Announcing New Book
Arthur Webb tackles the current widespread antipathy and distrust of government as a threat to our democracy. Webb Observes: I don’t think that hard-working public servants feel particularly valued, much less honored, today. Every citizen encounters and uses government services of one kind or another every day.
Quotes From the Author
I believe deeply in the idea that public service remains an honorable profession. In the face of severe and harsh criticism, public servants are essential workers to keep government working. From public safety, to clean drinking water, health care,
education, are all staffed by committed public servants.
It is also important to emphasize the word servant in public servant. Indeed, to “serve first” was instilled in me early when I was active in a national youth movement. When I use the term oublic servant in this book it embraces ther deep emotions to serve first-be a servent.
The Honorable Profession book is unlike any other I have read or known on public service. It is both personal and analytic. It has quotable, lively truisms and witticisms. It is forthright and constructive – but also modest and self-critical. A good balance. Overall wonderful!
New York State Budget Director under Governor Hugh L. Carey
I totally agree that public service is an honorable profession. Arthur’s book, “Honorable Profession,” should be required reading for all those in public service.
Secretary of Health and Human Services and Commissioner of the Department of Social Services under Governor Mario Cuomo
I am less inclined to view a profession as honorable than to see honorable people within the profession. Honor varies and Arthur Webb stands at the peak. I have known, watched, and learned from his career over decades, and I have had the joy of working with him. Arthur’s public service was at the high end of responsibility. Given his direct connection with governors you could say he lived in a political world. Yet, not once did I hear Arthur dwell on what was good for the governor, the party, or the interest groups that supported it. He has always asked what is good for the citizens of New York State. That is rare.
What makes this reflection so valuable is just that context. What does it take to be a highly honorable decision-maker in government? You will find some answers here in the exacting details of Medicaid budgeting, the drug crisis, and major health care reform. You are with Arthur as he, characteristically, thinks before acting in these pages. You will find other answers in his musings as to what matters. For example, in the chapter on Leadership, Arthur writes,
As an executive, your personal and professional ethics are the most important part of your management style. It is the thing that people will remember. Without a sense of obligation and commitment to people and the truth, the dilemmas of choice are not clear.
On first reading, this may sound like the usual general comments on leaders. Dig deeper. First note that Arthur ties ethics to management styles. He does not separately write about ethics as a screen for testing decisions. He integrates ethical behavior at the core of making decisions. Then comes the comment on dilemmas of choice. Without seeing what is true, choices will always need weighing by costs and benefits. They are relative. Arthur reminds us that choices have a deeper basis in principles, as do their consequences.
I urge not just aspiring public servants to read this book but anyone who wants to consider how professional and personal attributes can and should intertwine.
President, The Rensselaerville Institute (TRI) (36 years)
Great Read. His memoir offers practical advice on dealing with complex bureaucracies, competing constituencies and executive loyalty while still maintaining one’s own physical and mental health and a necessary sense of humor.
Director of State Operations under Governor Mario Cuomo
Arthur will be remembered by the depth of his commitment, indeed passion, for providing services to individuals with developmental disabilities in the community.
Deputy Secretary for Health under Governor Mario Cuomo
The Honorable Profession is a very important book for all those currently or thinking about entering public service.
-Robert L. Schiffer
Senior Advisor and Deputy Budget Director under Governor Hugh L. Carey.
From the opening line that “public service is an honorable profession,” author Arthur Y. Webb tackles the current widespread antipathy and distrust of government as a threat to U.S. democracy. He writes in his new book, Honorable Profession: My Years in Public Service, that this situation undermines not only the importance of government, but the public servants who work in it. “I don’t think that hard-working public servants feel particularly valued, much less honored, today,” he says.
In this eminently readable book, Arthur Webb weaves an interesting narrative of his long and distinguished career as a public servant. He describes major triumphs and challenges that he faced as a public manager, and offers insights that today’s politicians and policymakers ought to heed regarding the nature of public service, leadership, and character. If you are someone who laments the decline of ethical and moral behavior in government, you will find this book indispensable reading.
–Alan B. Cohen, Sc.D.
is a Research Professor in the Markets, Public Policy and Law Department of the Questrom School of Business, and Professor of Health Law, Policy and Management in the BU School of Public Health. He also is Editor of The Milbank Quarterly An honorable narrative of a professional life dedicated to public service