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Risk - LBC Post

When I was growing up in Ireland, I was fortunate enough to be able to stay in school until completion, unlike my parents who were forced by economic circumstances to leave school early to go and find work. Back then, in my time, the dream of any person serious about their education was to stay on in school until their education was complete and then land a nice, secure job in the civil service (government service).  The job had status and security and as far as anyone I knew thought, you really couldn't ask any more from a job.

I didn't land such a job, however.  I ended up getting a job in a freight company run by a family.  That is to say, the family head's name was on the company and his various children were involved in the running of, or worked in the company, alongside employees like me.  The relationship between the family who owned the company  and their employees was a little uneasy.  We employees liked these people and enjoyed their presence in our lives yet nonethelesss felt resentment at our low salaries and a sense of  'we're no way less than them'.  One Saturday, while in on overtime, I, the invoice typist and Jim the office messenger were in along with Finn, the owner's son.  I overheard a conversation between Jim and Finn and it went something like this:

Jim:  You have a great life.  Your father runs this company and we're just your servants.

Finn:  Are you serious?  That's what you think?  My old man invested every penny in this business.  If it fails, we lose everything.  Our home, our car, the lot.  You people?  You won't give a damn about us except for the fact that you'll miss your wages and have to get another job.  All you want from our company is your salary.  You're in here on Saturday and you're getting your overtime money.  If my old man had his way, he'd have me in here twenty four hours but he'll pay me nothing extra. That's how it goes.

I didn't grow up around business people so I'd never heard a conversaton like that before.  It really made me think.  I'd always looked on government jobs and civil service jobs as the type of jobs to aim for.  I suddenly began to understand that the business sector was actually generating the money which made it possible for government service to exist.  In government service, you have job security and a guaranteed standard of salary.  In the business sector, you may earn less money, bear more risk and yet you were actually one of the cogs in the machine that was making  real money for the economy.

Which seemed really unfair somehow.

It seems to be much the same in India, among the people I married into.  They are a community which has always worked in some kind of goverment service or other.  One boy in the younger generation is now a manager and it is the first time a member of the family has gone into commerce. Another son has become an engineer, but is now employed in a private company.

Which is really very good I think.

It's so sad that the people who bear all the risks seem to get less reward - perhaps that's why people really envy those successful in business, who actually reap the reward of their risks.

There was a story going around the airport where I worked that the head of customs and the head of one of the transport companies based in the airport went to the same school and studied in the same class.  According to common wisdom, the civil servant had topped all the class examinations and the future head of the transport company had bunked classes and failed everything.  Ultimately, the brilliant student ended up as a dull civil servant on a fixed salary and the class brat ended up as a big businessman wearing flash suits and driving a huge car.  Well, there's one risk taker who obviously did well for himself!

This is my weekly post for my blogging group, the Loose Blogging Consortium. We post weekly (usually simultaneously) on a given topic and visit each other to see the different takes we have on the same topic.  We are, in alphabetical order, AnuDeliriousRummuserGrannymarMaxi, Magpie, Maria SFocdwriterPadmumPaul, The Old FossilShackman and Will. If you have time, please visit my friends too.  This topic (risk) was given by Grannymar.


  1. Maybe the business man as you called him, didn't own the flash car or the suits, they might actually be the property of his bank! It is a risk to judge a book by the cover

  2. Immediately after independence, India did not offer much in terms of private sector employment due to the socialistic pattern of society evolved by the Nehru government. That hangover lasted well into the late eighties and the early nineties and it is only since then that good private sector employment became available. Now, only weakilings and risk averse/unemployable folk will want to work for the public sector. There is also the possibility of course that in the public sector there is considerable scope to make unofficial income!

  3. I think this is true of small business' in the States. I am however concerned about the top 2 percent and the greed they exhibit.

    Unions were formed to give workers rights and are still needed. Top management really doesn't care about workers low salaries and bad working conditions.

    Oops seems I have been standing on a soap box here. Sorry. LOL

  4. @Grannymar - LOL, you're probably perfectly right. I never found out if his wealth lasted in the long term. It was just that the situation was so comical - funny at the time, if you know what I mean.

  5. @Rummuser - bhaiya, I know what you mean all right - the old 'black' money which isn't black at all..

  6. @Maria SF - Oh, Maria, I'm with you on this one. I'm very labour minded and totally on the side of the unions. It was just a pity I hardly ever seemed to get a job in a union house. The tragedy of my life - I'm not really singing the praises of the capitalist system - I'm just commenting on some apparent ironies. I love to hear what you hav to say.

  7. I do think there is reward in every risk, even if the results you want don't happen. There is the excitement of the risk, as well as the satisfaction of knowing you tried. At least when we are old and gray, we won't have to sit back and think about the things we DIDN'T try.

  8. @Delirious; yes, for all the insecurity of it, risk seems to give you a sort of depression avoiding high that static clinging to 'safety' doesn't. I remember once I left a permanent job from boredom and tried a temporary job for a while. Most people told me I was crazy but it was one of the happiest times of my life.

  9. Good post on both sides of the issue, Maria.

    Each morning we arise and face the risk of life.

    Blessings ~ Maxi

  10. I think if you have entrepreneurial blood, nothing will stop you going into business, and there are many rewards in it, alongside the risks and hard work.
    My father had his own business, and all that Finn said was true in our family too: we were expected to help out, and no payment was our frequent reward.
    Yet, I know my father would not have worked for someone else, he loved to be his own boss. Myself and all my 6 siblings had our own business at some stage or other too!
    I'm now a "public servant", and while the security is good, the bashing (and pay cuts and levies)that we've had in recent years leads me to worry about the calibre of people who will do such jobs in the future. A government and a country needs good quality workers in the public service too; I don't agree with the view that the private sector is the "real" economy..try telling that to someone having bypass surgery! If we all work to our strengths and work together, we can build a good country.

  11. I have been both public and private, large and small. The government is definitely less stress. A good thing these days is that many government workers are married to someone in the private sector, so comparisons flow easily among the cubicles.

    That being said, the public sector definitely is changing in directions that are less secure, but it is like the private sector from decades earlier.

  12. @Maxi - the post was a very simple look at an issue that's probably far more complicated than it looks. Thanks for your kind words. Blessings to you too.

  13. @Mimi - hello,it's been a long time. Very true, high quality workers are certainly required in the public service. This post was just a light hearted look at a matter that's actually a lot more deep than it appears to be. The goalposts have really changed in the last few years and things which once were sure and certain are no longer as they once were.

  14. Yes, times have changed all right. Good to see you over here.

  15. Grannymar is dead right.
    When I was working as an illegal in the United States, I came to learn how much "front" entrepreneurs felt they had to put forward regardless of the reality of their circumstances. So the flash car - hire purchase at a crippling rate, the home - actually a dive, the saving - non-existant.


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