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Any of you work in the public sector?

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fountainhead Posted: Wed, Apr 4 2012 10:47 PM

Greetings everyone! I'm new here so just wanted to say hello. I'm also curious if any of you happen to work in the public sector? I fall into a very strange demographic since I'm a Libertarian but I work in the public sector (the United Nations). I know, I know, ironic right?? Although, you could definitely say that I'm well placed to see, first hand, the problems with big government.

I abandoned Socialism and became a Libertarian in college after being exposed to large doses of the campus Left and one particularly memorable economics course in which the professor had us read "The Libertarian Reader", which cointained a few excerpts from Hayek, Rothbard, and Mises, among others. But I ended up working at the UN for largely personal, non-political reasons (Many of my friends and family either worked or had worked there in the past, I was already somewhat familiar with the administrative side of the organization, it's a very interesting place to work if you're into politics/economics, with interesting people from around the world and, of course, great benefits).

One of the responsibilities of my particular office is to monitor the budgets of the various other departments of the UN and to keep them from overspending, otherwise we have to answer to the Member States. That got me thinking the other day, about the ruinous United States debt and how it could possibly be reined in and, by chance, discovered Austrian Economics (I had already generally endorsed it, being a young Libertarian, but wasn't aware of the school's name or the underlying theory until now) and the Mises.org community. I'm certainly fascinated by this school of thought, even if I'm not yet well versed enough to completely support it.

Anyway, that's enough about me. Just wondering if any of you find yourselves in similarly strange situations like I do. Look forward to speaking with you all!

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I am studying a PhD (by research) in engineering and receiving a full tution scholarship + stipend paid for by the state. Does that count?

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Kakugo replied on Thu, Apr 5 2012 9:35 AM

I used to, then I woke up. I also taught reparation courses and that did in any shred of respect I had for the schooling system. Seeing how things work "from the inside" was one of the most pivotal points of my life.

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Kakugo:
Seeing how things work "from the inside" was one of the most pivotal points of my life.

Same thing for Thomas Sowell.

 

 

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I taught special ed for 2 years.  Then I got fired.  It was a blessing because I got out of there without ever actually throwing a kid against the wall.  Discipline and respect are things of the past.  I also criticized the principal's 'every student gets an award' program to her face.  Hmmm....maybe that's why I got fired.

 

Anyhoo, it was an okay experience.  I now know first hand all about the money wasted on the worst students; money taken from those who earned it at the point of a gun.  As most would guess, the term, 'disabled' is being stretched to the point of losing all meaning.  The schoolsystem is feminized to the max.  I love women, but kids, and the world, need(s) both perspectives: from men AND women.  Of course, privitization would solve everything, just as it would in all other public systems.

 

I'm loving the education I'm getting from mises.org/daily; I am part way through Human Action and have read much else recommended by this site and on Austrian Econ.  Some of it is over my head, but I'm learning.  The answers to all of our problems are so simple: just freedom, private property and a total ban on initiative force.  Will it ever happen?

 

I also have two brothers who work for the IRS; one as an agent.  The other goes around to weigh stations and tests drivers' diesel fuel to make sure it's not the illegal red type.  Was there ever a more potent statement on the uselessness of the state?  My bros are great guys.  I don't know how they get up and go to work each day.  Although... I did it for those 2 years.

 

I also worked on the 2010 census.  Just needed a job.  That was a clusterhunch.  It's tough to embrace all of these principles and yet, hypocritically betray them by not living them perfectly.

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"I also worked on the 2010 census.  Just needed a job.  That was a clusterhunch.  It's tough to embrace all of these principles and yet, hypocritically betray them by not living them perfectly."

Yeah, I hear ya. That's kind of what I wonder to myself sometimes. I think, in my case, the reason I'm not too bothered by it is my whole job is basically to fight corruption and waste and to conserve taxpayer money, which is in line with my principles. Can't speak for all of my colleagues, but I at least know that's what I'm working for.

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yes,

and i love my job

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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Well i work for a bank. small one so not really public but do deal with a lot of federal regulations that its pretty damn close.

