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[personal profile] mtbc
In The West Wing (1999) the senior White House staffers chronically work very long hours. How does this make sense? Is it good for their cognition to be ongoingly compromised? Can there not be enough staff to take on the workload? Perhaps the problem is that they would not be able to leave notes for each other or that they do not have enough room to put all the people or something. It does seem as if there has to be a more effective way for them to work. Maybe we are supposed to believe that they are so superlatively good at their jobs that even half-asleep they outperform some next-best people who might instead be on duty to catch some acute situation.

Date: 2017-06-21 09:58 pm (UTC)
mindstalk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mindstalk
Workaholism seems pandemic. But I imagine at that level, a lot of what's being done is hard decisions. Up one level, I think Obama said that any easy decisions were made before they reached his desk. If your job is making decisions in the sense of balancing competing interests, that's arguably pretty hard to delegate. Not like plugging in another doctor or programmer.

Date: 2017-06-21 10:16 pm (UTC)
emperor: (Default)
From: [personal profile] emperor
I think senior civil servants (especially those working closely with ministers) also often end up working very long hours. This has always struck me as daft.

Date: 2017-06-22 12:52 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] penta
Random dreamwidth person commenting! Hi!

Unfortunately, the long hours portrayed in that series are actually truth in television. White House staffers at all levels work insane hours, the higher you go the worse it gets. There's a reason why almost nobody stays past 4 years, and most burn out around 18 months to 2 years in: The hours suck.

Additionally, the Executive Office of the President, the WH staffers we all see and are familiar with? 300 people, maximum. Doing everything. They're supported by a ton of people in other organizations, but a lot of the hard stuff falls on them.

In return and in slight compensation, most of them are set for their future careers (note that most WH staff are very young - 20s and 30s - George Stephanopoulos was (in)famously 33 or so when he started working at the White House).

Date: 2017-06-24 02:29 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] penta
It's not *quite* as bad as I make it sound. That description really applies to the political appointees - who, for lower-level WH staff in administrations prior to Trump, would have worked on the campaign (and demonstrated their stamina and basic competence) and been given a job with the administration basically as the reward of victory. Cabinet Secretaries, "commissioned" WH personnel (the folks with titles like Assistant to the President, Deputy Assistant to the President, and Special Assistant to the President), and so forth, before Trump, the senior folks...They'd been working in and around government for years, decades in some cases. But yes, a lot of seemingly-important positions at the WH, even in a more normal administration, are occupied by people for whom it may sometimes be their first real job out of college or grad school. (They generally pretty much kicked ass academically and are serious high-flyers, but still.)

Which is why my numbers were wrong. According to budget requests, some 2000 to 2500 people served in EOP in recent years, with a budget of around $300-400 Million. Some are political appointees (the more senior you go the more likely this is, of course, but there are whole departments (like the political shop obviously) where that's the case), a good number are civil service on detail from agencies (almost everybody else), and a surprisingly high number are military personnel on assignment (as was said in a book on the White House I have, if everybody military at the WH wore their uniforms, it'd look like an armed camp. Hence, most of them wear suits and the like day to day, because we do not want the WH to be anything but civilian.)

Again, though, my remarks apply up through Obama. Trump and how his WH work are very different, and even if they weren't, too new to really be settled in.


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Mark T. B. Carroll

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