seem to believe that only someone with experience in both the public and private sectors can effectively comment on both. Well, I have worked in both the public and private sector. I have seen gross stupidity on both sides, and I've seen solid management on both sides.

Let's say for the purposes of argument that government cannot be as efficient as business. So what? Business has a singular purpose--profit. Government has a more nebulous purpose, so it seems silly to criticize government for not being something that it was never intended to be.

Now, if you want to rag on the government because of how it fulfills (or doesn't fulfill) its purpose, have at it.
Well, we are going to just have to agree to disagree about the nature of the private and public sectors.

Oh, for future reference, if I want to troll you, I make a snide comment about Invisible Hand jobs. 😁
LOL! I'll take one of those any day over the daily dry rectal exam from Uncle Sam and his calloused knuckles. :oops:
 

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I have never worked in the public sector, but I, too, have over 30 years in IT in the private sector. I've worked in multiple insurance, background check, and healthcare software companies. Every IT person I know of for at least the last 25 years has had to have a background check for any job they applied for in the private sector that could potentially process or store sensitive data. If you handle PHI, PII, or financial data as a private sector firm you are generally required to acquire and maintain relevant certifications or attestations depending on the nature of the data (at least if you want to have clients).

I'm familiar with SOC2, HITRUST, and PCI and all require background checks before an employee is granted access to sensitive data and require immediate removal of access upon termination. Failure to do so can have serious financial consequences for the company. They also ensure you have proper controls in place and are utilized properly and consistently.

This doesn't mean mistakes or breaches can't happen, but there is a standard that must be adhered to that is verified by certified third parties. From the sounds of what Bodhi is saying, there are little to no consequences in the public sector for failure to maintain standards while there are in the private sector.
 

Bodhisattva

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I have never worked in the public sector, but I, too, have over 30 years in IT in the private sector. I've worked in multiple insurance, background check, and healthcare software companies. Every IT person I know of for at least the last 25 years has had to have a background check for any job they applied for in the private sector that could potentially process or store sensitive data. If you handle PHI, PII, or financial data as a private sector firm you are generally required to acquire and maintain relevant certifications or attestations depending on the nature of the data (at least if you want to have clients).

I'm familiar with SOC2, HITRUST, and PCI and all require background checks before an employee is granted access to sensitive data and require immediate removal of access upon termination. Failure to do so can have serious financial consequences for the company. They also ensure you have proper controls in place and are utilized properly and consistently.

This doesn't mean mistakes or breaches can't happen, but there is a standard that must be adhered to that is verified by certified third parties. From the sounds of what Bodhi is saying, there are little to no consequences in the public sector for failure to maintain standards while there are in the private sector.
Yeah, trying to claim that the private and public sectors are the same because people work in both is glossing over the fundamental differences. That people work in both sectors is not really a revelation. Yes, people are involved (not chimps or dolphins) and people do make mistakes or just outright suck.

But, while the incentive in the private sector is to have less errors and incompetence; there is not that resolve in the public sector. Government is not subjected to the market forces that make business become more efficient (or cease to exist). It is rare to be able to fire a bad employee. The Rube Goldberg Machine of government bureaucracy just keeps expanding - becoming more inefficient and more expensive to maintain.

It would be nice if some people would stop defending the indefensible and just acknowledge the obvious. One doesn't have to have my experience in the public sector to see how poorly the government performs. You just have to look around.
 
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CrimsonJazz

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Yeah, trying to claim that the private and public sectors are the same because people work in both is glossing over the fundamental differences. That people work in both sectors is not really a revelation. Yes, people are involved (not chimps or dolphins) and people do make mistakes or just outright suck.

But, while the incentive in the private sector is to have less errors and incompetence; there is not that resolve in the public sector. Government is not subjected to the market forces that make business become more efficient (or cease to exist). It is rare to be able to fire a bad employee. The Rube Goldberg Machine of government bureaucracy just keeps expanding - becoming more inefficient and more expensive to maintain.

It would be nice if some people would stop defending the indefensible and just acknowledge the obvious. One doesn't have to have my experience in the public sector to see how poorly the government performs. You just have to look around.
One reason for the chasm between government incompetence and the private sector incompetence has been the whittling away of meritocracy within government hiring practices verses how corporations choose to do it. Yes, ESG, DEI and other mind-viruses are infecting the corporate culture, but it has nothing on how serious the problem has gotten in the public sector.

The concept of meritocracy used to be one of the most liberal ideals we had in our public discourse, but somewhere along the way, the activist demo has somehow convinced the liberals to accept illiberal horsecrap by making damn near everything an identity issue. Now we're trying to paper over society's ills with hiring practices that often do not lead to the best outcomes. Sure, it can make people feel better in the short-term, but sooner or later it hits the wall and we are seeing it now. I can think of nothing the government can do that the private sector can't do better.
 

NationalTitles18

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One reason for the chasm between government incompetence and the private sector incompetence has been the whittling away of meritocracy within government hiring practices verses how corporations choose to do it.
Any evidence this is happening other than the stump speeches of politicians?

Yes, ESG, DEI and other mind-viruses are infecting the corporate culture, but it has nothing on how serious the problem has gotten in the public sector.
I wasn't aware that diversity, equity, and inclusion were in direct opposition to merit or that there was a magical time in the past before anti-discrimination programs when black people and other minorities were hired across the board on merit instead of excluded - to the detriment of individuals, communities, and the public at large (and the programs that would have benefitted from their talents).

