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Fixing government: Bret Stephens on raising the bar for government officials

America is a country known for breeding world-class thinkers and entrepreneurs, but top-tier professionals aren’t exactly flooding into government to utilize their skills. Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens puts it more frankly: “We have a problem with the caliber of people who are in government.”

How can the government better attract and retain the nation’s best and brightest? Stephens proposes better salaries and rigorous standards for hiring and firing within the federal government to turn around a system that “attracts mediocrities.”

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  • Ziga4866

    We also need to prohibit insider trading and lobbying before taking and after leaving their jobs or office.

  • Dsnowbird2

    Very true!

  • Spoisme

    THANK YOU!!!

  • Flaggster73

    I would like to see high standards for both ethics and competence in the media and in our private financial sectors as well. Why do so many who have never served in a public sector job find it so easy to paint everyone as mediocre, shout it on the news nightly, and then wonder at recruitment challenges?

  • Jraze

    you can’t be serious…. do you really think people get into politics for the salary?

  • Cgouldco

    Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country!

  • Laceandbutton

    The ones with natural talents also need to have the natural humanitarian tendencies in order for their skills to do good for many, so the pay scale should not really factor in if they believe they are making a difference.

  • Elizabeth Caran

    As someone who spent my professional career in government service, I
    take exception to the prejudicial and faulty premise of government
    workers being ‘mediocre’.   My husband worked in the lofty private
    sector for thirty years and the public sector for ten years.   He has
    worked with exceptional and mediocre staff and leadership in both
    sectors.  His professional decisions were vetoed by politicians
    influenced by private sector demands not because he was mediocre.

    major challenge for public sector workers is the influence of ‘partisan
    politics’ into the workplace  For instance, the SEC is unable to
    properly staff their department and investigate the private sector
    because the Republicans and some Democrats don’t want the agency to
    successfully monitor the financial sector.   The SEC is hampered by a
    top-down culture which rewards the staff that buddies up and turns a
    blind eye to financial sector abuses and deliberately hires friends of
    the financial sector or those who will do their bidding.  Government
    scientists are hampered by the far right wing of the Republican Party
    who are in political debt to the anti-scientist fundamentalist Christian
    voters and politicians of both parties who are indebted to the Oil,
    Gas, and Coal Industries.    In my career as a public sector worker, my
    ability to perform to the best of my abilities was due to opportunistic
    politicians who began to dictate to me how to do my job.   They were not
    professionals in my field and their decisions were driven by faulty
    public opinions.   

  • Mamasalsera

    I’ve been in academia a long time.  I’ve seen many a genius fail because they lacked adequate interpersonal skills or even a breadth of skills necessary to function properly in their position.  Instead of jumping on inexperienced wiz-kids right out of school, poach them from industry & higher education after they’ve been proven  – and fully vetted!  IQ and GPA are not enough.  And yes, salaries would have to increase.

  • Bobmunch64

    Not only do we need to attract the best and brightest into the actual roles of governance at those levels where governance actually does the work of government on a day in, day out basis, but it needs also to attract a better group of individuals into the halls of Congress and other “senior management” positions.  What good is it to try to bring into government and governance people of superior capabilities only to be led by political dullards who cannot muster an intelligent vision of the future for more than their own political gain?  We have to get past the notion that the future of this country will be taken care of by somebody else down the road.  We need to raise our standards AND our expectations of ALL who we entrust with the governance of this country.  And it is governance that is the real issue here.  Politics and ideologies are how we hide our ignorance of how to shape our own destinies in a constructive manner.  Constructive governance can mean more than keeping the water running and the lights on while falling further behind.

  • Delhez

    It’s about winning far more than much else… Many fight to be right, others fight for truth. ( repubs, dems, respectively)

  • Anonymous

    Fixing Government video is thinly veiled effort to gain money for the most talented.  If that worked our Government would run OH so smoothly.  Your comments need greater insight and depth.