Morning Poll: Do You Work for the Government?

by ARLnow.com October 2, 2012 at 10:05 am 4,996 129 Comments

Last week, an opinion piece in Bloomberg View theorized that the Washington area is boring and un-hip “because it’s full of people who work for and around the government.”

Undoubtedly, there are lots of people in the area, and in Arlington in particular, who work for or around the government. And employment estimates bear that out. But does that really tell the full story?

Putting aside whether we’re collectively boring, let’s find out just how many of us are directly connected to the government.

  • Good Grief

    Way to exclude Non-Profits…

    • Willowy

      … and people who work multiple jobs.

    • SoArl

      Yeah, I had to put “Lobbying” because it was the closest thing to what I do… *shudder*

    • Glebe Roader

      How about the “other” category?

    • Walker

      This about people who do real work.

  • LGRooney

    Boring and unhip is exactly the way government should be run. Most of the feds I know, and with whom I work, are quiet, competent, and straight-laced people who just want to get the job done well. Of course, Bloomberg’s “boring and unhip” comment feeds the Masters’ of the Universe impression of themselves vs. the drudging bureaucrats. In the end, the MotUs should be thankful for the drudgery performed by government workers and contractors (who should be feds in most cases, anyway) because it keeps the teat, at which they continuously suck despite their rhetoric, working.

    • CrystalMikey

      Well said.

    • Big Spender

      Those feds (speaking from experience here) maybe quiet and competent, but they are working for a machine full of circular logic, red tape and waste. Its a serious waste of resources that once realized by the people working there, just turn into veggies. Hence the “boring” label that has some validity unfortunately.

      • dk (not DK)

        Yes, and goodness knows there is no circular logic, red tape, or waste in the private sector. ~eyeroll~

        • Big Spender

          Relatively speaking compared to gov’t, no way its even close

          • Arlanon

            Totally bull***t, but thanks for your opinion Big Spender…

          • Big Spender

            Being rewarded for mediocrity (ie. mandatory pay increases) and ignored for good performance because it skews the baseline, that’s bul***t, but it happens everyday in fed life, in all the branches of government that I have been a part of. Its the status quo and the main reason why that machine grows and grows and will never shrink.. I could seriously write a book about it.

        • Smithers

          Yes, you are correct. It’s much easier to funnel money out the sides through bonuses and absurd expenditures (C level getaways, lavish travel, etc.) without the pesky risk of being caught by the actual producers of said company because it’s ‘private’.

    • dk (not DK)

      Thank you LGRooney. My sentiments exactly.

  • LGRooney

    And, I should add, that says nothing of who we are outside of our jobs.

  • Tre

    Well if one person wrote it, it must be true.

    • Smithers

      On Fox News, that’s called a fact.

  • Chris

    To say that all government workers are “unhip and boring” ties back into the broad generalization that all government employees are mindless bureaucrats whose only interest is their Federal paycheck. Given the area we live in, and the broad range of positions available in every facet of government, you are bound to have SO many different types of people who can call themselves government employees. On the one hand, I am a full-time program analyst for the Federal Government, and I take my job seriously. But on the other hand, I have a studio in my basement for recording loud old 70’s style punk rock, an extra fridge for curing bacon, a space in my garage for brewing beer, and am routinely going out to see rocknroll bands (whether it be weeknight or weekend). Boring people are boring people. People with actual interests are exciting. It has nothing to do with being a government worker.

    • Ballston

      Anyone who says “rocknroll bands” is clearly over 65 and therefore inherently unhip.

      • GodFila

        Well stated from your Mom’s basement

      • Chris

        Actually I’m 28 and an Arlington homeowner, thanks.

        • Tabs

          “rocknroll bands” is a hugely nerdy thing to say/write.

          • Chris

            Who gives a s—? Your definition of nerdy aside, my point still stands. Plenty of govt workers, myself included, going to see bands play on a weekly basis at black cat backstage, rocknroll hotel, red palace, comet ping pong, house shows in way upper nw, etc. This is a new generation of people working for the govt, not just 65 year old budget analysts who wake up, go to work, go home, eat a lean cuisine, and repeat ’til death.

          • Smithers

            No need to feel defensive dude, everyone knows that bloomberg article is a crock of poo poo.

            So are all the ‘top (insert category here)’ lists for that matter.

        • jackson

          My condolences on the passing of Andy Williams.


        • drax

          I think he was responding to Ballston, not you, Chris.


        Listen to this guy. Mr Ballston, he can help everyone be hip. But, then again I have a feeling Mr Ballson is “inherently unhip” for using the word “HIP”

        • drax

          Anyone who lives in Ballston is inherently unhip.

