Why do so many eager, fresh-faced intelligent young graduates take their hard-earned degrees (I'm talking here about those few who do work hard, and can parse sentences) and with the whole world as their oyster and opportunity their friend, choose instead to take up a comfortable berth in the civil service -- where instead of being productive themselves, they spend their time, energy and intelligence devising schemes that get in the way of those who are?
Why the hell do they do this?
Sure, there's money involved -- with Wellington wages in the last few years going through the roof compared to other regions, it's easy to see that. But even if you choose to ignore where that money comes from and how it's extracted from those who produced it -- even if you choose to ignore that you're a parasite on those whose productivity your own work is daily diminishing -- you must know that sort of money won't last, and even if it did, does it pay for a life of soul-destroying boredom in places where incompetence and sloth are a way of life?
What sort of person gives up a life of productivity and profit-making for a career in the bureaucracy and a gold watch on retirement, and why? Because of some sort of mission? Do they think that bureaucrats move the world by the simple expedient of getting in our way? -- which, let's face it, is all they're able to do with distinction.
It sure beats the hell out of me, and maybe some bureaucrats who've voluntarily grasped the poisoned chalice can post your own reasons in the comments, but Jeff Scialabba suggests it's because of a phony dichotomy between profits and 'public service' -- a dichotomy that a new ethic of sacrifice is encouraging, at least in the U.S. In his post The Next Hot Career Choice: Self-Immolation posted at The Undercurrent, he notes that
terms like “giving back”, “public service”, and “helping others” make self-sacrifice palatable, and sidestep the fact that careers in the public sector are predominately low-paying, emotionally straining, and offer little chance of professional advancement. Those who argue in terms of the false alternative between pursuing wealth vs. serving the community ignore the real issue: career as personal fulfillment vs. career as self-sacrificial duty.
So why would anyone advocate this false alternative? Why do university administrations and career counselors frame the issue in terms of wealth vs. service? They frame it in this way because it is precisely self-sacrifice that they want to push. The moral ideal they advocate is not to help others, but to sacrifice oneself in the helping of others.
[But] if the good of others is truly the public service pushers’ goal, then why do they decry business as antagonistic to their mission? As evidenced by profit-seeking businessmen throughout history, an individual’s selfish pursuit of wealth in a capitalist society raises the level of prosperity of others ... consider Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, two giants of capitalism that have had a profoundly beneficial impact on the way we live. How many products and services remain in existence for you to enjoy because of the savvy investments of Mr. Buffett? How many jobs have been created? How much more productive is the world because of the growth of the personal computer, initiated and guided by Mr. Gates? How many lives have been saved by the technological advancements the computer has fostered?
Yet at what point were Gates or Buffett ever upheld as models of moral action? Despite bettering the lives of billions through the selfish, insatiable pursuit of wealth, never was so much praise reaped upon them as when they chose to give their earnings away, when they turned away from practical action undertaken for the benefit of their own lives and chose to sacrifice that wealth for the good of others...
If there is a good and valid selfish reason to pursue a career as a parasite, then it sure as hell escapes me. But to choose to be a parasite as a means of “giving back”, “public service”, and “helping others” is to stretch the English language too far, and to overlook that, as Mr Scialabba concludes "it is not kindness, not generosity, not good will towards others that the public-service pushers proselytize to students. It is sacrifice—the sacrifice of their goals, their dreams, their values. Students should answer these calls for self-sacrifice with a resounding 'No,' and should get on with the business of choosing whichever career they find most personally rewarding."