Ted and kroeran, thanks for the replies, but I'm not sure I truly understand them.
The first karma link says to me that karma is sort of a measure of our current level of development that determines what sort of lessons we have to learn; so there is metaphorically first grade karma and fourth grade karma and freshman karma, etc. That is different from my usual understanding of karma as being "you reap what you sow" or perhaps "rewards/punishments in the next world/the next reincarnation depending on your merits/sins".
how I would square this apparent circle is to think of it as the MBTOE intent->action->results->feedback->self modification->intent cycle leads to higher or lower entropy, and your emotional experience of your environment, your intent and actions, will be guided by your entropy level - the same crap will be interpreted and reacted to completely differently dependent on your level of entropy. This interpretation and reaction is the part that preceeds the end game of karma that you understand...so decisions (sowing) form Quality of Conciousness, QoC level calibrates your capacity to let crap pass by or pass through you without emotional effect.
Separately, I believe the quality of actual future events can be influenced by your QoC in the NPMR sense, especially if you start to explicitly game the system by aggressively stimulating your right hemisphere with meditation or creative activities, ferreting out meanness and ego from your behavior and trying to be as kind as possible, especially when circumstances are challenging, and by fearlessly accepting offers to novel situations and also seeking them out.
As well, in some merit-driven professions or in most businesses, kindness and other-centeredness are essential to sustainable performance and results. Perhaps not so much in the back stabbing culture of some government organizations.
Is it desirable that I be as selfless as possible in the customer service world when I'm only doing it to pay the bills? I often think I would rather just live a near-hermit-like existence. Working customer service improves my patience with people, which may be the lesson I'm "supposed to be" learning, but if it's not getting me brownie points in NPMR, then (except for the money) am I wasting my time trying to be nice to difficult people?
All legal jobs, even the executioner, are equivalent ethically. Job description, description execution, pay check (pellet) falls out of the system, pay rent...and so on. What matters is how you execute that job description within the span of decision making accorded to your discretion, and the extent to which you behave as though you and the client or collegue are sections of the same sheet (AUM) rather than sock puppet bumps in the sheet (IUOCs), which is love. Love is what we are, not sacrifice for later reward.
This example I guess is the flip of your situation...I once "counselled" a strip club owner (no, this was at a beach bar on Fort Myers beach with my wife at my side...though in my younger days...) who was raised Catholic, and consequently faced a higher propensity of QoC emergence than your average person, who was having ethical trouble with his profession, but he had no other way to make a living. My message to him was to be the kindest strip club owner on the planet. Don't sleep with the girls, run as ethical and legal shop as possible, and make a sincere effort to redirect certain girls with the potential away from that life. Jesus told the Roman Soldier it was ok to be a soldier, just don't take bribes.
Being nice to difficult people is just "emotional economics". Swallow that bit of pride and annoyance in the bud. If you react in a negative way in such situations, my personal experience is that you carry those events with you for a very long time, possibly forever, and they weigh you down. That being said, you have to learn to protect your dignity and set limits on how clients, collegues or spouses are permitted to talk to you...it is not syntropic to allow yourself to be a doormat. Be firm, pay attention to your tone of voice which communicates the emotional aspect of your messaging, focus the discussion on the other person's action and how it made you feel, allow yourself to express vulnerability (ie. "that hurt my feelings") and don't counter attack, be in charge, show your personal power.
Another aspect of service I struggle with is this: I have witnessed that the providing of certain publicly funded services causes dependency on the part of those served. Former alternate coping strategies or means of independence are lost when one becomes entitled to a service. I believe in the strong helping the weak as a general principle of love, but sometimes being helped makes the weak more dependent. This does relate to low-entropy states in that while I think my service is helping me reduce my own entropy, the service may be making the service recipient's entropy higher.
oh man Jumbles...I work in a government policy shop that directs several billions of taxpayers dollar handouts and this is it - you nailed it and I now baptise you in the Church of Libertarianism. Every government or NGO organization, once formed, acts in its self interest to preserve itself and maximize its power, even to the point of exploiting the clients it nominally serves. And in this sense it is possible that your job is actually less ethical than the strip club owner, but don't sweat it, do your best within your span of decision making...try to direct clients to better choices, try to carefully reform your organizations methods, look for a supervisor that shares your views, if the job makes you soul sick, look for alternate work or retrain or just suck it up and practise rolling your eyes a lot, like most of us do. http://www.freetochoose.tv/