Friday, 30 July 2021

The Saintly Public Sector

David James has a piece in CapX about a tendency to portray working in the public sector as a vocation rather than a job.

Covid-19 has been damaging for many of the professions we have relied on most to get us through the pandemic. Recent furores about modest pay increases and freezes for NHS workers, teachers and the police are heightened by an assumption that the people who work in these industries are, somehow, different from others who toil away in less virtuous jobs. Perhaps only an increase that would have made Croesus blush would have satisfied the BMA, or the teaching and police unions...

Despite all evidence to the contrary we persist in claiming the NHS is world class when it is only mediocre compared to other rich nations’ health services. This isn’t just incorrect, but seriously damaging. By insisting on defending the NHS and everyone who works for it, we actually make improvement difficult and keep its failings in place. The same goes for teaching: unless we accept the weaknesses of our educational system we will unintentionally limit the prospects of too many of our children.

The whole piece is worth reading because this skewed perception of the public sector is a major problem when it comes to even the mildest reform. I worked in the public sector for most of my working life. It's a job, not a vocation. 

In my experience, those who present it as a vocation are usually indulging in special pleading. Much of the blame for this seems to lie with the BBC which certainly does appear to view the public sector as more virtuous than the private. As they would of course. 


Anonymous said...

And another thing.

All this guff about "key workers".

How would these "key workers" get on if no water came out of their taps, or the drains backed up, or the power went off, or supplies weren't delivered, or (to bring it nearer to personal) their networks crashed and nobody knew how to get them working again?

Key workers - bah humbug.


A K Haart said...

Anon - and a bah humbug from me too. If no water came out of their taps for a day or two they would soon see who the real key workers are. Not that they would ever admit it.