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Much Good is Done by Government Workers

Max Stier | Partnership for Public Service

At the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring. Md., microbiologist Patricia Guerry spent years creating a promising Campylobacter vaccine to prevent the world’s top cause of food-borne intestinal illness, while at the Justice Department in Washington attorney Walter Benjamin Fisherow has presided more than 16 legal settlements with coal-fired power plants that led to the removal of 2 million tons per year of harmful pollutants from the air.

Michael German of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Atlanta office has also been working to help the nation, tirelessly building a successful program that brings an array of community partners together to attack and deal with the root causes of chronic homelessness in cities around the nation.

There certainly is a legitimate debate about the size, the role, the spending and the effectiveness of our government, and there is no doubt that federal workers can improve their performance and that government should be held to a high standard.

Recent public opinion polls show that only about 23 percent of the public trusts government to do what is right, not a historic low but certainly a sad commentary and well below the 44 percent in 2000, and the 60 percent in the 1970s who felt government was on their side.

But it is important to keep in mind that collectively it is our government and that the people of our government are engaged day-in and day-out seeking to protect our health, safety and welfare of the nation.

It is easy to fall back on old stereotypes that often are reinforced in the media, where a 2008 Gallup poll found that 57 percent of the public believed the news coverage about government was negative.

Attacking government may make some people feel good, improve media ratings or provide some short-term political gain, but it is shortsighted, ignores the positive accomplishments that take place every day, and in the end, demeans us all.


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