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PhilipK replied on Fri, Apr 6 2012 9:32 PM

I was doing freelance website development, until I was hired by an agricultue organization which manages sheep. One of their programs is the manditory RFID tagging of all sheep by the end of 2012... go figure. I don't even eat meat. I'm taking the position because its more money for less work then what I was doing before and hope to save enough that I can take time off to study in September. Not to mention I find it very interesting to get a view of such organizations from the inside.

scottscobig:

  As most would guess, the term, 'disabled' is being stretched to the point of losing all meaning.  The schoolsystem is feminized to the max.  I love women, but kids, and the world, need(s) both perspectives: from men AND women.  Of course, privitization would solve everything, just as it would in all other public systems.

I can attest to this. When I was going through public school I had a tendency to argue with teachers over things which I felt they were wrong about. I did not respond well to the typical appeal to authority most teachers will immediately jump to. I had a knack for pointing out contradictions in their thinking, while the class watched. This led to my being forcefully drugged, with several different medications that were switched through the years(due to policy change in what would be administered for ADHD, due to the original ones being shown to be some what dangerous.).

Once I got into post-secondary I realized the paper work used to drug me in public school could be used to get grants and bursuries. Seeing as I don't agree with how the state uses their money I would rather it in my pocket, thus I will take any public funding which I'm able. In my last year I was able secure a $2000 grant for a Mac Book Pro, which I used in starting my own web development business... which led me to where I work now. 

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Kakugo replied on Sat, Apr 7 2012 8:17 AM

I have the utmost respect for Thomas Sowell. His writings are always deep, well thought of and carefully put together. And very often he describes situations I can relate to.

Differently from many of you (and my mother) I am not a fully blown anarchist. But I have lots of issues with the evolution of government in the past twenty or so years. I used to work as a librarian, and I always assumed our job was to lease books and help people finding the volumes they were looking for. Nothing more nothing less. It was not our job to get people to read, nor to fight illiteracy, nor to help children do their homework, nor to indoctrinate people about the latest social/environmental fad, nor to help the local, well-connect author sell her mediocre books. Yet we were asked to do all of this and more. I also found myself seeing noisy politicians intrude on our job for petty reasons. Mises readers will love this example. We had a policy to save room: if a book hadn't been checked out for a number of years, we sent it to the municipal warehouse. If someone asked for it we would go, pick it up and have it available by the next working day. We had the full works of Karl Marx, pretty much every piece of incoherent mumbo-jumbo he ever wrote. It was taking up a lot of room we desperately needed and not a single volume had been checked out for ten years or so. So we packed them up and sent the whole lot of them to the warehouse. Guess what? A councilor thought ours was a "politically motivated move" and asked for poor old Marx's works to be reinstated. We had a very hard time convincing her we already had been far too deferent to the local populace's political persuasions (I used to work in a "red" area) since we usually sent books to the warehouse after five years of "inactivity". If she really valued Marx's works that much she could have checked them out once in a while...

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The UN is a waste of time until the people meeting up speak more freely towards each other. The UN is ineffective and a waste of money. Glad for you to join us.

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scottscobig:
It's tough to embrace all of these principles and yet, hypocritically betray them by not living them perfectly.

I wanted to make sure you saw this.

 

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Meistro replied on Sun, Apr 8 2012 9:40 AM

In a society where the state is ever present, it is hardly compromising one's principles to be employed or subsidized by the state.  Rothbard writes that one's interactions with the state should be governed strictly by self interest.  In a sense the radical position of never touching a government dollar rends our movement impotent.  If every cop, judge, lawyer etc. is a non libertarian it is much harder to affect change.  That bein said I will still not touch a dime of filthy state lucre and am blessed by having a profession which can legally tax evade (gamblor in Canada).

 

... just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own - Albert Jay Nock

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Clayton replied on Sun, Apr 8 2012 10:04 AM

Just wanted to note that the UN is not a government.

The problems created by the State are independent of the action of any but perhaps the most powerful individuals. I would think of working for the government (even as a soldier or police officer where you directly aggress against innocents) in the same category as any vice: it's something that is unhealthy for your soul and, therefore, probably a bad idea but it's not a "thou shalt not". It's really not in the same moral category as something like rape or murder even though reason clearly shows that the moral principle by which the State acts (hypocrisy, dual-law) is no different than rape or murder. The key is to realize that you don't even have to be an employee of the government to be a part of the system.

