Colander Accuses Kettle of Not Holding Water (Also Black Adds the Pot)
Posted by PintofStout on July 22, 2007
The story of how I ended up in my current job situation is one of circumstance and whim more than strategic planning and hard work. I‘ll give the short version for background, but this is not what this entry is supposed to be about. This is a defense of me, my thoughts, and my actions for those who question the logic, consistency, or hypocrisy of my life and my beliefs out of curiosity or malice. It’s also something I’ve meant to address here for my own sake. Is it hypocritical to tilt against the state and turn around and collect a paycheck indirectly from government?
This blog as a whole is a pretty clear picture of what my beliefs are. In brief, they would be pretty vehemently anti-state. But I’ve also elucidated the difference between principals-in-thought and principals-in-action and disdained an inconsistent (when convenience allows) moral code. Yet, as a friend pointed out in a long-awaited comment to my blog, I work in a job heavily saturated in public money.
I work as a technician in the creation, use, and maintenance of geographic information systems (GIS). It is a job I came to by way of land surveying, a long way around from a physics degree. After four years in windowless classrooms, planetariums, insomniatic-alcoholic depressions, and suffering from severe burnout I realized that the sun on my face felt pretty good and took an interest in geology. So in the fall immediately following my graduation I started classes in undergraduate geology. When I needed to actually be a productive member of society (and eat) I took a job at a surveying and engineering company that, I remembered from an eighth grade field trip, worked with many coal and limestone mines in the area. I figured that job would put me close to the geology. In a few months I stopped taking classes and was working full time learning land surveying and CAD.
During the course of working with GPS control points and large bits of geographically-oriented borehole data I saw the utility of a database linking information to location. Subsequently, I read about GIS and became interested. I happened to mention this interest in an interview at another firm and found myself their GIS guy six months later, learning on-the-fly. I’m still in that position today and sometimes remember longingly the feel of the sun on my face.
All of that bumbling into this profession happened before I had ever had a thought of politics, philosophy, or practically anything discussed on this blog. My convictions, once found, became stronger and stronger, and I questioned regularly my role in the system I hoped to be rid of. I work in a private firm who has many municipal clients for which we perform engineering services for. Those services range from road resurfacing programs to park design and regulatory compliance to development plan review; all the stuff a full-time elected municipal engineer would do. I happen to work mainly in storm and sanitary sewer mapping, inventory management, and regulatory compliance. Local governments or authorities own these sewers and my pay is coming mostly from them. I guess that makes me a hypocrite, right? I don’t think so.
There are certain extremes one can take to avoid mixing any portion of their lives with that of some arbitrary state or governmental authority, but they are just that – extreme. I still drive on the roads, which are owned mostly by government. When a particular good or service is forcefully monopolized by the government, it doesn’t decrease the need for such things. Without a completely self-sufficient withdrawal from society, wholly unmixing one’s self from government is impossible and getting harder. I could probably change jobs or professions and have less involvement in the operation of government. If only my talents lay elsewhere, I could be a lawyer or a doctor or a teacher…no, wait. All those fields are regulated and partially monopolized by the government. I could have remained in the field of physics and continued my education to work for the military industrial complex. The truth is even if I were to make my living rallying or writing tomes against the state, my job would still exist because of the state. Regulations governing the conveyance and treatment of sewage or the ownership by coercive government of such systems are no more the cause of my job than they are the cause of my excrement.
It is bordering on the impossible to completely separate oneself from aspects of the permeating, all encompassing state. This could be because in the sad majority of people we interact with the state is in their mind, their thoughts, their subconscious, and in their very essence whether they know it or not. Thought outside of such a situation is unfathomable for them. It’s this pervasiveness that allows the state to move freely among us and expand its reach without so much as a raised eyebrow. Regardless of what job one holds, chances are taxes will be taken out (isn’t the phrase tax deduction rather ironic?) or that the salary would be paid with fiat FRNs. It is a sad state of affairs that depresses me constantly to be under a thumb I cannot escape without the near certainty of ultimate sacrifice. Rather than giving up and running for political office, I try to reduce my footprint inside the jackboot of state as much as I can without completely sacrificing my quality of life. Afterall, I’m here to live and experience not to simply sacrifice that goal in the name of trying to destroying an evil institution; the two don’t always overlap, but not for lack of trying.
A vital part of the above-stated goal requires the acquisition and use of resources, which nowadays means having a job. It also helps to avoid the jackboots of government in the process. The manner in which I’ve gone about avoiding the donning of those black boots of shiny, shiny leather while maintaining my job has been to try and remain in areas that aren’t strictly governmental (thuggish) in nature. Like so many other fields that exist inside of or are regulated by government, the field I practice would exist outside of government if it were possible. Sewers don’t exist because of government; they exist because they are needed. Like my friend who is a teacher, I do my job because I find value in that job, not because I wish to prop up a state. If it were possible to live and work in a free place I surely would, but for now I can only make a conscious effort to withdraw my support from the state while doing what must be done to function.
I hope my reasoning is sound enough for any would-be critics. Though the criticisms and questions will certainly keep coming, I take comfort in knowing they only spring from the intensity of my non-compromising convictions. If I rode the fence and waited to compromise my positions based on different situations, there would be nothing to criticize. I get the feeling most that would level the charge of hypocrisy against me would have no convictions to examine. So until critics have the courage of solid conviction and can think outside of the hamster wheel of the state paradigm, their questions of my courage will pass unnoticed into the very noise that helps to disguise the lie of a necessary state.