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What Is True Public Service?

Written by | June 23rd, 2012

Over and over, we hear people, primarily on the left, protect public sector unions, as well as their exuberant benefits, regardless of the fact that states are falling off a cliff, financially, because state Governments have over-promised public benefits, with the tax-payer’s money.

We can have a reasonable discussion as to whether there should be unions in Government, and to what extent public sector workers should be paid, and given benefits. What is particularly upsetting at times, however, is when the union, and BIG GOVERNMENT, protectionists, often use the “public servant” line, in order to advance their cause and argument. In other words, the implication is, if we, as private citizens, believe that public sector workers, unions, and their benefits, should be reigned in, or reduced, then, surely, we must be trying to hurt public “servants.” Nothing could be further from the truth!

Over the years, I have had the pleasure to know many volunteer firemen; and, today, small townships, and communities, still have volunteer firemen. So, this notion that public service is commensurate with compensation, the remuneration of public benefits, or a Government job, is simply absurd! True public service, in my humble opinion, are people who are willing to serve their communities, and country, voluntarily, or for very little money. Self-service, conversely, are those who run for Government, or take public jobs, simply because of the promise of extravagant public benefits, paid for by private sector citizens.

I am not, at all, implying that people in such positions are not deserving of decent salaries, or benefits. I am, however, asserting that, exuberant benefits often bring all of the wrong people to public service. One needs not look much further then our Congress, to see how, what was once considered public “service,” has now gone completely awry!

Further Reading:
Benjamin Franklin on public service

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4 thoughts on “What Is True Public Service?

  1. Jackie Durkee

    I totally agree with you. Public employees are NOT the same as public servants. I do not believe that the pay and benefits of government employees should exceed the private sector in the same geographic area for the same types of job done.  And in today’s age, I’m totally against Unions. I feel there may have been a need for them once upon a time in history, but now I feel they do more harm than good.

    1. markross Post author

      I agree with you as well Jackie. Unions, once upon a time, were perhaps a useful necessity in our country; but, I too, for the most part, see them as doing more damage then good to our economy. I am more opposed to public sector unions then private sector unions, for all the obvious reasons.

      “I do not believe that the pay and benefits of government employees should exceed the private sector in the same geographic area for the same types of job done.”

      I totally agree with that, as well!

  2. Bob Hazel

    I totally agree with both of you Mark and Jackie. Unions in the public sector should NOT exist. In the private sector unions are good to a certain extent. I’ve had one job in my life where it was unionized. They did go to bat for the employee, but on the other hand they were too quick to take our money and raise union dues. Also there are too many crooked members of unions. They also have a tendency to sweep too many issues under the rug. 

    I do NOT like the idea of employment at will, where the employee can be terminated with or without cause. On the other hand the employee can do the same. There a too many situations where the employee does not have a fighting chance; at least with Unions they have a better chance.

    I see neither one of you have mentioned the Military. Of course they are NOT Unionized and it is all volunteer, but they are definitly public servants. The Military does NOT and has NOT gotton the RESPECT they should from Politicians nor from the Public Sector. The pay is not even close to a lot of civilian government employee positions and in a lot of cases not compatable with the public sector. The benefits are good, but I also think the pay and benefits could be better. As you know the elected officials serve one term of sevice and get full pay and benefits.  I served in the Army for 20 years and only receive half of my basic military pay and have to pay for medical, dental, and vision.  I do NOT even think this is right!!! What say you??? 

    1. markross Post author

      Hi Bob!
      Thank you for the insightful comment!
      Let me see if I can address a few of the things that you mentioned:

      “I do NOT like the idea of employment at will, where the employee can be terminated with or without cause. On the other hand the employee can do the same”

      That is exactly right Bob! If a person can walk out on their employer, at any given time, regardless of the circumstances, why shouldn’t a “business owner” be able to get rid of someone, at will, who is no longer an asset to “their company”? At times, it may not seem fair, but as a person who really respects private ownership, I do believe that an employer should be able to fire a person, at will; preferably, if the person is not doing a good job, or is frequently absent from work.

      “I see neither one of you have mentioned the Military.”

      That is because the post is really geared more toward a person’s motive. In order words, I was distinguishing between those who truly want to serve their country, even for very little money, as opposed to those who go into Government positions ONLY for the monetary gain, and public benefits. There are many honorable people, still, who serve our country – which would include most of those who are serving in our military. I do agree, though, that military personnel should be paid a lot more; but I would prefer if all Americans, including Government employees, could shop in a “vibrant free-market” for healthcare benefits, and retirement plans. That would allow us to pay good public employees a much better salary, while enabling them to customize, and prioritize, their own healthcare and retirement needs.

      Also, thank you for “your service” to our country, Bob! :)


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