Opinion

Getting paid by taxpayers to watch porn

While the United Stated was spiraling into a recession, high-ranking government employees were really enjoying their work—they got to watch pornography all day on their work computers at the expense of American taxpayers. Now all of those other scandals regarding lack of oversight and enforcement at the SEC make a lot more sense. The SEC’s Office of the Inspector General’s summary outlining 33 investigations regarding the widespread use of pornography on SEC computers has become public and is quite, ahem, revealing.

The report uncovered that for the past two years, high-ranking government employees making between $99,000 and $220,000 have been looking at a lot of pornography on their work computer. In fact, one senior attorney spent eight hours per day exercising his “First Amendment right” to free porn and there were plenty of other similar stories.

As the CEO of the nations’ largest public policy organization for women, I am outraged that my tax dollars paid for the salaries for these men (and women) while they wasted time instead of doing their jobs. This brings to light an insidious use of government waste and fraud by a federal regulatory body while the nation teetered on the edge of economic collapse.

Why aren’t these folks immediately fired upon exposure? According to a source at the SEC it’s not as simple as it seems. In order to fire or even suspend employees caught purposely viewing porn the agency must fight with their union. Apparently, even wasting tax dollars viewing porn isn’t reason enough for the NTEU to support a bad employee getting the sack. Perhaps partially for the aforementioned reason, the typical response of big government agencies is people never get fired, just reassigned to another cubicle.

The fact that they were not for the most part, properly disciplined, only leads me to conclude that the SEC is being severely mismanaged. How many other government agencies have similar problems? At least one that we know of. Last year, it was uncovered that employees at the National Science Foundation also spent hours and hours looking at porn on the job. Again, no one was fired.

Putting aside the horrific use of government funds, what about the people who were looking at the pornography with no regard for their jobs? They are perfect examples of how some people become truly addicted to porn to the point that they can no longer lead normal lives or have healthy relationships. The pornography business is an over $13 billion dollar per year enterprise with profits larger than the NFL, NBA and MLB combined. It is literally everywhere and prevalent to the point where moms can barely protect their kids from inadvertent exposure.

Porn coarsens our society and can also hurt those who view it. Mary Ann Layden, PhD from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Therapy said in a Wired.com interview that, “Porn is the most concerning thing to psychological health that I know of.” She also said it is a more difficult habit to kick than cocaine. Clearly the government workers at the SEC and perhaps other agencies would agree. It is time for a government-wide response to the wasted hours and human toll of a society that refuses to admit that porn harms.

Therefore, I call on President Obama to require a government investigation into the extent of this problem and set up proper disciplinary action for those caught wasting our money. I seriously doubt the SEC or National Science Foundation are the only government agencies with a porn problem.

Enough is enough. More than just a slap on the wrist is needed for these employees—and the supervisors who manage them.

Penny Nance is chief executive of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public-policy women’s organization