The worst thing about yesterday’s strike by public sector workers was the fact that you just knew it would give rise to some people trotting out a load of tired old bollocks in the ongoing private sector versus public sector ding-dong; and you were right, witnessing the testing of the “little knowledge is a dangerous thing” motif to destruction by people missing the point by several counties. You know the sort of thing, so I won’t go into detail (although, for what it’s worth, I’m beginning to deduct points for those who refer to the private sector as the wealth-creating, productive part of the economy, as that’s just too hackneyed and ignorant to ignore any further).
That said, one of the complaints I read, numerous times over, was the furious assertion that don’t you know it’s the private sector that pays for the public sector in the first place, providing the slackers with their pensions, and their wages?! Now this, it seems to me, is undeniable. It also doesn’t appear to be a problem. Where does this sense of grievance come from, I wonder?
Put another way, rather than clefting the nation in twain and labelling us as either public sector workers or private sector workers, why don’t we use the terms government workers and non-government workers instead? Lest we forget that it’s the non-government workers who are the ones who pay their taxes to finance those wages and pensions for government workers? It’s a disgrace I tell you, something must be done!
Oh really? How about, just for fun, we cut the pie a different way? Talking of pies (and pasties!) how about we divide the country into Greggs employees and non-Greggs employees? Did you know that it’s down to the non-Greggs employees to hand over their hard-earned cash to feather the beds of those pampered Greggs workers, with their wages, and their pensions, and their natty uniforms! It’s an outrage! Oh…er…hang on; that doesn’t actually sound unreasonable, does it? More like a mere a statement of fact, in fact. What’s the difference?
Basically, nothing*. Taxpayers pay for government, customers pay for Greggs. Otherwise, it’s as you are. The reason they are considered differently is down to ideological oafishness. No one would dream of getting angry at Greggs workers for having a decent pension paid for by the likes of you and me. And yet…and yet…
…we get the common sight of newspaper columnists, sneering down their noses at public sector workers who earn a fraction of their salary, and demanding they endure a shittier retirement. And incidentally that, if anything, is the problem with Jeremy Clarkson’s comments. Not that he’s said something controversial (yawn†); he made a joke, and as is his way, it wasn’t all that funny. It’s the suggestion that behind the joke lies the unsurprising lack of self-awareness of a pampered rich man looking down on others while pocketing a handsome cheque from the state broadcaster. He’s a tit.
In summary, then, yes; it’s the private sector that pays for the public sector. But that isn’t a matter to feel aggrieved about; it’s a matter of bookkeeping.
PostScript: Another post! And a vaguely topical one! Good God! Can I keep it up?
*You get further points deducted for stating that we can choose to shop at Greggs but we’re forced to pay for government. True, but irrelevant.
†This, for what it’s worth is the correct response to whatever Clarkson says or does. For heaven’s sake don’t complain. It just makes you look silly.