Skip to main content

The Secret Service As A Service

Because I'm a white guy in America, I'm going to weigh in on something over which I have no control and about which I have strong opinions, because Privilege. In this case, it's about the Secret Service.

A couple of important things to remember right off the bat: first, the Presidential Protection Detail is a very small part of the duties of the Secret Service; mostly, the SS is involved in counterfeiting and other types of currency fraud. Whether they should be or not isn't the question at hand; the truth is that the PPD is just the most public face of the Secret Service, and the one getting kneecapped in the press and in Congress right now. Second, the PPD includes both the guys in sunglasses and cheap suits you see and a bunch of uniformed guards you mostly don't. The Uniformed Division of the PPD is made up mostly of ex-cops, some of whom have served in other parts of the Secret Service, some of whom were hired on special. Thirdly, all of them are on government salary, which generally means they could go damn near literally anywhere elseand make more money for less hours. If they haven't, there's a good chance there's a reason why. For some (arguably, most), the answer is "a chance to serve the President and the Country", but there's a non-zero chance the answer could be "because no one else will hire me". 

So here's the thing: government payroll has been destroyed under the current administration. I'm not blaming President Obama; it's Congress that has the job of determining when and where to spend money, and they've done a fantastically bad job at it over the last six years or so (The 80th Congress, from '47 to '49, was called the 'do nothing' Congress and they passed 906 bills; the current 113th Congress has passed less than 200). Coupled with the fact that the current President has received three times the number of threats as any previous president, Democratic or Republican, it means that you have a staff that is underpaid, overworked, and with no relief in sight. The White House itself has had all sorts of work, including safety and security work, deferred for budgetary reasons since the middle of the Previous Administration, so basically everything there is 15 years out of date (at least) to begin with.

So: an old, unmaintained workplace; an underpaid, overworked, underappreciated, demoralized workforce; and no hope or expectation of improvement for at least two years.

It's a truism with me that any question that begins with "why" can always be answered with "money". If Congress is really unhappy with the performance of the Secret Service PPD in recent history, the answer isn't more hearings, it's more money. And not even a lot; for a couple hundred million a year the PPD could bring staffing levels back up to pre-shutdown levels, at least (which is the absolute bare minimum it should be; arguably the PPD for President Obama should be much, much bigger given the threat assessment load).  The PPD right now isn't lazy; it's exhausted

Oh, and if you're thinking of saying something stupid, like "this isn't about race" or "government is too expensive" I invite you to rethink posting here. Our current tax rate is fantastically low anddepressingly unequal, and complaining about high taxes and too much spending is just going to end up with blocks, uncircles, and hard feelings. Our Federal government isn't spending enough; it's also spending in all the wrong places, but that's a whole 'nother rant.

Anyway, that's one of the things I'm angry about this morning. There are others, trust me.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Money and Happiness as a fungible resource

Money really does buy happiness. Anyone who tells you differently has a vested interest in keeping you poor, unhappy, or both. I know this because I grew up on the ragged edge of poor, and then backed my way into a career in IT, which is where the modern world keeps all the money that isn't in Finance. So I am one of the extreme minority of Generation X that actually had an adulthood that was markedly more financially stable than my parents. And let me tell you: money really does buy happiness. To be clear: at 45 years old, I'm now in a relationship and a period of my life where our household is effectively double-income, no kids. I live in the city, but I own a house, and can only afford to do that because of our combined income. We also have two cars -- one new, one used (though neither of them is getting driven very much these days) -- and we have a small discretionary budget every month for things like videogames, books, and the like. What my brother used to call DAM -- Dic

Occasional Media Consumption: Man of Steel (2013)

Every so often, there's a movie where I watch it and think, "that was pretty bad", and then time goes by, and I see other people talking about it, and so I watch it again, thinking I was too harsh on it, and after watching it again, I think "not only was that movie bad, it was worse  than I remember". I try very hard not to hate-watch anything, movies or TV or whatever, because that's a waste of time, energy, and emotion. My expectation was that my first reading of this film was overblown, that my reaction to it was as an outsider, someone who didn't know the depth and breadth of the Clark Kent / Kal-El story, and who couldn't appreciate the subtleties or easter eggs or whatever. But in the intervening years, I've read a bunch of DC comics, and many of them Superman comics. And I've come to a conclusion upon rewatching this movie, one that surprised me given the budget, the cast, and the story being told. Rarely has any movie so misunderstood

Occasional Media Consumption: Justice League (2017)

So let's get this out of the way first: this movie is bad. I mean, it's bad . And not in the way that most superhero movies are bad, though it is bad in that way too: inconsistent characterizations, lack of understanding of motivations, weirdly-shot fight scenes, dodgy use of CG, etc. I mean, it is bad in all of these ways too, especially the whole thing where they digitally removed a mustache from Henry Cavill, who's honestly doing his best with a bad script and a character he's fundamentally unsuited to play. Gail Godot, in an iconic roll for her, suddenly shoved out of the way to make room for (also fundamentally-miscast) Ben Affleck's the Batman and Cavill's Superman, And Ray Fisher and Ezra Miller trying to introduce characters that honestly deserve their own movies. Jason Momoa's Aquaman got his own movie, but as far as I can tell he's just stepped into this one from a whole different universe and is basically pretending to live in the grim-n-gritt