        • Ballston

          You got me 🙁

  • Tabs

    A lot of us work for consulting firms (or our friends, the non-profits) that do most of their work through government agencies. That’s a missing category, because ‘government contractor’ means an individual who works in a gov agency but isn’t a Fed.

    • CW

      No it doesn’t…how does the government pay your consulting firm? Not with a contract? Really?

      • Tabs

        I don’t care, but from experience, a lot of people get confused if I say I work FOR a government contractor.

        • CW

          I feel like there is a level of semantics here whose significance is being lost upon me. You work for a consulting firm which receives money from the government by way of contract vehicles. That makes you a government contractor.

  • GMo

    I feel like Non-Profit/Non Lobbying Associations should be an option. We’ve got a lot of those around here!!

    • JamesE

      What about non-profit research and development and people have no idea what you are talking about so you just tell them “Government contractor”

    • Good suggestion. We’ve added non-profits and associations.

      • malaka

        are they hip?

  • gmfbcc

    More than 50% of the people here work for the government or a government contractor. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am.

    • b0rk

      Why do you think the DC area was relatively unscathed during the recession? Why do you think housing values are back close to 2008 values? The Fed’s money machine keeps on a-turnin’.

      • Control The Presses

        “The Fed’s money machine keeps on a-turnin’”

        It is what happens when you control the printing presses….

  • I would just point out…

    Pretty much everyone in most of those fields is if not receiving their salary from the government, receiving it from a business who owes its existence to the government.

    Getting rid of the straightforward ones, this town is lawyered up to the hilt as a result of the government, media presence is what it is here because the government is here, and “tech sector” in this area is just another word for spook. Do you know anyone in the tech sector without a clearance? I don’t.

    Education is heavily government, though to be fair present everywhere (K-12 and public colleges).

    And even private sector businesses are only here to the extent they are because they’re serving government employees.

    At the end of the day, if the nation’s capital hadn’t been dropped at this particular spot on the Potomac River, this would be the greater Alexandria metropolitan area (or maybe the greater Georgetown metropolitan area), and would probably be much more comparable in size to a Charleston or Savannah (ie 500-600k in the entire metro) if that, rather than the 6 million or so we actually have.

    • dk (not DK)


  • DCBuff

    Bloomberg piece must have been written by a teenager. My kid thinks I’m boring and unhip, and it has nada to do with my job.

  • Guy LeDouche

    For those of you working in a job that is paid for with my tax dollars…stop putzing around on ArlNow and get back to work! Slackers.

    • HughJassPhD


    • Your Boss

      Take your own advice, Guy.

      • Guy LeDouche

        Ah, but so wrong are you because nobody is the boss of me, as I am my own boss. So go back to being a slave to the man.

        • drax

          Oh, in that case, go back to making $15k a year from your basement.

    • Smithers

      I regularly work over 40 hours.


      • Smithers

        *you’re…. dammit!

        • Guy LeDouche

          And obviously spending any amount of time on working on your mastery of the english language is not part of how you spend your over 40 hours each week. Continue with your day Smithers as I retreat to my cavernous office. Excellent.

          And btw, good for you for regularly working over 40 hours per week and joining a large chunk of the rest of the working population that does the same thing and not on the taxpayer dime…so I wouldn’t be too proud about that.

          • drax

            So your post consists of bashing him for a minor mistake that he already acknowledged, and then denigrating him for working for the public because, for some reason, that’s not as good as the private sector.


            And “English” is capitalized.

          • Smithers

            I am not an english major. I am a statistics/math guy.

            I am proud of what I do because it helps my Country be more efficient and cost effective and save taxpayer money.

            I am proud that I do more that what is asked of me.

            I am proud that I am worth every penny of the taxpayer’s money (of which I contribute as well).

            You could not have picked a better name for yourself. Plus I’m grateful you work at home. There are enough pompus sphincter-holes out and about as it is.

          • drax

            Thanks for your service, Smithers. Ignore the douches.

  • internet tourettes

    I used to work in investment banking and commodities trading and living in New York is entaintaining and you can meet people with a variety of back grounds and view points with out some one having a hissy fit. Likewise, success in banking is based on risk and going against the status quo which is the reason why our financial system collapsed. I appreciate that the government is conservative in its approach to serving the nation but I do wish that Arlington was a bit more interesting. It’s ironic that living in the capital of the most powerful nation in the history of the world is rather bland and boring.

    FWIW techinically I’m in education but I’m not at a college or university.

