Sunday, October 8, 2017

How government employment can undermine democracy

Citizens in a democracy can criticize their government and its laws without government reprisal.  But what happens when your government is not only the enforcer of law, but also your boss?  Your boss, of course, is less willing to have you in his employ if you are speaking out against him.

I spoke to a young woman who was shortly due to sit examinations to become a judge. She thought there was a good chance that her role in assisting the local [Catalan] referendum process would destroy her chances of becoming a judge, and said that one of her fellow students was too scared to even vote for the same reason.

Of course a judge is an occupation naturally in the public sector, but the point is: the more occupations that are pushed from private to public sector (or any huge employer -- but what private organization employs as many as government?), the more people who are unwilling to speak out against harmful government policies.

1 comment:

Kartik said...

“What I learned from the McCarthy incident was the perils of a one-employer society. When you are blackballed from government employment, there is great safety in the existence of thousands of anonymous employers out there in the market. … To me this became a newly perceived argument, not so much for laissez faire capitalism as, for the mixed economy” (Samuelson 1983c, p. 790, emphasis in the original). From AK Dixit's Annual Reviews article on Samuelson's work.