Doug Bandow Quote

“Being paid by the government to shelve books in a library, whether as an employee or as an Americorps member, is no more laudable or valuable than being paid by Crown Books to stock bookshelves in a bookstore. A host of private-sector jobs provide enormous public benefits—consider health care professionals, medical and scientific researchers, entrepreneurs, inventors, and artists. Many of these people earn less than they could in alternative work; they have chosen to serve in their own way. Yet government programs that equate public employment with service to society effectively denigrate service through private employment.”

~ Doug Bandow

National Service -- or Government Service?, Policy Review, p. 34, September-October, 1996

Ratings and Comments

Mann, Kalamazoo

What a bunch of unmitigated hooey! As if a public librarian, one who stores, classifies and organizes the accumulated knowledge of millenia, for the purpose of free access by ANYONE, even one so lowly as a soul unable to afford a purchase at Crown Books, may be so easily dismissed. The Cato Institute has its own very impressive collection of references/libraries and people responsible for them, completely belying this idiotic comparison. I truly wonder what the Doug Bandows of this country would do if they suddenly found themselves without the garbage collectors, road laborers, oilfield roughnecks, roofer-types keeping them dry and especially the farmers. I suspect they wouldn't last two weeks without the entire collection of faceless, continuously devalued and undervalued people doing the ACTUAL WORK of keeping them afloat. Is there a negative rating available?

Cal, lewisville, tx

What he means Mann is that with the benefits and salary charged to the taxpayer, most public workers are better paid than private ones.

Anonymous, Reston, VA, US

I've worked for gov & for profit private & non-profit private, and by far the best compensation package (both in terms of pay and benefits) has been in for profit private industry, with neither of the alternatives coming even close to matching what our for profit folks pay. And yet, it is at those very same for profit private companies that I have found the least innovative and under motivated employees... Mann's got it right, public libraries are indeed a noble enterprise compared to the large book store chains.

H Rearden, Burr Ridge

Exactly right - the "servants" have becme the masters thanks to our public sector unions. Are teachers professionals or not? What other professional group - doctor, lawyer , architect uses a union? Are teachers doing blue collar dangerous work like miners? Can the customer go to a competitor if the union forces the prices too high? The customer can go to an alternative coal mine if the union demands force the prices to skyrocket. The taxpayers are a captive market since they cannot opt out of paying their propertytaxes, or directing the funds to private or parochal schools.

E Archer, NYC

Obviously, the thumbs-downers are beneficiaries of government largess merely defending their hand-outs. The quote does not say that librarians are superfluous, what it is saying is that a government job is no more laudable than a private job. As well, a government job is no more a 'service to society' than is a baker or farmer. The idea that government is the benefactor to all is a bunch of hooey -- the government is a parasite that does nothing but plunder and make false promises and false claims. They make war upon ALL they can, at home and abroad. That is what 'service to society' they provide.


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