Monday, September 19, 2011

A job is a job is a job

Unless the word "blow" comes before it.

Or it is in the public sector.

At least, this is how I feel when I read or hear the news everyday.

I work in a public institution--a land-grant university, made possible by the Morrill Grant of 1862, and we receive a substantial amount of money from the state government for our operations. As with most large organizations, however, we have a diversified funding base, and we also receive a substantial amount of funding from students and parents, private donors, foundations, grantmakers, nonprofits, and other private sources. We also receive funding from the generation of products, services, and knowledge. We are accountable to all those sources for the allocation of all those dollars.

Lately, I have been feeling like my job doesn't count, and the only jobs that do are in the private sector. And specifically, in the for-profit private sector. Or, if they are nonprofit jobs, then they must be at large nonprofits such as health maintenance organizations or hospitals. Jobs at any government level, public universities, or "heinous organizations" such as Planned Parenthood (yes, a large nonprofit, but clearly one that does not count in the jobs discussion, only in the "declining liberal morals" discussion) are simply not jobby enough to be considered important.

This is what I hear as the Minnesota Legislature and Governor "negotiate" regarding the budget. This is what I hear when Planned Parenthood has to close six out-state clinics because of funding cuts. This is what I hear when a Regent of the University of Minnesota says "I don't think we're doing enough, folks" when it comes to pensions and employees. This is what I hear when, all around the country, people are saying we need to cut government, cut administration, cut, cut, cut.

They use abstract nouns like "government" and "administration," and they don't say "cut education" because that would prove unpopular, but they paint the teacher, the public worker, the civil servant as part of the problem. Overpaid layabouts who are part of an unnecessarily bloated bureaucracy.

It's not up to government, they say, to create jobs. That is the business of the private sector.



And, then, why isn't the private sector creating more jobs?

That's apparently the government's fault, too, because of the tax code and regulations that supposedly hamper hiring.

The women and men in those Planned Parenthood clinics are now jobless. Women and men in state and local governments all over the country are now out of jobs. Cutting budgets means cutting jobs. Doing "enough about pensions and employees" means cutting jobs. If I lose my job because of funding, I have lost my job. It counts. If I lose my job because of funding, I take my son out of day care, and my day care providers lose funding, and they perhaps cut a job; I cut back on expenses, cutting back on funding for the many businesses I patronize. I join all the other people who are out of a job because of budget cuts.

It matters. It adds up.

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