The stigma that is government

It’s not easy working in government because most people there work for their benefit.

In a democracy, government employees and elected officials should serve the country by serving the people they represent. It’s the banner ad. It’s what is written in the common law and many written laws.

However, this is not the case on the field. Government offices still have some form of hierarchy, and like medieval monarchies, those at the top still command those at the bottom, despite the outward claims otherwise.

There are two ways one can work in government. One could either be an elective official or a civil servant. Elective officials are the politicians we elect to run the various government offices. Civil servants are your regular employees who work in these offices.

While they both exist to serve the people, elective officials are more powerful than civil servants. They run the nation. They make and enforce laws. Civil servants are the “arms” and “legs” of these elective officials.

On the flip side, elective officials, ideally, should only be in power for a short amount of time. There’s this adage that “power corrupts.” That’s why there are term limits for elective official positions. It’s written in the law. If one wants to be an elective official after their term has expired, they will have to appeal to the people again by asking to be elected.

Civil servants, on the other hand, are tenured workers. They are “employees” of the government. So, as employees, they are not bound by the term limits that constrain elective officials. But unlike elective officials, they do not hold as much power in theory.

Elective officials “rule.” Civil servants “serve.”

Elective Officials

We have this stigma that we owe politicians whatever we have in the community, whether aid during calamities, a new public park, a new mall, a newly paved road, or whatever. It’s like they “gave” these things to us when, strictly speaking, they are only the “brokers” between us and the service providers.

In a true democracy, we, the people, are the rulers. They are mere servants, and we only empower them to “represent” us in dealing with other entities that are otherwise too much to deal with as a collective body. So, they are only doing what we expect them to do.

The money they use to fund these projects is tax money – money collected from the people. It’s our money. We just handed it over to them so they can work to serve us.

We don’t owe them anything. They owe us everything.

But while that’s all good in political science theory, it’s not the case in the field.

Civil Servants

Government leaders are not treated as leaders but as managers and bosses. Rank and file employees look up to them and are technically at their mercy. Their clients, the common man, have to go through tons of bureaucracy to meet and air their concerns to them. It’s like a monarchy all over again.

Unlike elective positions, civil service positions are far more coveted. This is because if you are a civil servant, your employer is the government, which is by far the most stable employer in most countries. Governments rarely go bankrupt, so you enjoy the security of tenure.

Also, as I mentioned above, your service is not limited by the term limits imposed by laws. You are guaranteed job stability until the mandatory retirement age. Unless you are removed from office, voluntarily resign, get disabled, or die. You could lose your job in other ways like your government unit getting dissolved. But the chances of that happening within your tenure are slim.


I don’t know. I was a civil servant, a state university lecturer tasked with honing the country’s youth. One could argue that it is a very noble profession, and indeed, it has its moments. However, government-sponsored academia is not very different from the typical civil service rife with bureaucracy, red tape, and, in some cases, outright corruption, which is one of the reasons why I left.

I liked to believe that I was a self-righteous individual, the hero of my own story who is more often than not on the right. I was presented with three options: Leave, Live, or Lay.

I could leave the organization if I cannot sway them over to my side.

Alternatively, I could keep living that life until they eventually relent and agree to my idealism.

Or I could lay down my arms and let them have their way with me.

In other words, I could either leave, effectively convince them to “improve,” or be convinced to adopt their ways of thinking. I left.