Sunday, 25 July 2010

Public vs Private Sector

An article in The Week (10 July 2010) which was presumably quoting from a newspaper columnist - it may be Eamonn Butler in The Guardian - it's unclear - said of the 600,000 people public sector employees forecast to lose their jobs - "with nearly half a million jobs now being advertised, even in these uncertain times, there's plenty of scope for committed people to find work."

The forecast is for 1.3 million jobs to go in both sectors, but the article also quotes the Office of Budget Responsibility's forecast of 2.5 million new private sector jobs by 2014. The article doesn't attempt to decide whether these 2.5 million jobs are new additional - ie whether we are to deduct the 700,000 (1.3 million less 600,000) or it has been deducted.

It's a fat lot of good callibrating all this in "jobs" as if any one job is equal to any other job, and here we have the tacit assumption that private sector jobs are better than public sector ones. "Committed" people in the public sector will of course go out and get a new job in the private sector. What it is they were doing in the public sector or will be doing in the private sector is entirely irrelevant, it would seem.

If a job is pointless - having no social return - and is just there to give someone something to do so they can earn money and thereby access to the necessities of life, the 'sector' that it is in is entirely irrelevant. The point is that we should arrange to have done the things that are necessary for our survival and prosperity as a species by the most efficient means possible, and this means de-coupling work from access to the necessities of life.

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