Monday, May 6, 2013

On the Need to Annoy Politicians

It is very important that politicians should not live comfortably. Those who would take our money and our liberty must be constantly reminded that these things are ours, and not theirs. I do not advocate violence, of course, at least not in democracy, but turning up in a group in public places, to annoy them, bother them, discomfit them, remind them that they are supposed to work for us, and that their power is ours, delegated to them for specific purposes, and that they answer to us, is necessary. They must not be allowed to forget it. It doesn't matter whether you agree with whatever the protest is about, or with the exact motivation of those carrying out 'escrache', 'acoso', recently in the name of those who haven't paid their mortgages, but as long as their behaviour remains within certain bounds, we should applaud them, for they are carrying out the vitally important act of making our rulers' lives more uncomfortable.

The same applies, to a certain extent, to civil servants also. I will recognise that there is a considerable difference of degree, since they are, on the whole, simply trying to make a living like the rest of us and happen to have found that particular path. Some of them are even useful to us, rather than to the government.

But having acknowledged these points, they are people who have chosen to work for the government,* which pays them with our money. They do not answer to us, they answer to other people like themselves, and we have almost no power boycott them, as we would a professional or company who hadn’t served us well, or we simply didn’t need. We have nowhere else to go. Whether we want to use them or not, whether they are necessary to the public that pays them or not, whether they are competent at what they do or not, they are paid by us, but they do not serve us. None of them create employment. Very few of them are directly productive. Most do not even contribute, very indirectly, to the growth of the economy. They pay no tax, of course, they are a great financial burden to us and most of those who are useful to us rather to those who make and enforce the rules perform their functions in a very inefficient way because of the structure and regulation of their organizations.

They are different from those of us who produce things, are paid voluntarily by people using their own money, pay tax allow the political employment to exist in the first place. I do not advocate harassment of civil servants, but I see no reason why their anomalous position should not be mentioned from time to time, and kept before the general public and themselves.

*No, I haven’t come over all paranoid. The older I get (the less young, shall we say), the more I realize that politicians are not doing it for me, or for you, or for the country or its people. Therefore they should be encouraged to do as little as possible, and to answer for what they do do. Nothing should be easy or comfortable for them. Everything I do in my work is open to the scrutiny and criticism of my employees and my clients, and they exercise that privilege whenever they think it appropriate to do so. This is, on the whole, a good thing, and I see no reason why those who pay the politicians and the government employees should not exercise the same privilege, with the same benefits for us all.

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