For example, I work for one of the largest tech companies. I like to say "My paycheck is written by Intellectual Property law" - because it is. But IP is simply morally illegitimate. It should not exist except insofar as it can be enforced through privately-funded lawsuits or threats thereof and contracts based on that (such as NDAs). The idea that the State's goons can be turned loose on people for "illegal downloading" and "piracy" is even worse than the horrid war on drugs. I owe my paycheck to the machinations of IP lawyers and their lackeys in the State apparatus but I'm not undergoing a moral crisis about it.

The State exists because of fundamental and widespread errors in human thinking about morality. The single most important step you can take to eliminating the State is to get clear about morality yourself. You cannot clarify the thinking of others until your thinking has first become clear.

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I work as an equivalent of the higher ages high school teacher in the UK. I mainly teach is basic Maths which the kids turn up for because they get paid to do so (around $40 a week which alledgely helps kids from poor backgrounds afford the bus in to college etc when in fact it mostly goes on cell phones and alcohol) They don't really improve their maths skills, they learn to pass a test which if they achieve a C will help to some extent in the labour market although the real "value" is that they can then go to university to study an inane degree.

The main reason I'm there is: one it pays the bills, and two it gives me experience which will hopefully improve my chances of founding my own school in which some actual education may actually take place. I'm presently researching the major educational works (up to the mid 19th century) and intend to write my first long essay/book on the subject.

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Clayton replied on Tue, Apr 10 2012 12:14 PM

I'm presently researching the major educational works (up to the mid 19th century) and intend to write my first long essay/book on the subject.

That's cool - I was homeschooled so I have an abiding interest in education. I've been thinking that we should really return to a classical "core" education, consisting of logic, (Euclidean) geometry, classical literature and history, rhetoric, and so on. Too much of modern education is "clever" in the same way that modern science is "clever" - it's all about the "counter-intuitive".

The problem is that, in the process, kids are taught that they're supposed to be mystified by science and life in general. Because it's so complicated, you'd have to have a PhD to even begin to understand it, anyway. And this goes right into the compartmentalization of modern knowledge - we are made to feel that "there's too much knowledge" nowadays, nobody could ever have a general grasp of the state of human knowledge. It is true that the body of human knowledge is inexhaustible for an individual but this has always been the case!

Another thing that our education system does is reinforce this idea (particularly in math and physics) that the body of human knowledge is "basically closed". Pretty much everything that can be said about math has been said and except for a few arcane theorems which can only be approached by supermen mathematicians like Gigori Perelman, it's all been solved. Physics is a little more open but not much... basically, if you work really, really hard for twenty years, you might be able to contribute something but probably not. There are few unanswered questions in physics, we are inches from a closed theory. So, close your imagination and get to work regurgitating these random facts being spewed at you by the teacher.

This is the message we should be sending to kids: The world is fundamentally rational and comprehensible, though wild and amazing and filled with untold wonders which we have not yet even begun to uncover. Humility is a requisite virtue if you expect to build on and contribute to what others have done but never underestimate the opportunities for new discoveries, particularly if you're willing to study problems that most people don't find interesting. And while you may not have enough depth to contribute to a particular body of knowledge, you should never hesitate to absorb whatever you can from those who have studied it in depth - you never know what tools of thought they will have applied to their area of expertise that may be reusable in your own area.

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That's cool - I was homeschooled so I have an abiding interest in education. I've been thinking that we should really return to a classical "core" education, consisting of logic, (Euclidean) geometry, classical literature and history, rhetoric, and so on. Too much of modern education is "clever" in the same way that modern science is "clever" - it's all about the "counter-intuitive".

When I was in grade 6 I was put in a special class for a few top students.  In that class we did nothing but logic puzzles.  So, my retro-analysis about the class is either (a) that class was intended to make useful idiots or (b) the normal curriculum is intended to make useful idiots.

How much of time were you homeschooled?  I had a teacher sent to my house for grade 7 after I got expelled.  They wanted to continue that, but I hated the new teacher the next year.

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Clayton replied on Tue, Apr 10 2012 12:35 PM

I was homeschooled from 6th grade until graduation.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Apr 11 2012 7:32 AM

Until this week, I worked in the government-contracting division of a large company. Now I'm working at a company that develops software for private industry. I'd prefer to go out of this world (so to speak) as a net "tax-producer" rather than a net "tax-consumer" - but that's just me. YMMV.

