The old saw that “Life’s tough all over” isn’t just a dismissive gesture anymore. It’s simply a truism in today’s economy.
So when Georgia teachers lament the difficult impact on them of nine furlough days to save the state millions – as they did in a Monday Chronicle story – we’re not without sympathy. But we’re not without perspective, either.
Those in the private sector, which pays the public sector’s way, have it far worse. Businesses and entrepreneurs are losing sleep just trying to survive in today’s marketplace. “Joe’s Plumbing” isn’t guaranteed of existing next year; it’s a pretty good bet the state of Georgia will be around, though.
And furlough days? That would be a luxury in the private sector. Here, you get pay cuts without the commensurate time off. From that vantage point, being furloughed looks pretty good.
Moreover, in the public sector, one is guaranteed a retirement. In the private sector? Good luck!
“For boomers, it’s a new era of ‘work ’til you drop’,” said one headline on an Associated Press story Monday explaining that many workers today don’t see retirement in their future anymore.
The story profiled one insurance industry communications specialist in Wisconsin who, when she entered the workforce in 1972, thought “she’d do pretty much what her parents’ generation did: Work for just one or two companies over about 45 years before bidding farewell to co-workers at a retirement party and heading off into her sunset years with a pension.”
Reality has set in. At age 60, she sees nothing on the horizon resembling time off to enjoy her golden years.
“I’ll probably just work until I drop,” she said.
We wish it were otherwise. But if the public sector has a cold today, it’s because the private sector is battling pneumonia.
On the whole, we’d pick the cold.