Thursday, March 05, 2009

Furloughs better than layoffs

Last year “Bailout” (“a rescue from financial distress”) was Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year. In 2009, “furlough” (“a leave of absence from duty …”) has to be to considered the early favorite to earn that same distinction. But if there’s anything positive to be gleaned from employers’ increasingly common use of layoffs, it’s that they reflect a new orientation towards sacrificing for the collective good. In the past, employers would have favored layoffs, which disproportionally affect the few while insulating the vast majority. In the case of furloughs, everyone takes a small hit, spreading out the suffering amongst an entire group, which reflects a ‘sacrifice for the greater good’ ethos that has been missing in American society in recent years. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

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