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People who work for the government work for us – the taxpayers. Ultimately, we’re their bosses. I know, based on some interactions you have with your employees it seems that they conveniently forget this fact.

Be that as it may, it truly works much the same as any business. We, the tax-paying bosses, produce revenue so that they have a job. This goes for everyone who is collecting a government paycheck, from President all the way down to administrative support staff in the smallest municipality in the nation.

Of course, the one biggest difference is that you, the taxpayer, can’t immediately fire these employees for poor performance. Imagine how different your last unsatisfactory interaction with a taxpayer paid employee would have been if you could fire those who don’t meet your level of expectation. Sure, you’re probably thinking, “I can fire the elected ones.” But, the thing is that particularly type of firing is a delayed action. The underlying reason the individual is losing their job is not apparent in that type of firing.

It’s kind of like housebreaking a dog. If you scold the dog after the fact for eliminating in the home, it will not equate the reprimand with the actual act of relieving itself in the home. For that to happen, you actually have to catch the dog in the act and show your displeasure. Same thing with elected folks on the taxpayer payroll. When they get reprimanded (read: the boot out of the door), they think it has something to do with changes in the political wind. They rarely think it is because of their repeated poor job performance.

Ok, so our system isn’t perfect. No news on that front. But, the system we’ve had in place is still better than any other around the world. Or, at least it had been. There wasn’t immediate accountabilty, but until recently there had been some semblance of accountability. For example, until recently, our employees felt obligated to provide us information when we requested. An obligation that is legally mandated.

I said until recently. Now, it appears even that level of accountability is going by the wayside:

Days after a spokesman for Gov. Bill Richardson told a TV reporter that it was “not appropriate or dignified” to identify the 59 political appointees who are losing their jobs, Richardson’s office has formally denied a newspaper reporter’s request for that information.

The Santa Fe New Mexican’s Kate Nash didn’t get much – including anything that identifies the people who are being laid off – in response to her request.

Reporters, who happen to be taxpayers as well, have historically taken the role of internal audit committee for our, the taxpayers, business. In other words, they’ve looked out for our interests. However, if we allow them to be shut out and denied information about who is or isn’t working for us at a given time, then we stop having any sort of control over our government employees and officials. When this happens, those folks no longer work for us as public servants. Instead, we work for them in a manner very reminiscent of feudal fiefdoms in days of old.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of becoming a serf is not particularly appealing to me.