Is it wrong to wish on space hardware

24 07 2007

I long ago reconciled myself to the gutting idea that there is no simple way to avoid the need for an income to survive in the world. Now it’s about the faintly ridiculous juxtaposition of meaning in life and earning enough to keep body and soul together.

I never thought public servant as the way to do this. It’s the family business, you know, we’ve been clerks and bureaucrats since the Magna Carta*, but I never thought I’d carry on the administrative tradition. Still, when you’ve been brought up on a steady diet of community outcomes and ethics principles, trying to work in the private sector gives you hives. It’s completely nerdy and naive to admit it, but I love that sense of the greater good they feed you when you are part of the government machine. I’m the loser ranting about transparency and accountability and public good. I believe in that shit. I really do. Not that I’m the only one. But I’m fucking obnoxious about it. Because if you lose sight of that, you may as well go and work somewhere where it’s all about profit margins, right?

But.

On days like today, when I’ve been dashing myself against the cliffs of the bureaucracy, I wonder if it’s just the opiate of the sector. It’s as though my work is split in two. There’s the part I enjoy, where I’m paid to think about ways we can do things to improve people’s lives, and then there’s the part where I have to deal with the higher-level power struggles and manoeuvring that seem the antithesis of anything to do with community outcomes.

My response seesaws between either craving that level of power so I can have greater control, or wanting to wash my hands of the whole shebang. In reality, I just suck it up and get on with my day, with perhaps the occasional vent all over empathetic friends (ta, MsG).

Lan and I have covered this ground before in many sober and wine-filled conversations: how to reconcile working within a flawed system? And the answer she gives me: it’s a balance between trying to change the system and recognising that you have to live (and work) in the system. Or another view, as my pa, who is prone to zen-like moments, says, it’s better to have the good people doing the bad jobs than the bad people doing the bad jobs.

I don’t see what I’m doing as the bad job. Compared to the people I know battling away for a government whose ideology is anathema to theirs, I’m practically in paradise. And am I the good people? Well, it’s all a bit subjective, isn’t it? I work hard and I believe there is more to life than the profit motive. Take that as you will.

My oblique, dooce-aware rant is… I dunno. Perhaps I’m not cut out for this (public service) life. Perhaps I need to lose some innocence, stop trying to see it as the thing it can be and see it as the thing it is. Play the game a bit more.

Ah, but I’m not quite ready to let go of the dream. I believe in it, and it keeps me in beer and skittles. Small men with limited imaginations and excessive personal ambitions are not enough to get me down just yet.



image thanks to waitless

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* or 1947, my grasp of history’s never been that great

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10 responses

24 07 2007
Anonymous

❤ u

24 07 2007
Saturday Night Fiver

The professor who taught my finance subjects made a point of saying: “In my job as an investor, I am creating a public good by accurately pricing companies.” The point is that any endeavour, when carried out ethically and with a view to creating something of value, will provide a public good regardless of a profit motive.I think what it boils down to is simply human nature. If society chooses to have a dedicated bureaucracy, that’s what it will have. To my mind it doesn’t choose this because it has lost its faith. Fight the good fight? There are lost of ways to do that.

24 07 2007
BJ

As someone currently studying political science and hoping to soon break into your world – it’s nice to hear a realistic point of view. If there are people like you working out there, then it gives me some hope. Now i just need a job.

25 07 2007
mangoman

Ah, the memories. Slamming your head into the wall day after day. Great fun. But it is really satisfying when you actually guide something really good through the system and then see the outcome.Public servants who work for the system will always be a problem. Those who work in it to achieve value for the client group and serve the government of the day – they are the ones that we depend on.

25 07 2007
Nabla

I think that I can finally see an advantage to having worked for a bank. The trickle down theory of good things happpening as a result of successful corporate pillage is one of the larger loads of llama shit floating around at the moment, and working as a corporate lackey only reinforces that knowledge.Just be happy that you have me to remind you how much private enterprise sucks – the young lady who recently went to work for a big accounting firm from here is, from all reports, quite dissatisfied with her new job.Perhaps it’s a bit sad that this sort of knowledge is what makes me happy to put up with the incredible amount of whinging and arse licking that goes on in this gubmint thingo, rather than the feeling of doing good, but…meh.So just think back to how much good you did for the world when you were pouring wine for rich tossers – it’ll make you feel better day to day.And it is good that your job enables you to change some stuff and do a bit of good, at least.But so does mine, goddammit! My spreadsheets are tops!!…Bugger it, I’m jumping on govnet.

25 07 2007
Saturday Night Fiver

Maha Sinnathamby, the bloke who built Greater Springfield, once said: “I love the public service. They’re so stupid.” He didn’t see taking advantage of several government departments as unethical, but simply the necessary consequence of the system put in place, in the final analysis, by the voting public. If he didn’t screw the government (and hence us) someone else would.Where this becomes “unethical” is where we have someone treating government departments as simply corporate opponents. My argument is that we ourselves tend nowadays to look upon our government bodies as simply another kind of corporation, rather than as pillars of society. Consequently, can you really call it unethical?I am almost inclined to think people like Sinnathamby are a good thing: sometimes you’ve got to get sick before you can get better.

27 07 2007
The Duck Herder

Sherdie, tell Mangoman that is isnt the BAD people that are the problem, it is of course the STUPID people that are most enraging! STUPID people, walking about being STUPID, they dont even KNOW they are STUPID.anyhoo, no more of that for MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Off to the world of the independent consultant!!! ya ya ya!

27 07 2007
The Duck Herder

PS, keep up the Billy Bragg references – we luv’em!

28 07 2007
IHateToast

would it be petty to suggest looking up fun ways to screw with the small man? aren’t there undetectable laxative like things you can put in his coffee? can’t you put his email on a religious database? i never said i was good. and the pronunciation of the word verification is icky kid (ikykyd). see? destiny to give you bad ideers.

1 08 2007
bros

I love fantasy health minister.I am more addicted to it than crackbook.

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