‘You better listen to me because I pay your salary. I’m your boss!’
It would be hard to count how many times police and other public servants have had this argument levelled at them.
It’s one of those things that sounds true but has no basis in reality. Your taxes don’t go specifically to pay any one person’s salary but are used for all sorts of government services, including paying for the system of employees whose job it is to provide services.
The phrase public servant is misleading, to begin with. Servant, in this case, does not mean some sort of paid slave, but rather a paid employee of the state, charged with developing and delivering public programs or services.
The state refers to all of us as a whole. Can you imagine the chaos if cops were required to take orders from any and all taxpayers? You would simply have to order the officer not to write you a speeding ticket, and then that would be that.
A criminal, with his ill-gotten gains on the back seat of a car, could pull the boss card and order an officer not to search the car.
Some would like to include elected officials in the public servant category, with the idea that trustees, councillors etc. are directly responsible to implement their individual whims.
Political types are elected to lead, not to be employees. They are there, even those elected by a particular constituency, to make decisions based on what is best for the entire community.
So the next time you threaten a politician/public employee with “I’m your boss” or “I pay your salary,” be ready for a more truthful statement in return from them, something such as: “You elected me to serve the interests of the whole community, not your personal whim and bias.”
Black Press Media