Aside from essential services, of course. As for the run of the mill public servants, of which there are hardly any other kind, they should be part of the solution to the economic challenges we face. The greatest economic problem are the structural shifts in the economy which will affect private sector employees alone. Maintaining cash flow in the hands of individuals so that they can purchase the goods and services they need is essential.
It is also important that the structure of demand is maintained to the greatest extent possible so that we do not find businesses that will thrive when we return to normal times have disappeared.
If there are sacrifices to make, those whose jobs are never threatened because of public service contracts should be asked to contribute their fair share.
TEACHING MOMENT: Having just finished my first round of editing of my next book, Classical Economics and the Modern Economy, let me recommend it to one and all once it is finally published in June. Meantime.
Recessions do occur but NEVER because a deficiency of demand. When they occur, they are the result of a structural shift in the underlying economy. We are now in the midst of one of the most profound shifts in the international economy ever seen. Just the restaurant trade is facing a major fall in demand, along with airline travel, tourism and lots of other parts of the economy. The structure of the economy is under stress. The downturn which is inevitable is due to a structural shift, not a fall in demand. Everyone once understood that. Since 1936, it has disappeared utterly from economic discourse. I used to think this was obvious, but the reason I wrote this book was because I discovered that virtually no one understands this. We are all Keynesians now, except for myself and a handful of others. But there are others. After the failures of the stimulus after the GFC I thought there would be more, but obtuseness in settled theory is universal.
Nothing will prevent a downturn now, but what you must do is (1) ensure those who are now being temporarily displaced from their paid employment are receiving cash in hand so that they can buy what they need, and also so that businesses which will return to profitability after this disruption are able to maintain their cash flow. (2) It is the structure of demand that needs to be preserved, not the level. The level of demand will fall, but the crucial issue is that the structure of demand will also be badly affected. It is to maintain the structure that is crucial, not the totality. Demand is constituted by supply and supply will be falling all over the place (see Qantas). I only wish the Keynesian virus was not as virulent as ever.