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gamma_rat replied on Thu, Apr 12 2012 4:20 PM

Just wanted to note that the UN is not a government.

 
Someone needs to tell the UN that.
 
Anyway, thank God, no, I do not work in the public sector.  Didn't go to government school either, but am studying at a government university, for my sins...
 
"The history of the world is the history of the triumph of the heartless over the mindless." - Sir Humphrey Appleby
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Clayton replied on Thu, Apr 12 2012 4:47 PM

Someone needs to tell the UN that.

Naw, they don't have any teeth. It's more like a military alliance like NATO... they go around and beat the shit out of tiny governments that can't defend themselves but they have zero real military power or taxing power, defining features of a government.

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gamma_rat replied on Thu, Apr 12 2012 5:26 PM

It's like the Holy Roman Empire and Papacy of the Dark Ages rolled into one...  It calls crusades, and it pretends that it's above the state, while really it is just an extra crown for the most powerful state around.

"The history of the world is the history of the triumph of the heartless over the mindless." - Sir Humphrey Appleby
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Autolykos replied on Thu, Apr 12 2012 5:47 PM

By the way, I'm also a child of public school (unfortunately).

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Clayton replied on Thu, Apr 12 2012 6:26 PM

@gamma_rat: That's definitely what they aim to be. However, I don't think they attain to their own pretensions.

The power of the Church rested in its ability to control people's minds. The Church could say to a non-conformist King, "cooperate with us or continue to deal with wave after wave of popular revolt" and it could offer a cooperative King, "formally submit to us and we will deliver your subjects to you meek and submissive like sheep ready for slaughter." The UN has no such control mechanism so it really has nothing to offer the rulers that it wants to subjugate. What power does the UN have over people's minds and convictions? In my opinion, precious little.

Yes, they would like climate consciousness and secularism to be the new world religion. They probably have their fingers in a wide variety of new-age, cults, occult, and so on. But these manufactured zeitgeists command very little power over people's consciences precisely because they have almost no grounding in human morality and human nature. The essential dogmas of Christianity that are concerned with human behavior are at least recognizably human. This cannot be said for the new-fangled religions.

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"Naw, they don't have any teeth. It's more like a military alliance like NATO... they go around and beat the shit out of tiny governments that can't defend themselves but they have zero real military power or taxing power, defining features of a government."

True, and the other Member States usually leave the shit-out-of-beating part to the US, lol. Most of the time 'the UN' isn't one entity with a coherent opinion anyway. It's simply the sum of the wills of its Member States, though obviously dominated by the so-called "Permanent Five" (US, UK, France, Russia, China). One thing that I find ironic and kind of sad, is how much of a fiscal hawk the US (along with Japan and sometimes the EU) is when dealing with UN spending. If only they were even remotely as tight with our money at home! But I suppose it's because UN spending doesn't buy any votes back home.

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gamma_rat replied on Fri, Apr 13 2012 7:27 AM

The Church could say to a non-conformist King, "cooperate with us or continue to deal with wave after wave of popular revolt" and it could offer a cooperative King, "formally submit to us and we will deliver your subjects to you meek and submissive like sheep ready for slaughter.

Yes, I suppose this is really more of an IMF speciality these days.

Most of the time 'the UN' isn't one entity with a coherent opinion anyway.

Neither is any government.  It's always a shifting alliance of individuals.

It's simply the sum of the wills of its Member States, though obviously dominated by the so-called "Permanent Five" (US, UK, France, Russia, China). 

Yeah, most people think of the Security Council and maybe the General Assembly when they think "UN", but it's not just a building in New York that serves as a sort of global embassy...  There is a gigantic, permanent, global bureaucracy involved too.

Is the United States of America just the sum of the wills of its member states?  Was it not supposed to be, initially?

"The history of the world is the history of the triumph of the heartless over the mindless." - Sir Humphrey Appleby
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excel replied on Wed, Apr 25 2012 3:30 AM

Sometimes I've felt like I should get a job in the public sector so that I technically don't contribute any taxes to a violent system. It seems like the morally superior thing to do.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Apr 25 2012 7:59 AM

But then you'd be living off of money taken aggressively from others. That's not so morally superior, if you ask me.

