Change is frightening but inevitable.
As times and tastes change, old business models disappear, and many jobs go with them. There are no longer elevator operators, or television repairmen, or pay phones on every corner.
But elevators (in private buildings) are simple to operate and work well. It’s in quasi-government organizations such as Washington D.C.’s Metro that many are so often out of order. Our televisions are bigger and better than ever, and our cell phones are much more convenient than the old phone booths that Underdog so frequently destroyed.
In fact, the very thing that makes the private sector scary also makes it exciting. Take a look at ESPN -- everything there seems rosy. The network has more live sports than ever, and its SportsCenter highlights show has become a booming franchise that has even spawned its own channel. And yet, despite large profits today, there are threats on the horizon.
This summer, FOX plans to launch a sports network that will include its own highlight shows. It’s possible that the Canadian hosts of SportsCentre (who are moving to FOX from the Canadian network TSN) may draw viewers away from SportsCenter.
It also seems unlikely that non-sports fans will continue subsidizing sports fans forever. If the current big package cable model was replaced with pay-by-the-channel pricing, much of ESPN’s profit could disappear. So Disney, ESPN’s owner, wants to be ready. It’s laying off some 400 employees.
The layoffs seems harsh, but it’s the way the real world works. Jobs are created and destroyed every day. People are forced to innovate and move from place to place. The average worker remains in a job for only about four and a half years.
However, there’s one place where the churning job market becomes more placid: the federal government. A federal job is forever, or just about.