Russian’s non-Putin President Dmitry Medvedev (aka President Placeholder) met with a group of small-businessmen in Moscow over the summer to discuss their challenges. One can only imagine where to start. So Medvedev, according to state news agency RIA Novosti, offered some direction: “The youth believe that [the civil service] is an example of how to be successful quickly without the need to apply any effort.” He suggested that a bureaucratic career could lead to the kind of corrupt mentality that would lead to kids looking to score a quick and easy ruble.
“And this is not because I dislike civil servants,” Medvedev added. “On the contrary, their work is helpful for any state. Is this a prestigious profession? Not really. Is it well-paid? Well, [it pays] very badly.”
What does Medvedev think he’s doing? Having the populace employed by the state has traditionally been an effective way for Communist governments to secure their control over a people. Granted, driving kids away from the civil service toward the private sector within a Communist structure only shifts government expenditures from one pocket to the other. The Russian government still owns the large private companies. So then what’s the difference to them? Why is Medvedev bothering to symbolically make this distinction in denouncing the federal bureaucracy? The answer to this question is highly instructive to those of us in the Western world, particularly as we implode economically under the weight of public-sector costs, among other things.
Even in a Communist system, there is a difference between a civil-service payroll and a state-owned business payroll. That difference is productivity. The Russian civil service and desk-jockey brigade aren’t selling or exporting anything. The public sector isn’t creating any value or wealth. By contrast, Russian state-owned businesses are producing things and selling them in the international marketplace. Kremlin-funded oligarchs are tasked with investing the profits derived from the riches of these companies in various Western interests, thereby profiting from our capitalist system. In essence, if you look at it this way, Western capitalism drives the Russian economy, and productive wealth-creation is not accomplished by public-sector bureaucrats. Even in a Communist state, they have figured out which pocket constantly needs replenishing by the other. The more workers they can have creating wealth, the better off they’ll all be.
Compare Medvedev’s drive to reduce civil-service bureaucracy with President Barack Obama’s efforts. Last December, for example, he signed a bill to increase civil-service telework. In order to ensure that the federal government wouldn’t lose any more great talents to private sector wealth-creation and gross domestic product augmentation efforts, he colluded with his fellow Democrats to find a way to let bureaucrats “work” from home in their favorite jammies and from the comfort of their favorite Posturepedic mattress.
Working from home is one of those things that you only really ought to be doing if you’re driven by survival. No one with a comfortable reliable salary and without the constant pressure of having to deliver results should ever be allowed to work from bed—and that especially means civil servants.
Even the legislators knew where this law was headed before they passed it, prohibiting telework when “the employee has been officially disciplined … for viewing, downloading or exchanging pornography, including child pornography, on a Federal Government computer or while performing official Federal Government duties.”
And while Russia is trying to discourage the most talented kids away from a career in government bureaucracy and toward something more productive, the Democrats are doing the exact opposite in America. When the Telework Enhancement Act was passed, House Oversight And Government Reform Committee Chairman, Ed Towns (D.-N.Y.), said, “It promotes a healthy work-life balance for federal employees, and will help the government recruit the best and brightest into the civil service.”
At what point did America and Russia switch brains?