As you teach in your books and podcasts, to have money in my wallet is a sign that I pleased another human being, a sign of clear virtue. Since I work in private sector, I hold this to be self evident.
This clarity got severely shaken by a friend of mine. He has recently graduated, master in chemistry. Despite his little experience he cashes in extraordinary sums of money. How? Simple, he has 4 parallel jobs, all of them for the government funded university. These jobs are not demanding at all, while averagely paid. Since nearly NO results are required of him, he can manage 4 of them at the same time. Although averagely paid, four times average is still a great deal of money. And yes, it is legal.
What bothers me is, how does he know he pleased another human being? The university spends public money and cares not for the results as long as the money is spent. How should we look at the usefulness of government paid employees?
This example is from Europe, where about 50% of all the transactions are government related. There is a great deal of people who make their living this way.
May the lord bless you,
I (Rabbi Daniel Lapin) frequently speak in public about money. I sometimes ask everyone to take out a dollar bill and hold it in the air. I then ask anyone who got that dollar by mugging a little old lady on the way to my talk to put it away. I then ask those who got the dollar by robbing a convenience store to put it away as well. The rest of the people, I say, can know that they got the money by pleasing another person.
I’m going for a certain dramatic effect when I speak rather than compiling an exhaustive list of every exception to the rule. You are raising one of the exceptions. There are certainly people who work for government or heavily government supported institutions, whether in the United States or in other countries, who are hard-working, responsible people of integrity. However, because it is almost impossible to be fired from many of these positions and because, too frequently, government departments do not have to show value in order to be funded with money confiscated forcibly from citizens through taxes, these employees do little more than waste or misuse taxpayer money. Their paychecks are not connected to pleasing any other person, other than a supervisor, who is also part of the same corrupted system of growing government.
We personally know a few people who were hired for government positions and left these well-paying and very cushy jobs with great benefits because they found them to be soul-sucking. They were discouraged from working hard or doing valuable work and felt their spirits being corroded by the time they wasted simply putting in their hours. This isn’t automatically true for government supported employees—active military obviously aren’t paid enough—but it sounds like your friend falls into this category. He is, in effect, participating in the legally sanctioned stealing of money from tax-paying citizens. But as you sagely say, it is all legal. Which makes one think, doesn’t it? A number of the early founders of America recognized that society’s laws only work if the populace is composed of good and moral people. Without a majority of people having internal controls and self-regulation, a legal system cannot make for a successful society.
You are correct to feel that a side effect of your friend’s employment is to make those of us who do work hard for our money and who run the risk of losing jobs or businesses if we do not give value, feel dispirited.
The bottom line is that it is good to be able to look at oneself in a mirror, and see an honorable face.
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin