In these post-Budget times, it’s difficult to recall when exactly this completely bogus public sector/private sector division was first referred to.
Listen to any talk-in radio programme of late, and, more often than not, you’ll have heard many private sector workers venting their fury at the public sector – short working hours, jobs for life, etc.
The print media, particularly The Daily Mail and Sunday Independent, have also done their bit to demonise the public service (although Gene Kerrigan remains the sole ‘Sindo’ voice of reason).
One can only presume that both newspapers are predominantly staffed by commentators whom, to use just one example, have never had a child taught in a class of 30 or more.
From what perspective are these hot air merchants framing their opinions from? Have they ever sat, even for a half-hour, in a classroom full of children, of various abilities and behaviours, and wondered how on earth teachers get their job done?
Do these bile-spewing ivory tower dwellers work a couple of hours beyond what their contract stipulates virtually every day of their working week, just to get through the paperwork that comes with the job nowadays?
Are there underperforming teachers? Absolutely. Should the means to remove them be less complicated and legally tangled that what it currently is? Absolutely – the lazy and the incompetent in any job, be it public or private, should be rooted out.
But I for one am sick to the back teeth of hearing about bad teachers.
Where is the public hoopla for our good teachers (i.e. most teachers), those men and women who do so much to mould the men and women of tomorrow?
Where are the phone-in shows devoted to the many brilliant teachers which our system has produced along with the communities which have benefited from their dedication?
Where are the in-depth profiles about those superb teachers who go the extra mile? Anyone that knows Noel Casey and has benefited from his counsel in CBS Carrick-on-Suir will know exactly what I’m referring to.
Where, in the name of God, is the existence of balance in the midst of this debate? If airtime and column inches offer any indication, then we’ve lost as many intellectual marbles as we have jobs.
The natural Irish disposition, particularly in times of trouble, is to criticise and begrudge.
Should we criticise those who have led us into this mess? Of course. That they’re the ones now trying to get us out of it is, let’s face it, pretty Irish.
But begrudgery is an altogether different phenomenon. Quite where it comes from I cannot be certain, but it’s nothing new. After all, it was Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) who opined that the Irish “were a very fair people – they never spoke well of one another”.
None of us, be we public or private sector workers, should feel entitled to our jobs.
Nor for that matter, as Labour’s Joan Burton eloquently put it last week, should anyone be told how lucky they are to have one. After all, good Chief Executives only tend to commandeer good businesses due to good staffing. You can’t have one without the other.
Regarding hard work, Robert Louis Stevenson said: “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”
Any country with good workers and sharp minds shouldn’t be on its knees for too long, but right now we’re hamstrung by a jaded government, devoid of innovation and over dependant on review groups and unelected advisors.
People, be they working in the private or public sector, whose enthusiasm and vigour was instilled in them at childhood by their parents and teachers alike, will get this country moving again.
As the Chinese proverb goes: “He who asks a question is a fool for a minute; he who does not remains a fool forever.” So support the curious, the determined and the ambitious as well as those who nourish such minds. Because we need them all.