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nurembergmapa.jpgThe last time that the Federal government changed, I was working for it. I was a public servant in the Tax Office. I was also quite an active union delegate. And in that capacity, I was attending protest marches which opposed government policy.
After maybe a year, I realised that I couldn’t work for a government in the morning, and attend a protest against that same government in the afternoon. From then, I made the decision to not work for a government I wouldn’t vote for.

As you can imagine, in a city like Rome, where more than half the economy is centred on the government, that restricted my options over the last decade. That is part of the reason I left and went to Jerusalem.

Last night though, I watched Thank You For Smoking. It’s a crap movie, I wouldn’t recommend it. But in it, there was a line that so many of the world’s evils have been done in the name of paying the mortgage. So much of what we do which we wouldn’t otherwise is done simply in the pursuit of a pay-cheque.

When I returned to Rome, and began looking for work, some employment agencies found it odd that I told them I wouldn’t work for certain government departments. I wouldn’t work for Immigration (the worst of the worst!), Workplace Relations, Defence. Mainly because these organisations – under the Howard regime – were guilty of the worst crimes against the citizenry. Too many Romans though view their work as “I’m doing what I’m told” or “I’m just implementing the government policy”.

Where does collaboration end? And how deep do we have to be in before we can no longer rely on the Nuremberg defence?

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7 Comments

  1. I liked the “yuppie nuremberg defence” part of that film. Been waiting for a chance to use it though. 🙂

    I’ve decided I can’t work for anywhere that does security checks (acronym security places). I can’t agree with what they do, or that all the people I know have to be under the microscope for me to get a job.

    People think this is silly, that I should get over myself and work there. But it seems odd, working for a place you hate the actions of. It would make you complicit, but people don’t see a problem.

  2. Sclozza, that’s exactly the kind of thing I mean – I can’t fathom how people can work in jobs where they act against their own belief structures.
    But where does one draw the line?

  3. The Hun won’t work for Defence which has limited his career options – preferring a certain engineering stream. Though it has got to the point where he may not have a choice.

    I’m lucky in that the Dept I work for is pretty much only involved in good things.

    Does the change in government mean you can now work for any department? ;o)

  4. I wouldn’t work for Immigration either.

    Although it’s not always so clear cut. A friend of mine went to work for ATSIC and ATSIC was abolished and her job moved to immigration, and she did stay there.

    And I did go and work for Defence during the recession we had to have when it was very hard to get a job anywhere else. I guess we all have a price (or I do.)

  5. Where to draw the line, that is a tricky one. Could easily fall into an area of moral relativism. Maybe many people just don’t care? Or see that their actions are so far disconnected from the actual outcome that they can BS themselves into thinking they aren’t really acting in an evil way?

  6. Well, I work for DEWR (Employment & Workplace Relations) however I don’t work in the policy section. Branding an entire department on the basis of one area’s output is a little too generalistic. There are areas of the department which are doing some really positive things to help people find work and help companies find and train good workers. Where I work, we work directly with industries to help them develop strategies to meet their labour needs. I don’t see that as a negative thing at all.

  7. Reminds me of the T-shirt slogan “What about all the good things the Nazis did?”


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