Conor Friedersdorf recently posted this thought:
Though it isn't defensible, it is unsurprising that a lot of people who eschew offers to work at these firms, favoring public sector work instead, imagine that they are making an enormous personal sacrifice by taking government work. The palpable sense of entitlement some of these public sector folks exude is owed partly to how few of 'our best and brightest' do eschew the big firm route (due partly to increasing debt levels among today's graduates, no doubt).
Which has drawn a lot of email defending the right of government employees who gave up Big Law or McKinsey to feel like they made a sacrifice, and like they're a little hard used by the current US income structure.
Speaking as someone who attended one of these lustrous graduate institutions that allegedly produce our "best and brightest", I'd like to say . . . knock it off. Stop patting yourself on the back. You can seriously damage the ligaments in your shoulder that way, as I discovered when pursuing an ill-placed mosquito bite too vigorously.
You know how much credit I deserve for giving up highly paid professional work in order to spend my days boring the hell out of you all with my breezy explanations of present value calculations? None. Am I performing a public service? I hope so. I take my profession seriously, and like to think that I am adding something to the public understanding. But that was my choice. I knew what I was giving up when I made it, and I also knew what I was getting. Which is to say, a job that I absolutely love more than anything I've ever done, a chance to speak to interesting people and see amazing things all the time.