Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Real Public Servants

Put the servitude back in civil service
  (+4, -1)
(+4, -1)
  [vote for,

The old adage says that people who desire public office should be disqualified from it. A law is needed to dissuade absolute narcissists from such service while not explicitly excluding anyone who wishes to serve.

I recommend that all levels of public service (from county treasurer to president) entail a non-trivial amount (40-50 hours a month) of public servitude. I'm talking about the stuff that would qualify as "community service" in most places -- picking up trash, volunteering for the Salvation Army, teaching classes in prison, etc.

The system would have to be set up to keep such service as genuine as possible. Activities that rely on the uniqueness of the individual's office (signing autographs, giving speeches, running fund raisers where they are the main attraction, etc.) would be disqualified from counting towards this service. The politicians would not be able to chose who else they bring to (or exclude from) the event, perhaps except limited security personnel. They would have to vary the organizations they serve with (as well as their location) and mostly stick with well-established organizations (which are not of an explicitly political nature).

Although politicians are known to do such things for photo-ops, I doubt that the truly lowlife types would stick around long enough once this requirement got put in place. Those that do turn whatever they are doing into celebrations of themselves would still serve the symbolic purpose of highlighting various things in the community that need attention beyond what is politically expedient at the moment.

cowtamer, Oct 23 2010


       You seem to be conflating Public Office with Public Service. The two are not the same. So is it elected officials you are targetting here or public service employees as well?
DrBob, Oct 25 2010

       DrBob you're right -- not all public service is public office. This idea is for elected officials, who _should_ want to serve the public. The idea is to disincentivize the corrupt officials whose sole purpose is to live the "Good Life" at the expense of the public.   

       Imagine the most corrupt politician you can think of -- now imagine whether they would have stayed in public office if they knew there was no way around picking up trash or cleaning graffiti a week out of the month :)
cowtamer, Oct 26 2010

       [cowtamer] //if they knew there was no way around picking up trash or cleaning graffiti// A willingness to demean oneself in order to get into office is practically a job requirement already; that would be no deterrant. Or are you suggesting that corrupt politicians loathe physical exertion? True in the day of Taft & Tweed, perhaps, but nowadays? Maybe it's just *honest* labor they abhor.
mouseposture, Oct 26 2010

       What mouseposture said. In essence you are asking just how low someone is prepared to sink in order to gain office. However, this is offset by the fact that they will be doing a 50 hour week of voluntary service and so (hopefully) will have little time or energy left to do any real damage in their elected job. +
DrBob, Oct 26 2010

       Actually [cowtamer] said 50 hours a month, but it's still quite a lot. I'm not sure I'd like to be governed by people who were that desparate for power.
hippo, Oct 26 2010

       Oh yes, so he did. Anyway, why not? You are happy to be treated by doctors who often do rather more hours than that. Politicians might be odious and self-seeking but at least they are not stumbling, exhaustedly towards your anaesthetised body with a bloody scalpel in one hand, a can of Red Bull in the other and a couple of matchsticks propping their eyelids open.
DrBob, Oct 26 2010

       No, it's not the number of hours I'm objecting to but that this scheme doesn't really do what it says it does. It may attract people to public office who are kind and public-spirited (and don't mind sacrificing their free time to do community service), but it may also attract people who are so greedy for power that they see 50 hours of community service a month as a price worth paying to get their sweaty hands on the reins of power.
hippo, Oct 26 2010

       Most people who want to be politicians shouldn't be allowed the opportunity.
infidel, Oct 27 2010


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