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Re: Speaking out

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On 11/18/2009 09:29 AM, Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl <astaneh(--nospam--at)ce.berkeley.edu> wrote:

> Dear Bill: Thanking for your thoughtful comments and observations, I 
> respectfully disagree with your assessment that in our profession " 
> ..the notion of rendering public service without emolument is now 
> quaint, and went away a couple of generations ago. ".  In my opinion 
> 99.99 percent of individuals involved in my profession are honest and 
> honorable people and  this percentage of us do public service without 
> emolument.

Hassan, I understand your point but consider:

A few generations ago, "public service" was something a distinguished gentleman (or gentlelady) did because it was expected, as a way of giving back to a society whose gifts of liberty and opportunity had made possible an abundant life.

It was something you laid aside your life and life's work to do, literally serving with sacrifice as a noble gesture.

While there are still many who possess at least a semblance of that ideal, they tend by nature to be one of the "thousand points of light" rather than a high-profile "public servant," helping with MathCounts, say, or serving on water boards and such.

But the political class, and their cronies such as the members of the many "advisory boards" such as the one you cite, rarely do anything out of the goodness of their hearts. There's always a substantial benefit for them.

Once it was enough for a philanthropist to see his name above the main entry of a new library building. Now, he wants positive cash flow.

To me, this is just the way of the world. We live in a cynical age, and if you think about it too much you'll get a headache.

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