Government Work

Fri 22 January 2010 | -- (permalink)

Ben Casnocha says you can find out a lot about a society by asking its youth "Do you want to work for the government?" That leaves me wondering, what exactly do you find out? Some reasons for people to answer "yes":

  1. If a lot of youngsters want to work for the government, maybe that's because there is little opportunity for private employment in the country and the prospect of starting your own successful business is unrealistic.
  2. Along similar lines, in many authoritarian countries "working for the government" may mean you're one of the guys carrying a gun instead of one of the guys with a gun in his face.  Neither sounds very pleasant to me, but I think I'd like to not get shot.
  3. On the other hand if you ask the question in a high-tax, high-service country like Sweden, government workers may be respected as a vital part of society.  In such a country, the person being interviewed is more likely to have a friend or relative that "works for the government."

And reasons to answer "no":

  1. An idealistic youth living in a country with rampant corruption may say "no" in order to express his displeasure with the government.
  2. In a country like the US that lauds personal achievement and entrepreneurism I expect you would hear more "no" answers.

I really think the question needs a follow up "Why, or why not?"