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.


  1. We will need to talk about this during your Annual Review.

    More seriously, ask me sometime about my thoughts as a "Job Creator" on how well the definition floating around fits my world. I have a very similar rant!

  2. I could tell you stories...Public sector workers trade a lot for the relative security of many public sector jobs. My experiences have been that most public sector employees go the second mile to help their fellowmen and, in many cases, put their lives on the line for them. Most of these employees are committed to bettering the lives of those around them.

    My question to the person who is complaining is, "What are you doing to better the lives of those around you? Are YOU doing YOUR part?"

    I have a friend with a Masters in Statistics. The most important thing she said she learned was that statistics can be manipulated to show anything the statistian wishes to show. That is scary since people as a whole believe that numbers don't lie.

  3. Rachel and I were just talking about you last night, how every circumstance you write about is such a great piece...and how you make it funny, like 'Dick', but I really don't hear you laughing right now :(


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