    • Occupy This

      success in banking is based on risk

      It also helps to have the (boring) government provide you with a backstop when those risks go bad.

      • internet tourettes

        You are preaching to the choir on that one and that’s why I’m here as opposed to back in New York working a trading desk.

        The biggest problem with the US economic system is that it’s capitalism for the poor and small business and socialism for the large corporations and the rich.

        The bankers responsible for both the 08 housing crash and tech bubble should be in jail now but instead people want to elect a LBO specialist as president.

        • jackson

          Bingo! Well said.

          • Sherriff Gonna Getcha

            wait it was the bankers that forced people to buy houses they couldnt afford? Ahhhhhhh, I see now. I just thought everyone wanted to keep up with the Jones. Silly me. The bankers came in and made people do it.

          • jackson

            Bankers are guilty of so much more than giving bad loans. The level of deceit and manipulation of the stock market and the economy is going to be felt for years.

            Someone shoplifts and goes to jail. A financial institution knowingly gives bad advice to investors and gets bailouts from the government because they’re too big to fail. No one loses a job, no one goes to jail.

          • SomeGuy

            jackson, you have the power on November 6 to help someone lose his job over some of these failures.

          • Resident

            Plus there’s the LIBOR scandal, and the fact that large banks are continuing to make risky moves (JP Morgan Chase trading loss of perhaps $9 billion or more), with the understanding that they will win on the risky deals, or if they lose too much, they will be backed up by the government because they are too big to fail.

            I say this as someone who is not a traditional “liberal”.

          • drax

            The wrong people, though.

          • dk (not DK)

            Some guy–

            You mean there is someone running for the job who is more likely to regulate big business than the current occupant of said job? You must be kidding.

          • internet tourettes

            It was the bankers who lied and committed fraud by not disclosing that they were selling securities with little or value as investment grade securities

            It was the Loan companies who issued loans to people with out disclosing the terms or bothering to qualify the borrower’s ability to pay for the undisclosed costs in their loan.

            The people who got caught up in the whole housing bubble didn’t plan on loosing all of their money and their house. They listened to the real-estate agent who said the housing prices never go down, to the loan officer who said that they could just take out another loan if they got in trouble. And for a lot of people, housing was their only opportunity to build wealth due to increasing housing prices and stagnant wages. So yes a lot of people were forced into these loans and all of the people who profited from these activities walked away with all of their gains and no liability.

          • drax

            I have mixed feelings about all that.

            Yeah, not disclosing things is bad. But if you listen to someone or fail to ask questions or believe that you can “just take out another loan,” that’s your fault. Bad investing or bad money management is your problem, and a lack of choices in building wealth isn’t the bank’s fault.

          • Alan Greedscam

            But the banksters made it the taxpayers problem when their bad loans began to unravel.

          • Josh S

            Troll alert.

        • SomeGuy

          I don’t follow the logic in your last statement. If the bankers should be in jail, why hasn’t the DOJ/SEC made it happen? And if Obama’s administration won’t make it happen, what difference will it make if the alleged “LBO specialist” gets in there and presumably doesn’t make it happen either?

          • jackson

            Good luck prosecuting it. The deregulation made a lot of it relatively legal, if not moral.

          • internet tourettes

            Because the DOJ and SEC have had their funding cut to the bone and for the most part are bush league lawyers compared to the legal staff of the companies they regulate. Most of their staff is there to get a job with the companies that they regulate and move through the revolving door.

          • SomeGuy

            I won’t dispute that. But it’s not clear why you made what appeared to be an anti-Romney statement using the jailing/non-jailing of bankers as a jumping off point, i.e. “The bankers… should be in jail now but instead people [want to elect Romney].”

          • I’ll Draw You a Picture

            Because he is cut from the same cloth as the bankster scum.

          • internet tourettes

            LBO’s are based on the premise that you can take a troubled company, down size it, have it take on a lot of debt to pay the LBO’s cost of acquisition and the fees that the LBO want to collect. Then after they have squeezed the company dry they sell the company and try to make even more money. Often times LBO’s are looking for balance sheet items that they can either liquidate or manipulate to increase the “paper” valuation of the company. They can do this either by eliminating balance sheet obligations like pensions or healthcare expense or by radically lowering the cost of production by moving companies to lower cost labor areas (Like China or Mexico). If it is more advantageous they will simply liquidate a company, breaking it up and sell off the pieces to other companies and laying off workers.

            The key fact is that Leverage Buy Outs are not long term “work outs” or re structuring but rather arbitrage based on short term gains. Romney’s father ran AMC and successfully managed its integration into Chrysler with minimal job losses. Bain, from personal experience, would not have taken that route because they could have made maybe 3% more by firing all of the workers and cutting off their health benefits. They leave no money on the table are willing to shaft, screw, or steal to get the last penny out the door before the lights go out.

            That’s why I don’t think that Romney is right for the presidency because his skill is for easy short term solutions as opposed to hard long term fixes. We need some one who, when the economy is back on its feet is willing to do something responsible like have a rational tax increase to ensure that when we have our next international adventure (Iran?), or financial meltdown (Euro collapse or perhaps China economic crises) we will have some money to throw at the problem and not debt.

          • SomeGuy

            You could look at it that way. Or you could consider that Romney is goal-oriented and has a track record for reaching goals when given the authority to do so. In which case his purported goal of positioning the USA for long-term strength and economic growth would also be something he’d throw himself behind. You don’t really think his goal is to chop up the country and sell it for parts (or something similar), do you?

            I’m not gonna shill for the guy. I just think you’re characterizing his experience in a negative light by assuming that he’s only able to apply his skills (which may, themselves, be mischaracterized) in cookie-cutter fashion rather than adapt his skills for success to a variety of situations. If you do that to every candidate who’s not a career politician, they’ll all look incapable.

            And note that Romney governed a state successfully without resorting to that approach.

          • Mitt Romney

            “Let GM go bankrupt.”

          • Willard Romney

            And note I was born on third base and think I hit a home run.

          • Josh S

            Errr, triple.

          • LawDog

            You obviously know nothing about DOJ lawyers. I’m a DOJ lawyer with a BA from Columbia and a JD from Harvard. Many of my colleagues have similar academic credentials, but were also on Law Review or include a Fullbright or Rhodes on their resume. The last time my division had an opening, we got 1200 resumes from very qualified people. Many of us also formerly worked at AmLaw 100 law firms before realizing that lifestyle sucks and so does the work. Try again with that “bush league” generalization.

          • internet tourettes

            Tell me of one antitrust motion filed this year?

            Did you work on the Nacchio Case?

            Why is the Manhatten DA, with less resources and a bigger conflict of interest (think of the finance money that goes to local politics) able to convict violators of financial crimes even with obstruction from both the SEC and Justice?

          • internet tourettes

            Oh yea, I have a JD/MBA joint degree with an masters in economics (econometrics) and I am really disapointed with Justices performance in a bunch of cases.

        • gmfbcc

          Without the government, there would have been no economic collapse. Banks, Fannie, and Freddie originated subprime mortgages because the government FORCED them to. It began with Clinton and continued with Bush. Banks and the agencies didn’t want to balance sheet the loans, regulators didn’t want them on bank balance sheets, but investors wanted them.

          • drax
          • gmfbcc

            What on earth makes you think I’m right wing? I voted for Obama, for chrissakes. One of the few things I dislike more than lunatic right wingers are outspoken but uninformed left wingers.

            I didn’t say anything about the CRA, which I know was only a small impact (but it did have a small direct and larger indirect impacts). If I was referring to the CRA, I would have mentioned Carter instead of Clinton and Bush. The much larger impact was HUD and pressure from Washington to loosen underwriting standards and lower LTVs.

            A quick Google search turned this up.

            I’m sure if you wanted to know the truth, you could find more. http://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/20100512affordablehousingpolicyandthefinancialcrisis.pdf

            Here’s another good one for you, and as far as those evil banks who took bailout money. I bet you’d be surprised to know the Treasury told the first recipients of TARP that it was their patriotic duty to take the money (which means that you better effing take this money).

          • drax

            I didn’t say you were right wing. Read what I wrote.

          • Typical Republican

            Facts mean nothing to me.

          • ultravox

            ….oh vienna!

  • SomeGuy

    Will this poll will be used to categorize the web site’s demographics for promotional/advertising materials?

  • George

    Washington DC and the surrounding VA and MD suburbs are home to the corporate offices of the government – so it’s predictable the majority of people who live here have some kind of work associated with the federal government.

    A better question would be to ask “Are you a drain on society”. The majority would answer no as those who are a ‘Drain’ are using the ObamaNet and ObamaPhone to stream porn and call 900 numbers.

    • Quoth the Raven

      What are you talking about? How can I get an ObamaPhone? Is that like an iPhone?

      • GodFila

        The OPhone works wonderfully – simply use it generously
        and let others pay the bill!

        • internet tourettes

          Its the Regan and Bush phone actually, the universal service plan has been around for years.

          You are a foolish stooge

          • SomeGuy

            Yes, the “Lifeline” program began during the Reagan administration in 1985. However, the cost of the program has swelled from $772 million in 2008 to $1.6 billion.

