Private and Public Safety Nets

April 4, 2007

There was an interesting article in yesterday’s NYT on corporations that have decided that when it comes to workers, they can no longer “afford decency for decency’s sake”.

The article notes that along with declining health insurance benefits and the disappearance of pensions, companies have now begun to lay-off more experienced (and more highly paid) workers in the name of efficiency.

And when workers can no longer anticipate rising wages over a long-term commitment to a company, they also can no longer expect to finance a home, pay for their children’s education or care for elderly parents.

The article fairly points out that European companies have never been as involved in the the health care of employees or in the well-being of the elderly as American companies have historically been.

In the end though, the author notes

It would also be foolish to pretend nothing is changing. The corporate safety net of the 20th century is going away, and a fundamentally different private sector will require a fundamentally different public sector.

Yet it seems that so many of us who might provide political support for such changes in the public sector have not yet caught on that the private sector has changed so dramatically in the global economy. So many of us still believe that hard work will be rewarded, that anyone can prosper, that learning more in school will position us for rewarding and high-paying jobs.

It will be interesting to see how some of these issues play out in the upcoming presidential campaign.

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