Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Wesley Mouch is winning 

The Clusterstock chart of the day is so depressing I think I need a Prozac shower. Small government conservatives will never win another election if this trend continues, so they need to concentrate more on shrinking government employment. That should be an even higher priority than cutting spending per se. Otherwise, the employees will vote themselves ever more lavish benefits at the expense of people who actually create wealth*.

More Mouch than Galt

*The chart is annoying insofar as it focuses on employees in "good-producing industries" rather than the whole private sector, just another version of the materialistic fallacy that informs leftist political theory. But the broader point remains, we cannot keep boosting employment in government without (1) locking in an unbeatable constituency for government jobs and (2) insulating an ever larger proportion of the American workforce from the sharpening wheel of competition.


By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Wed Jan 06, 10:01:00 AM:

actually, I don't mind lots of govt employees. They should just make 60-80% of private sector wages with defined contribution retirement plans (401Ks) rather than defined benefit plans (which bankrupt everybody who has them - see the steel, airline and auto industry).

But of course, they make more and have defined benefit plans. For now.  

By Anonymous feeblemind, at Wed Jan 06, 10:07:00 AM:

My fantasy would be to amend the Constitution making people that receive any type of government(fed, state, local) check/assistance ineligible to vote. Plus a person would have to pass a test on how government works in order to register to vote. If those two things were to happen I am confident the Republic would be in good hands. Alas it never will.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jan 06, 10:19:00 AM:

So we actually produce more government than goods...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jan 06, 12:34:00 PM:

Why the disclaimer below the graph?

The graph doesn't seem to reflect a political philosophy. It just shows what it shows.

Government is still expandin. It will bankrupt the private sector. But not those with the right political connections.

For now those insiders have a credit card from one government entity or another. No shortage of bonus's at Freddie and Fannie.

And plenty of special salvation indulgences for Wall Street and GM.

You just have to be too big to fail. Or know the right people.

Of course the government then seeks to command those they bail out. The big banks have escaped TARP this time. Perhaps.

K Two  

By Blogger Stack Trace, at Wed Jan 06, 12:50:00 PM:

What's the number of government employees per capita? The US population has increased significantly in the 20th century.

Ok, so I looked up the US population history, and used the chart posted here to get an idea of the number of government workers, per capita. As a percentage, it looks something like this:

1939: 2.8%
1950: 3.4%
1966: 5.0%
1983: 7.0%
1999: 6.8%

So the slope of the line is lower, but there is still a definite trend upward. However, note the relative *decline* per capita from 1983 to 1999. Anyone care to guess what caused that?

Does this number include the military? We have a far larger standing army now than we did 100 years ago, and we need and rely on that army much more now. To really make sense of these numbers, we would need to break it down into what *kind* of government workers we're talking about.

I'm all for reducing the size of government (where it makes sense), but it's important to be precise about what you're talking about.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jan 06, 01:52:00 PM:

Thanks, ST. Your point on the military is well taken, although I am not sure you need to go back 100 years. I am assuming that the Vietnam era was the height, but I really don't know. If that's true, then even looking at this on a per capita basis, it appears that the computer revolution did nothing whatsoever to increase the efficiency of the government. And, if you think about it, a large portion of their work is "pushing paper". You would think that you would need a lower percentage of govt. workers to deliver the same services from the 1980's on. Am I missing something?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jan 06, 03:15:00 PM:

Via Instapundit, a Heritage Institute chart that ought to shake you up: Where is our debt coming from?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jan 06, 03:20:00 PM:

And, a very short piece from Cato on why those people living in New Jersey (ahemmm) are so totally screwed: Working for the goeverment makes you rich!

And, remember, most of the true income "earned" by government employees is never taxed (since it is pension contrbutions and health insurance premiums). We should tax all income if we're going to tax any income.  

By Blogger Georgfelis, at Thu Jan 07, 01:27:00 AM:

Comment directed at Cardinalpark: At present, most regular Federal Civil Service under FERS contribute to Social Security, their plain vanilla pension plan, and have a 401K plan which the Feds match the first 5% of contribution. Very few believe SS will still be around at retirement. The confusing part of Federal pensions is the old CERS program, which was in place until the early 80s where they did NOT contribute to SS, or were matched on 401K, but did get a different and *very* nice pension plan (see Ticking Time Bomb).

All in all, the existing retirement system for regular Civil Service is not a really bad deal, provided you stay in CS for your entire career, or at least the last half of it.

The really nutty retirements can be found in the Senior Executive Service (read Political Appointee).  

By Blogger Don Cox, at Thu Jan 07, 09:20:00 AM:

The rising curve of government employees was explained many years ago in the book "Parkinson's Law" by C Northcote Parkinson, who was a naval historian by profession.

This graph ought to have a third line showing employment in the service industries.  

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