          • internet tourettes

            Which is paid for by the Telcos and is charged back to its customers as a fee on their bill. You can call it a tax or a fee but its self funded and does not incure debt or liablities for the government.

          • SomeGuy

            But you called it the “Regan [sic] and Bush phone.” I called it by its actual name. I didn’t refer to it as a tax or a fee, and all I did was state fact. I’m not sure what my takeaway should be from your comment.

    • drax

      George, as you clearly know, there’s no requirement that comments here make any sense.

      • FrenchyB

        Come on now, don’t pick on Adm. Stockdale.

        • Quoth the Raven

          Don’t want to be overly touchy, but I hope you’re not mocking Stockdale in some way.

          • Curious

            Why’s that?

          • Quoth the Raven

            Because the guy should be forever insulated from mocking. And if you have to ask why, buy a book about him.

          • Or, if you’re lazy, google the Dennis Miller rant about Stockdale. That pretty much said it all.

          • He’s Kind of an Has Been

            I don’t find Dennis Miller especially knowledgeable.

  • drax

    I can’t think of anything more boring than Wall Street and finance and all that crap. Maybe insurance – sorry, Hartford, CT.

    • Goldman Sachs

      Which could be why they run the country.

    • …marks the spot

      In the U.S., the financial sector represents about 40 percent of the total profit of the economy. Alas, when the recession struck, the financial sector’s gigantism and complexity helped turn what might have been a brush fire into a meltdown.

  • S. Arlington

    This poll is totally skewed. Everyone knows government contractors don’t do sh*t. Of course we’ll have a higher % represented on ARLNow!

  • HappyFed

    I used to work in the private sector for a large law firm before moving over to the government. You want to find boring, egomaniacs with no life outside of their billable hours, visit one of DC’s BigLaw firms. In my experience, people in government are much more interesting as they actually have lives and interests outside of work.

    • Tabs

      “Having a life”= made easier because they can go home at 4 pm.

      • Quoth the Raven

        You say that like it’s a bad thing. Quality of life is important, and makes you more productive in the long run…

        • Tabs

          I could not agree more.

        • gmfbcc

          Quality of life is important, but government employees who work 1/2 as much as the private sector shouldn’t get paid anywhere close to the same — but a lot of them do.

      • internet tourettes

        If you can’t get your work done on time with out working crazy hours either you are incompetent or you have a job that that is unreasonable. I don’t give good reviews to people who can’t get their work done with in standard work hours.

        • gmfbcc

          Funny how what you do impacts your view.

          I don’t give good reviews to people who leave at 5 PM every day.

          • drax

            How about both of you review people based on the work they do, not when they leave work?


          • Worker Bee

            Do they have to check in with you each time they go to the bathroom?

          • internet tourettes

            I respect people who can do their job with a level of skill that they can manage their time, customers, and me (management) and still have a life. My responsiblity is to make sure that they have a fair amount of work and assist so that things don’t get out of hand which is what I do. But if some one is always in a panic and “pulling a rabbit out of their hat” in order to do thier job there is a problem. My rule is: would I want my Dr or accountant be working so hard and furious before they performed a surgery on me or did my taxes. And Im selfish too, Its a lot harder to manage some one who is going through a divorce, is having problems with their kids, or is stressed out due to too many hours in the office as opposed to some one who comes in the office in a good mood because they know that they can meet their obligations at home.

          • performance reviewer

            Thankyou for your comments
            you get a “Meets Expectations” and a 0.5% raise.

          • internet tourettes

            But no raise for you if your a Fed!

          • Ben Bernake

            I’ll see to it nobody in the 99% gets a raise.

          • drax

            Okay, great statement, i.t.

          • gmfbcc


            I just thought it was interesting that we were polar opposites on this point.

            My group works long hours and a lot of work gets done after 5 PM. So if someone is gone every single day at 5 PM, that means they aren’t pulling their weight.

  • YTK

    Well, frankly, any taxpayer “works for the Government”

    • Josh S


  • Walsh44

    I’m retired from the government. Is that an Other?

  • Kemper

    I agree with allot of views but the bottom line is the Washington area can be a very exciting area and people with many interests and life paths and education.I am one of the others with a home improvement company and almost everyones income cycles are from local or federal funding and programs or contracts. This is still more than ever a dog eat dog world and you need to look after your family and community the best you can.Also many goverment employees I know are allot of fun especially after a couple of shots at happy hour or BBQ.

  • TheMissile

    What option should we select if our job is best described as “slinging dope”?


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