Friday, September 04, 2009


Gather ‘round children and grandpa will tell you a story. A story about how we got our beloved dog Lassie. It’s a story about a completely fictional Federal Agency known as, oh, let’s say the Timber Service. The Old Ranger worked for the Timber Service and he was good at his work and proud of the Service. He had begun working for it as a seasonal employee during college in the summers, doing tough, dirty work in the back country. He had slowly moved his way up the ladder from there, one step at a time, giving his best and working hard. He did and knew most of the jobs of those who would eventually be under his leadership…recreation, trails, timber, range, firefighting, etc. He got his hands dirty and calloused, his boots and clothes muddy, and was bitten by insects and worked in the rain. But it paid off in the end, and he became the Ranger.

All this time, un-noticed by the Old Ranger, sinister forces had been creeping slowly into the Service, things known as Affirmative Action and Diversity, Bureaucracy and Fanatical Environmentalism. Soon, like kudzu, these creeping tentacles spread and wrapped themselves around the Service. No matter how well qualified and how hard they had worked, Service men were soon being passed over for promotion by people who had different plumbing or different skin color, whether the latter were even remotely qualified or not.

Not even the Chief of the Service was safe. Once, these chiefs had been grizzled veterans coming from long decades of actual experience in the Service, men who would stand right up on their hind legs and tell meddling Congressmen to get stuffed. Soon, though, even the Chief had to back pedal in the face of what was called the Civil Rights Mafia. One Chief made a joke about a new appointment, saying the man was not only well qualified, but that the Chief “liked the way he cut his hair.” This was a joke. Both the Chief and the appointee were bald men. Some did not get the joke. Almost before the words were out of the Chief’s mouth, three women filed civil right complaints against him in reaction to that comment, saying it proved he was showing preferential treatment in hiring white males.

The Chiefs quickly went from strong leaders to powerless, politically correct mealy-mouthed token “managers”, always looking over their shoulder for the Civil Rights Mafia like citizens in the old Soviet Union, terrified and groveling on their knees in front of the altar of Diversity.

One New Chief, acting again in his own interest and not the interest of the land, the people, or the Timber Service, said that he himself would show all employees that civil rights and workforce diversity were a priority. He selected, apparently at random, a woman who had never worked for the Service before, a Puerto Rican woman with a hyphenated last name, to be his assistant chief and he sang her praises to the heavens about her “tremendous project management skills and tremendous energy.”

The Old Ranger, after three decades of faithful service, was allowed to go east to the big Capital City for the Service’s 100-year anniversary celebration. The Old Ranger, a veteran, proud of his country and his Service, wanted to fly the American flag for the Ceremony. The Assistant Chief angrily and vehemently refused. When the Old Ranger asked her why, the Assistant Chief sneered, “I hate America!” and then said she was only there in Capital City until she could retire and go back to Puerto Rico. This made the Old Ranger very sad.

Soon, the Service became engulfed with unqualified, ignorant, mean, low creatures; bean-counters and bureaucrats and middle-managers. They knew absolutely nothing of the Timber Service’s mission and had zero experience in nor knowledge of its real duties. They fostered something called a bureaucracy, and once introduced it grew and grew, like a cancer cell, gobbling up everything in sight. They generated more and more mindless paperwork to inflict upon their subordinates to justify their existence. A system supposed designed to support field personnel came to hinder them in every way possible and keep them from their actual work. More and more “oppressed” women and minorities were given special treatment and promoted higher and higher, no matter how unqualified or even downright incompetent they were. If they did something so horrible and illegal that it could not go unnoticed, they were given a lateral transfer to somewhere else.

It was obvious to the Old Ranger that the Timber Service was now essentially leaderless, run by drones and hacks that cared only for their own behinds and jobs. The work that the Service was supposed to be doing became the lowest priority, and the lowest-ranking people who did the most actual work, and the type of work that actually benefited the public, were always first to get the axe when budget cuts came along. The Service thought this necessary to throw out the peons so that some third assistant deputy undersecretary could still have the funding to redecorate her office. The remaining workers found themselves chained to a desk and serving a computer instead of out in the forest.

The Service no longer cared for the land or served the people, as it had been created for. The forests were in terrible shape and the people were very unhappy with the meaningless rules and regulations foisted upon them that kept them from utilizing and enjoying their own public lands. Once financially self-sustaining, conscientious, and loved the by the public, the Service became a “for-s***, do-nothing agency” loathed and detested by the Western public.

A Congressional report called the Service “leaderless and adrift”. The Old Ranger agreed. Over his own misgivings, trying to play the game, he hired a young woman for a back-country job that was very, very physically demanding. He told her repeatedly beforehand how tough it was, but she wanted the job. The young woman lasted only two weeks before she couldn't take it anymore. Then, not wishing to hurt her career by just quitting she demanded a full-time office job. When she was denied that, she filed a Civil Rights suit against the Old Ranger for “creating a workplace environment hostile to women.”

On the word of a single person, the Old Ranger was reprimanded, demoted, and sent to another ranger district far from his family and home. Everyone at his old district signed a petition in defense of the Old Ranger and sent it to Capital City. Eventually, those in the Capital City sent an “investigator”. She asked some people some questions, but mainly bitched about how their pissant small town didn’t have proper government-run day care for her children and what a lousy sonofabitch her ex husband was.

Eventually, she completed her investigation and went back to Capital City. A month or two later, the Old Ranger was found to be innocent of the charges against him and was re-instated to his old position. The young woman who had caused the furor was given $20,000 to shut up and go somewhere else.

Soon, when 216 major Government agencies were rated as the best and worst places to work, the Service had plummeted to the Bottom 10, at 206. Good, hard-working, dedicated people who had once loved the Service began to retire or leave as quickly as they could. The “leaders” did not notice. They did notice, and complain about, the fact that they could not get any young people to apply for jobs with the Service.

The only solution the Service “leaders” could come up with was to seek MORE Diversity. They also introduced “Casual Friday”, when Service employees could wear jeans, to improve the abysmal morale. The “leaders”, then viewing all problems fully solved, gave each other big pats on the back and cash rewards.

The Old Ranger watched a woman who had done nothing other than work in a bank get hired and two years later she was a Deputy Forest Supervisor. The Old Ranger was on a selection board to help pick the new district ranger for his district. The people on the board carefully studied the applicants’ qualifications and checked references. Then a man from the Regional Office came in and told them that since there was only one woman applicant, she got the job, and never mind those pesky qualifications.

And so the Old Ranger was sadder than ever. He began to drink heavily and wound up in the gutter. One day, he ate his revolver. That’s how we got our dog Lassie, who was once the Old Ranger’s companion.

But not to worry children. We are getting a new Ranger. She is a Puerto Rican woman with a hyphenated last name, who has never worked for the Service before, and she says she will come up with many new regulations to straighten things out here in Montana, the land, as she condescendingly calls it, of hideous web-footed redneck hillbilly scum.

Lassie! Lassie, where did you get that bottle of cheap whiskey and that revolver!?!? No! Stop!


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