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LETTER: Are our politicians our employers or our employees?

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor.

Russell Wangersky asked in his column some time ago why we citizens seem unable to choose politicians who will work for us effectively and serve us well in the governments to which we elect them. I think I may know now the answer to that.

It seems to me that politicians who truly accepted sincerely the role of servants of the public would be consenting to the social status of being “employees of employees,” since most of us ordinary members of the public are in fact employees of others.

I think most candidates for public office aspire to a higher “social status” than that.

They probably aspire to at least the social status of most employers. That most likely means that they must therefore make government into the business of supplying employees to the more primary employers.

And that has become the purpose of government’s providing “education” through a bureaucratic system which becomes less and less educative and more focused on “job training” as time goes.

In order to make sure our politicians were really responsible to us, we should probably have to practice much greater responsibility than we do, in order to recognize that virtue’s absence in others and to remedy that lack, which is most evident in our depending on employers for work to supply money for food to sustain us.

As G.K. Chesterton put it many decades ago, our great commercial and industrial system depends for its success on employees shirking the work they ought to do. This, of course, is unlikely to change while those on whom we most rely for information and for the shaping of public opinion are content to be employed as journalists instead of wishing they were self-sustaining farmers and fishers who could write poetry about farming and fishing or good fiction in which the main characters were farmers or fishers. (“Fishers,” you will note, is the right word. “Fish harvesters” was brought into our language mostly, I think, to make the notion of farming fish sound a little more plausible and so tend to justify “aquaculture,” which seems to make sense only through sounding so much like “agriculture.”)

Colin Burke,
Port au Port

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