April 29, 2009

U.S. Public Service Academy

THE U.S. Public Service Academy will be the civilian counterpart to the military service academies, a flagship institution designed to build a "more perfect union" by developing leaders of skill and character dedicated to service in the public sector. At the Academy, more than 5000 students will get a federally-subsidized undergraduate education focused on service and leadership development, followed by five years of service in public sector jobs following graduation. The Academy will develop a new generation of top-quality civilian leaders and will help transform the way Americans perceive, prepare for, and pursue public service.

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3 comments:

Chris Myers Asch said...

Thanks for plugging the Public Service Academy, Warren. I hope your readers will get involved in our effort to build the "civilian West Point"!

CVASchmidt said...

Wow. It boggles my mind that someone could propose, with a straight face, that America needs civil servants even more detached from regular people, and even more privileged.

That's an aristocracy, not a democracy, and it is not a precursor of good or responsive government, despite the best intentions of the proposers. History is clear upon this point. Power corrupts.

One Skull and Bones is enough.

The military academies don't pose the same problem because their graduates don't rule over the rest of society. Their graduates can't grant themselves ever greater privileges and immunities, and help themselves to an ever increasing share of others' earnings.

Graduates of a "public service academy" obviously could, and would.

—Christopher ("fitted for Publick employment both in Church and Civil State" —just like our last president!)

CVASchmidt said...

I later realized that I left the central premise of my comment unstated:

We already have any number of universities founded for the express purpose of training graduates for public service (among them, Yale).

Given the degree to which those exhibit the problems of elitism (overconfidence, cronyism, exclusivity, self-serving performance, etc.), the idea of a "public service academy" equivalent to West Point is frightening, because all of those tendencies would be intensified in isolation.

I got a taste of this from a conversation I had as a student, with the recently retired ambassador to the Soviet Union. I told him that I was considering a career in the foreign service (7% of whose officers were alumni of my college), and he candidly advised me that I would be dogged at every step in my proposed career because I hadn't attended the "right" school (Georgetown, if I recall correctly), so I would alway be an outsider.

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