The concept of meritocracy used to be one of the most liberal ideals we had in our public discourse, but somewhere along the way, the activist demo has somehow convinced the liberals to accept illiberal horsecrap by making damn near everything an identity issue.
Another baseless claim suited for a stump speech but not serious discourse.

Now we're trying to paper over society's ills with hiring practices that often do not lead to the best outcomes. Sure, it can make people feel better in the short-term, but sooner or later it hits the wall and we are seeing it now.
Specifically and in detail, where are we seeing it? I'd love to see the evidence of this happening beyond the claims of charlatans.

I can think of nothing the government can do that the private sector can't do better.
Nothing at all?

That is a broad swath that includes everything from national defense to basic public services like police and fire to basic safety regulations to the judicial system and all its components.

Maybe you didn't quit mean that.
 
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Bodhisattva

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One reason for the chasm between government incompetence and the private sector incompetence has been the whittling away of meritocracy within government hiring practices verses how corporations choose to do it. Yes, ESG, DEI and other mind-viruses are infecting the corporate culture, but it has nothing on how serious the problem has gotten in the public sector.

The concept of meritocracy used to be one of the most liberal ideals we had in our public discourse, but somewhere along the way, the activist demo has somehow convinced the liberals to accept illiberal horsecrap by making damn near everything an identity issue. Now we're trying to paper over society's ills with hiring practices that often do not lead to the best outcomes. Sure, it can make people feel better in the short-term, but sooner or later it hits the wall and we are seeing it now. I can think of nothing the government can do that the private sector can't do better.
I can't speak specifically to ESG, DEI, etc., but you are correct that meritocracy tends to be of secondary consideration. One moves up the pay scale based on time in service. And since one doesn't get fired, you'll climb the ladder just by existing. It's particularly bad in DC. From personal experience, most of the time, to get a promotion within your organization you have to be part of a "special project" or be selected to attend a series of conferences. Only certain minorities were allowed to take part, and therefore be eligible for the follow-on promotions. Seriously, these people hardly did anything but attend attend conferences, road shows, etc.

I have been told similar non-meritorious things regarding military promotions. Say there are 50 slots for promotion to sergeant. Rankings will be posted, but instead of taking the 50 best, a certain number of slots will be set aside for non-Asian minorities. So, to fill the quota, one can get the promotion and be way lower than 50th-best and bump a white guy who is in the top 50.

Same thing with affirmative action and hiring preferences. Everyone knows that certain minorities can have lower scores and still get in to top schools. Not supposed to be able to do that anymore, but I'm sure there are workarounds to select by quota instead of merit.

Same thing with hiring preferences in some industries or being selected for some government contracts.

Also regarding hiring practices inside the Beltway, I've talked about witnessing nepotism at a shocking level. (I've worked in the private sector where plenty of the top guy's relatives worked there, but I can't say that these people were incompetent. The younger generation were all part of the family business that later merged with a larger company, so they knew what they were doing.) I've seen several occasions of someone from on high in the government created an entire office staffed by their idiot kid and their idiot kid's friends. A bunch of six-figure-do-nothing-substantive jobs that are billed to the taxpayer. These arrangements would make the mafia jealous.
 
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mdb-tpet

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It's well known and documented for closing in on 200 or so years in this country, the "white guy" ALWAYS got the best job, and no person of color or woman was allowed to get that job. And now we're still trying to figure out on the whole as a country how to allow the best person to get those jobs. Certainly, there will be a myriad of instances where the best person does not get the job because we're trying to be more equitable in all aspects of our hiring, but there has to be some way to avoid the obvious bias in networks, friends, nepotism, schools, backgrounds, and education that have come from centuries of bias, segregation, unequal resource distribution and the like. Government jobs were the ONLY place many minorities could get good jobs for decades due to blatant racism, and that is one of the secret fetid undercurrents of the "smaller government" crowd that is rarely spoken aloud.

There's nothing inherently wrong with government jobs, and there will always be waste. We should point out and try to eliminate waste whenever possible and smart. But large corporations with board rooms upper management that all look alike, making dozens to hundreds of times more than anyone else in their companies are the epitome of inequality and waste to me.
 

Bodhisattva

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It's well known and documented for closing in on 200 or so years in this country, the "white guy" ALWAYS got the best job, and no person of color or woman was allowed to get that job. And now we're still trying to figure out on the whole as a country how to allow the best person to get those jobs. Certainly, there will be a myriad of instances where the best person does not get the job because we're trying to be more equitable in all aspects of our hiring, but there has to be some way to avoid the obvious bias in networks, friends, nepotism, schools, backgrounds, and education that have come from centuries of bias, segregation, unequal resource distribution and the like. Government jobs were the ONLY place many minorities could get good jobs for decades due to blatant racism, and that is one of the secret fetid undercurrents of the "smaller government" crowd that is rarely spoken aloud.

There's nothing inherently wrong with government jobs, and there will always be waste. We should point out and try to eliminate waste whenever possible and smart. But large corporations with board rooms upper management that all look alike, making dozens to hundreds of times more than anyone else in their companies are the epitome of inequality and waste to me.
And yet East and South Asians are doing better than anyone.

My preference for smaller government is rooted in the Constitution, sane economics, an understanding of how markets work and government doesn't, and the belief that there is no reason to have to pay for so much public sector stupidity.

I'm not jealous of what some guy in the private sector makes.
 
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