Public sector job mentality

Gary North wrote a great piece on Murray Rothbard and the strategy he employed to get his message across. He also brings up a distinctly different strategy used by other so-called Austrian economists, which is to gain tenure at a university and try to influence from the inside-out. The problems with this, as he shows, are significant, and they stem from an ideological rift between the two camps.

In particular he describes an attitude which I find rampant, not only among university faculty, but among people in general looking for employment in the public sector:

Tenure-seekers look for a risk-free career, in which they will receive far above-market wages, yet be immune from market forces. Tenure is the dream of every bureaucrat. The offer of tenure lures intelligent people into lives of high-salaried irrelevance. They write narrow, useless papers for publication in journals that no one reads, except in a quest for footnotes to steal.

This applies to jobs outside of universities. Because we have public/government jobs and other forms of employment in which the person paying – the taxpayer – has no direct control over prices or wages or even if they wish to pay for it, these jobs have certain guarantees and protections others do not. They inevitably involve far less work for far greater pay than any private sector job. Due to unions, a person is also practically immune from being reprimanded or fired.

Additionally, whereas the free market would remove unnecessary positions or reduce pay for jobs that are no longer needed, government simply raises taxes to subsidize. A person ultimately gets paid a lot to do nothing significant or important.

For me, it’s far better to do important work for little compensation. Self-worth is not found in how much one gets paid, but the impact their work has.

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