Editorial – Together in this, or not?

Jeff Burgar

The lady in the old Ikea TV ad runs across the parking lot. She screams to her [presumably] husband, “Start the car! Start the car!”

The idea for the characterization, now appearing in other similar ads, is “Ikea is so cheap, it’s like they made a mistake. Let’s make a getaway before they find out!”

But for some strange reason, the lady didn’t tell the cashier. Instead, she absconds with her purchases, rushing to her vehicle. Good heavens! Isn’t this a horrible message to send to shoppers?

The idea of “too good a deal to be true” can apply to paycheques. Grab it anyway! Maybe even complain if it isn’t enough! Expect to hear such when coming hospital cutbacks start hitting home!

This is because many workforce members think Ikea activity is normal and acceptable behaviour. If you are a union member, and think you are getting maybe too good a deal from your union, you are educated to not worry about it. Just grab the goodies. There’s always lots more where that came from. Wink, wink! Nudge!

This thinking gets attention. Most people will accept a bit of unfairness, as long as it isn’t waved in their faces. So, gold-plated pension plans for government workers are “sort of” tolerated by the rest of the public.

Still, there is perpetual whining from some civil servants about how hard they work, how they deserve yet more sick days and more holidays. This whining is often matched, and exceeded, by unionized employees in the private sector. Not all, mind you, but some.

As for example, one company was faced with constant union demands. Free cosmetic dentistry, a generous clothing allowance, ever more holiday time including Valentine’s Day and birthdays to get the same consideration as a long list of “statutory equivalent” holidays. And much more!

The company finally closed its doors in Canada.

Governments can’t walk away from so-called responsibilities. But really, exactly what does government have to do for us? Could it not farm out military? Health care? Prisons? Airports?

When one of our local elected officials looks at the salaries they give to their own staff, the normal method is grab the phone. Neighbouring governments are asked what they pay people to drive truck, answer a phone, fix a pothole, or manage their office and shop fleet of people.

This lame effort should get all concerned in trouble. As has happened already in Alberta. One day, somebody looks around and sincerely asks, “Why do some nurses make over $200,000 per year?”

No doubt, our happy customer running away with goodies from the Ikea store never thought the gravy train might some day crash. Instead, grab the goodies and run. Our Alberta nurses piling up overtime are doing the same thing. Get it all while the grabbing is good.

And now, 11,000 jobs are on the block at Alberta Health Services. How this ends should send a clear signal through all governments in this province.

Are we in these troubled times together, or are we not?

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