I was discussing some operations of a government department, recently, and was introduced to the term “Taxpayers Rage”. Although this is a new term to me, it became instantly clear that it means: Rage at seeing or hearing about some of the ways our government dollars are spent. This could be in the form of purchases that made no sense, like a $500 toilet seat or an $8.2 million temporary skating rink. A few more examples can be found here: https://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/99-stupid-things-the-government-did-with-your-money-part-i/

Most government spending makes sense. We need to build and repair our infrastructure, and I’m all for keeping our health care system public instead of private, for example.

But what can we do when we see government spending that makes no sense?

One possibility is for us to call our city councillor, our MLA, or our MP. If we don’t like what they have to say then we can vote on it in the next four years.

But is there something else that we can do?

A number of areas have a government funded ombudsman. This is a person whose job it is to make sure that your complaint is managed through the proper channels. We contact the office of the ombudsman with our issue, and if they aren’t too booked then they take the case and act on it. This fixes the one situation, but doesn’t address the symptom or the system.

Many of our government workers are doing a great job. They are doing their best to provide the best information, or do their best work, or make things the best possible. They are trying to make a positive difference in the lives of all those in Halifax; in Nova Scotia; and in Canada. They still believe in the idea of “public service”.

As with every industry, however, there are some government workers who have lost the idea of “public service”. They are working for their paycheque and their retirement, and their job is just the means to that. They have lost the passion that they need for serving the public.

What we need to do is find a way to restore that passion. We need a way to make sure that our public servants have, at the forefront of their minds, the idea of serving the public. They need to find ways to solve an issue; to make a thing happen; to satisfy a concern.

This happens in the private sector all the time. If you aren’t continually showing why your product or your service is worthy of buying, then your customer will stop buying it.

In the private sector you have to do your best to earn your customer’s dollar.

We are taxed very heavily, and most of that goes to pay public sector employees.

It may sound like the same thing, but instead of our tax dollars going to pay public sector employees, I’d rather have public servants earn our money.

Maybe then — with a sense of receiving a service for our money — fewer of us will experience “Taxpayers Rage”.