Question Prompted by the Government “Shutdown”

by Don Boudreaux on October 4, 2013

in Myths and Fallacies, Other People's Money

If people who work for government truly are public servants – as they are often called, and as they often call themselves – then why do they stop serving the public when the public stops paying them?  Asked differently: if government workers stop working at their government jobs when, and for as long as, taxpayers stop paying them to work at those jobs, in what relevant ways do government workers differ from private-sector workers – say, from employees of McDonalds or Ikea or Apple or Wal-Mart or the Red Top Taxicab Co.?

If government workers deserve to be called “public servants,” then let’s also call employees of McDonalds and other private companies “public servants.”  These private-sector workers work, at helping their employers please consumers, when their employers pay them and stop working when their employers stop paying them – just like public-sector workers.

I leave it to you, dear Cafe patrons, to explain in the comments section why employees of private companies actually are more deserving than are government workers to boast the title “public servants.”

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