Government workers do NOT belong to the people!

A conservative friend and I were discussing the SEC employees who were caught watching porn at work.  We both agreed that was stupid, but he had a typical conservative response, at least in my experience.  He felt that “If someone STEALS thousands of dollars they go to prison. When a worker is paid to do a job but instead watches porn…or cartoons for that matter…they are STEALING and should go to prison. When someone watches at home (porn or cartoons) they are on their own time. Government workers should be held to a higher standard…they are serving the citizens that work hard to pay their salaries. I am SICK of huge government for this very reason.”

This is my response:

I think that’s a very extreme stance.  Employees are employees, whether they’re paid by the government or not.  In fact, they’re paying part of their own salary because they pay taxes too.  I have other friends that hold this view (though not many of course), and I’ve genuinely never understood it.   It seems like you think people personally owe you something because they work for a government to which you pay taxes, which is absurd.  Why should one employee be held to a higher standard than another?  Because government employees are NOT your representatives, elected to hold office and accountable to you, they are employees and accountable to their employer.

So while I disagree with watching porn at work (of course, or at all on your computer because of the viruses), the argument that government employees are employed by the People of These United States represents a fundamental misunderstanding of government and how it works.

Re: the classic government vs. business debate (which BTW, sets each up as a straw man to be taken down–they are both so interwoven that to talk about them separately is too simplistic).  Anyway, I have never understood the point of making money for it’s own sake, which is the ultimate end of capitalism and free markets, with the bottom line being that currently, business is performed so that stockholders make money, not so that a service or product is fairly produced and sold.  Costs are trimmed, usually at the expense of the people or product, so that the stockholders can be serviced.

Now, I know you don’t like large business either, because most conservatives, when they are discussing these things, are imagining the corner shoe store, or their own small business.  But we’re moving pretty quickly toward a society in which that’s a quaint notion, so you end up sounding like you’re fighting for large corporate interests who I don’t believe you care for either.  I can’t imagine anyone standing up for enormous box stores like Wal-Mart, etc.

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