This is one of the more interesting posts I have read on the US elections and I wonder how similar the statistics would be in the UK. Libertarians and small state conservatives tend to generalise about public servants in negative terms, but the author Pete Peterson makes the point that:
...it might serve Republicans better to take a “don’t hate the player, hate the game” approach to their attacks on government spending. The attention should move from the personal to the systemic—to bureaucracy—and its naturally problematic qualities.It's fair enough to complain about useless, pointless jobs in the public sector, and even more so about "public service" jobs that actually harm the public. That doesn't mean our fellow-citizens who do them are themselves useless, pointless or deliberately harmful.
Some public sector jobs actually attract people with conservative, if not libertarian, values. Think of policemen, soldiers and - well there must be a third category even if it doesn't immediately spring to mind. While joining the judiciary sadly appeals to some busybodies and even authoritarians, the role of judge is - especially in a Common Law system where the law did not originate as a tool of government - a public service job that suits libertarians. Indeed the role of the judges in upholding the Rule of Law against the over-mighty in government and business should attract them.
The statistics in the linked post even suggest that American public servants are not as pro-Big Government as their own self-interest might seem to dictate.
61 percent of the government employees surveyed ... agreed with the statement that “the federal government has become a special interest group that looks out primarily for its own interests.” While not as high as the response by private sector respondents (74 percent agreed) this is still a revealing admission.Even more encouragingly:
...more than half of both public and private sector workers “believe government and big business work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors.” And 59 percent of government employees surveyed agreed that they “trust the judgment of the American people over political leaders.”What results would a similar poll in Britain produce?
Less surprisingly, American public servants are more likely to vote than their private sector counterparts. Some of this can be accounted for by demographics. Public servants there tend (wastefully) to be better educated than the general population and the more educated an American is, the more likely he is to vote. The rest may be accounted for by a desire to influence government to spend more, but America's public sector vote at least is not uniformly leftist. President Obama's lead among the 21.7 million American public servants is only one million. If Romney stopped bashing bureaucrats, who knows how that might change?
When the glad day dawns on which the state begins to downsize, we can confidently expect the attitudes of public servants to harden. Until the benefits for employment of setting the people free become clear, people will be understandably afraid of losing their jobs. Still, if we are to persuade our fellow-citizens along that path (and as libertarians we have no resort to our opponents' beloved violence, so persuasion is our only weapon) we might do well to play the ball not the man when it comes to discussing the public sector.