Public Service, Equity and Merit

I’ve had enough Bush bashing.

The world of political comment, the blogosphere is humming. It is comforting to know that we Americans, wherever we may be and whatever our political pursuasion, are reclaiming the center of the party of Abraham Lincoln. It may be too late however, to redeem the “silent majority”. Indeed, that great rhetorical invention and group with which my own father so identified, that silent majority has been too long silent. But that is another story…, or is it?

The issue is no longer “get rid of Bush”. A far more pressing issue is to know what lessons we might learn from the mistakes and complacency of the past eight years.

Three lessons appear critical to me. I will deal with each separately over the next few posts.

1) Take the money out of politics. Politics is about community relationships and a shared commitment to the organization of “public services”. Money in politics only begets more money in an endless spiral of influence mongering. Such “influence mongering” is all the more destabilizing when the “civil service” are constrained by short term considerations and serve at executive pleasure.

2) Equity is a core value in any republican democracy. The basic rules of fairness dictate that every man, woman and child should live in equity, in fairness according to his or her just merits. This is a basic tenant of a tolerant, free society and is totally discredited when large portions of society cannot afford access to education, health or legal services. The principle of equitable acces to public services needs to be safeguarded.

3) Recognize and reward achievement. Achievement is personal merit earned by dint of hard work and ingenuity. Our system fails when we confuse “ability to pay” (priviledge) with personal achievement. The two are not related and we all know the difference.

As we reflect upon our responsibility in choosing a course for the United States, let us reflect upon these things and let these become a mantra for 2008: public service, equity and merit.

Leave a Reply