There. Having displayed my capacity for clemency, I'm going to ask the same of you because I now have to admit to seeing him on The Wright Stuff this morning (I'm not an avid viewer, honest) and he made a throwaway comment that essentially said that if public sector workers wanted the same wages as private sector workers - go work for the private sector. It was said with a small shrug and a 'get me, I've just cleared that matter up in a heartbeat' smile. Maybe I'm being harsh. Maybe it was wind.
And maybe he didn't mean that we should have no sympathy for them. Or that public services weren't vital. Or that he had never made good use of them. Maybe in fact he meant that he is the perfect example of the new government's shared responsibility ideals and that he was prepared to man the hospitals, prisons, police stations and sweep the streets on a Sunday morning when he's done. Maybe he was only on the Wright Stuff because it's half-term and our nation's young do not need his usual Tuesday morning maths lesson.
I'm now cheekily burying another mitigating factor underneath all my sniping and must tell you that he said this in response to the top managers' wages in the public sector rather than the bulk of the workers. But there is still something admirable about eschewing a lot of money for something one considers to be more worthwhile, whatever the level.
The vast majority of public sector workers that I've ever met automatically assume they will, and always will, get less money as a result of their choice of job. But they still want what everyone else wants - a fair and livable wage and one that reflects their contribution to society. If, and only if, you don't believe that you need their services and won't have need to turn to them for the sake of your comfort, safety or life, then do feel free to shrug at the implications of the enormous pay gap between them and you.