Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What are public servants for?

James Whelan from the Centre for Policy Development has just written a report on the public sector, called The State of the Australian Public Service: An Alternative Report.

Larvatus Prodeo has a post about it. Several hours after posting, there's one comment. Which rather makes me think people are considerably less fired up about the role of the public service than they are about a wide, wide range of other issues.

Here are some reasons why this might be the case.
  • Public servants are often the ones doing the work that we loathe the government for doing. It's hard to care about people you think are acting wrongly.
  • We take all the good things the public service do for granted because we are utterly used to them being provided with a minimum of fuss (unless we are poor in which case see the point above and imagine dealing with Centrelink on a bad day).
  • Stereotypes about public servants say that we are overpaid, lazy bludgers ripping off the taxpayer*, so it's hard to care about us as people, or acknowledge the work we do.
Larvatus Prodeo asks the question, what are public servants for? I'm looking forward to thinking about that more, but I'm afraid I'm not so clear on the answer. I fear I know quite a bit about what I do, but much less about why and what overall I should be achieving.

I also saw, today, an art work from 2003 that talked about four different models of disability. I know I don't want the public service to be 'for' the administrative model, for people with disability or for anyone else for that matter.

*Incidentally, I love how there is only one taxpayer in some of these discussions. She must be righteously pissed off, I reckon.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Worring and suchlike

Travel insurance is a very good thing, because it means that there are less things to worry about, except you can add worrying about the travel insurance itself if you are a very thorough worrier.

Worrying about work gets into your sleep, until you are dreaming about what the Remuneration Tribunal might do. Which is hardly worth worrying about even when awake, because they just do what they do. Do do do dooby dooby doo.

That wasn't me, by the way, that was my work mate, who is not such a worrier generally.

Other things you can worry about: illness, assignments, money, if the mould can be scraped safely off the jam, global inequalities, missing the bus, whether worrying gives you grey hairs or only wrinkles, warts. Warts are not caused by worrying. There is no such thing as worry warts, whatever people might say.

Global warming is a good worry option, because it introduces a wide range of second-order worries, including worrying about how so many people ended up being idiots. Or maybe that's more of a wondering than a worrying.

You can worry at knitting, but only if you are a small dog in an English story for children. You can worry about time travel, but it never seems to come to much, so maybe worrying works as a prophylactic after all.