Indeed, that was a big part of the reason why I sought a job in the private sector. As a software engineer for the government-contracting division of a large company, the bulk of my salary - at least 80%, by my reckoning - came from taxes. That makes me a net tax consumer for the time being. I think it goes without saying that I hope to rectify this situation.

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eliotn replied on Wed, Apr 25 2012 9:04 AM

Well I work at NOAA, so I guess it counts.  However, I am seeking opportunities outside of this, as the experience of the pubic sector is not good.  I can evaluate what its like at a later time.

Schools are labour camps.

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I agree that, in general terms, it is preferable to work in the private rather than in the public sector. However, I think a libertarian shouldn’t stop doing the job he likes because the state monopolizes the service (or makes it very difficult to have the same job in a private company).

It is not left versus right, it is social engineering versus spontaneous order.
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Kmelfina replied on Wed, Apr 25 2012 11:48 AM

Working on a secondary education degree to teach math/economics (basics, maybe I'd add a little Austrian economic perspective to ward off famous statist myths).  I'm morally troubled but I don't know if Virginia has private institutions (other than "Governor's schools") near my hometown, but before I dove into Austrian Economics/Anarchro-capitalism I wanted to teach mathematics at my old high school since it's a subject I love and still want to after. Since VA a right-to-work state there won't be obstacles to go through like unions.

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Clayton replied on Wed, Apr 25 2012 12:16 PM

+1 Dylan - a good reason not to work for the government is that it's almost certainly soul-crushing work and deprives you of the opportunity to develop real marketable skills. I think it's generally up to the individual's conscience. I think people should bear in mind that, even in a private law society, there would be assassins, mercenaries, and so on.

That's why I think it's unfair to single out police or soldiers as being engaged in particularly aggressive government occupations - it's the system itself that is aggressive and that needs to be changed. Security services, regional defense. etc. are all perfectly noble occupations if separated from tax-funding. The occupation of postal delivery is no less tainted by its tax-funded, monopoly status - it is the tax-funding and monopolization that taints the occupation, not the particular duties performed in the occupation. To the extent that those duties deviate from what would obtain in a free market, that is again the result of the prior aggression of taxation.

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I worked for the Federal government for 10 years - intellectual property. Was not a libertarian prior to starting. Was a libertarian when I got out. Became a libertarian about halfway during that stint. In fact it was at work when I stumbled upon the mises.org website for the first time. I even participated in forums while at working for the Fed.

Did not believe in what I was doing, but still worked. Money was decent and job security was good. Quit the job when I saved up a good bit of money. Now just relaxing and sitting back. I may even consider going back to intellectual property should I return to the workforce. Maybe as a consultant.

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Esuric replied on Wed, Apr 25 2012 1:03 PM

No, but I would like to.

"If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion."

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Al_Gore the Idiot:
I worked for the Federal government for 10 years - intellectual property. Was not a libertarian prior to starting. Was a libertarian when I got out. Became a libertarian about halfway during that stint. In fact it was at work when I stumbled upon the mises.org website for the first time. I even participated in forums while at working for the Fed.

Haha, didn't the irony of browsing Mises at work kill you? :) I too, became more of a Libertarian as I spent more time in the public sector. I still love my job though.

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excel replied on Thu, Apr 26 2012 2:11 AM

@Autolykos:

Yeah, it's a weird moral question. Which is more moral, to benefit from a violent system, but not sustain it (with tax money), or to not benefit from it (sort of) but to sustain it with your efforts.

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I simply hated the job. It was boring and monotonous. That was the main reason I left. If I do something again with IP, it won't be working for someone else.

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I work at a Financial Regulatory body that is often mistaken for a public institution if that counts.

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Apr 26 2012 9:15 AM

excel:
@Autolykos:

Yeah, it's a weird moral question. Which is more moral, to benefit from a violent system, but not sustain it (with tax money), or to not benefit from it (sort of) but to sustain it with your efforts.

I think it's accurate to say that one is sustaining something only if he has the intention of doing so. Since I only relinquish money for taxes because I don't want to be imprisoned (or worse), I don't think I'm sustaining "the system". The money I relinquish could be said to sustain it, but that requires a different, impersonal meaning for "sustain". But that was the case even with my previous job.

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Clayton replied on Thu, Apr 26 2012 11:39 AM

 

I work at a Financial Regulatory body that is often mistaken for a public institution if that counts.

You work at the Fed???

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