Monday, September 5, 2011
On Privacy and the Public Employee
A couple of weeks ago, my local paper, the Dayton Daily News, did a story on what area college presidents earn. As an adjunct to the story, they published a link to an earnings search website.
On this site, you can enter part or all of someone's name, their position and the college they work at and the site will return their earnings last year.
In case your curiosity was sufficient to make you track down the website and look me up, I should note that I started mid-year, so the figure listed is not an accurate reflection of my salary. Likewise, a couple of guys I work with teach one or two classes each quarter, so their numbers would be inflated.
But this story wasn't about providing accurate information. It was about pandering to the current sense of public outrage over how our tax money is spent. It was about emphasizing that, as a public employee, I am accountable to every Tom, Dick and Harry who pays taxes. (Especially the Dicks.) It was about reminding me that one of the things I give up to be a public employee and work for what I believe to be the greater good is the privacy taken for granted by people who work for the private sector.
I feel a little like a policeman must when he pulls someone over for speeding only to be read a lecture on how the driver pays his salary.
And it fascinates me that the very same people who are screaming to reduce the size of government are simultaneously screeching about how unemployment is growing.
What did they think would happen?
I don't mind being a public employee. I'm even willing to put up with the lack of privacy that's part of working for the public.
But I'm not crazy about having so many bosses.