The idea that government employees are providing a service seems to have gone by the wayside and has been replaced by the idea that government employees perform no function. This thought must stem from ideas that government itself serves no function. These thoughts lead to attitudes of contempt and disrespect all too often.
Twenty years ago I worked for the post office. We worked a lot in Christmas season but not so much the rest of the year. We left work early a lot. I remember leaving with a co-worker about an hour into our shift. She made a joke to someone we ran into about "our government dollars at work". Truth be known we were not getting paid but they did not know that. Ten years ago I worked for the county government. I could not believe the number of lazy people who would show up for work, hang out all day, and not do a darned thing. To make matter worse, our supervisors never addressed these problems and would dump more projects on those that actually get things done. Two months ago I sent paperwork into our local child support office. One month ago I received a phone call asking a question about the paperwork I had filled out. To date, I have not received any sort of response to the paperwork I filled out. People have good reason to believe government workers are no better than welfare collectors. In truth, many government workers are worse because they are collecting money for pretending to do work that they never do. At least the welfare recipients are honest about staying home.
Yes, people increasingly view government employees in the same way as welfare recipients, because government employees have to do very little for their money, and they are paid very well. The government employees pretend to be public servants, but in reality, they are paid more for their work than a comparable person in the private sector.
I personally think it's deplorable, but of those Americans who are not public/government employees, or related to someone who is, I believe the majority of them have a view of our public/government employees (federal, state, county, and city) that is in the same vain as how they see welfare recipients.
In most cases, American's don't bundle public employees into the same category as welfare recipients. Some Americans might dislike the pensions and comfortable lives that many government employees live, though. Still, the overwhelming feeling in America is that government employees are nothing like welfare recipients, especially since they actually work.
I do not view public or government employees in the same way that I view welfare recipients. People who receive assistance in the United States are typically employed and hard working individuals that are unfortunate enough to work for one of the corporations in America, such as, Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Yum! Foods, or any other corporations that doesn't feel the need to be responsible enough to pay a living wage to the employees that support the back bone of their business. Government employees rather have been lucky enough to be afforded jobs, that they don't seem to appreciate. These jobs provide benefits and decent pay that I'm sure any Wal-Mart employee would love to have, yet the people who have the jobs complain about them or comment about their availability of free time during work hours because they often don't perform useful or meaningful tasks.
While there are some similarities in the way Americans view public/government employees and welfare workers, primarily in regard to job security and that public/government employees tend not to work as hard civilian employees because government jobs are very secure, there are also some stark differences in the way American view the two groups as well. Public/Government employees are viewed as people who do work and, therefore, earn their benefits rather than people who do nothing and do not earn them, as is the increasingly popular public view of welfare recipients.