(Warner Todd Huston) – We conservatives are fond of wanting to oust everyone in office and for wanting to “vote the scoundrels out.” But, I’d like to add one more level to the throw-them-out-of-government arena. Let’s fire every government worker from the smallest village receptionist or sewer worker to the staffers of the highest Senator and every menial clerk and recalcitrant paper shuffler in between. O.K., this is a little bombast, but only a little.
It’s not just pique at the famous laziness of government workers I indulge here and it’s not just the fact that the only reason they got their jobs is because they are pals with one politician or another. It’s not just that they are better paid than just about any real American in the private sector – whether they deserve it or not – and it’s not because they are impossible to fire, nor is it because they get a better pension and health care than anyone who really contributes to society… well, OK, it is because of that stuff. All that stuff and more.
But, the biggest reason I’ve about had it with government workers is reflected in an editorial once published by Investor’s Business Daily, “The New Beltway Babylon,” where it was reported that Washington D.C. has replaced Silicon Valley and even New York as the center of affluence in the U.S.A.
How can the seat of government in a capitalist society double as its seat of wealth? The late Milton Friedman, who warned about the growing mix of government in the U.S. economy, must be turning in his grave.
According to the Census Bureau, the nation’s three richest counties — and half the top 10 — are now all located near Washington, where they gorge on the tax dollars you send there.
This is no less than an affront to true American principles.
IBD pegs this rise in affluence in the are surrounding D.C. to government contracts created by defense and Homeland Security programs bringing in people to fulfill those needs. But, it is surely a larger problem than just the temporary need for Homeland security programs. The problem is more widespread than that.
Government workers make up the single biggest segment of unionized labor in the U.S. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, “The union membership rate for government workers (36.2 percent) was substantially higher than for private industry workers (7.4 percent). Within the public sector, local government workers had the highest union membership rate, 41.9 percent.” The Heartland Institute finds those stats alarming. “The nation’s 16 million state and local government workers form a large, growing, and well-compensated class in society,” the report. “State and local workers earned $36 per hour in wages and benefits in 2005, on average, compared to $24 per hour for U.S. private-sector workers…”
It is disgusting that these government leeches make more on average than a private sector worker. It is also unsustainable.
Not only is it unsustainable, these workers are unaccountable. These people, regardless of how well or how badly they do their jobs, regardless of whether their jobs are even necessary, are not only too often unable to be fired due to their overweening union contracts, but tax payers are duped into paying for these people’s retirement at cushy levels that are far and away better than that of the private sector.
As USA Today reported in 2007, “Retired government workers are twice as likely to get a pension as their counterparts in the private sector, and the typical benefit is far more generous. The nation’s 6 million retired civil servants … received a median benefit of $17,640 in 2005… Eleven million private-sector retirees covered by traditional pensions got $7,692.”
Naturally, we can’t begrudge benefits to certain government workers worthy of receiving them. Teachers, Police, Firemen, and Military personnel deserve their benefits as they provide a professional, sometimes dangerous and necessary service — As with everything there are exceptions that prove the rule. But, why should a perfunctory paper pusher at the Secretary of State’s office get a better pension than anyone in the private sector? Worse, how can we stand by and allow government workers to retire at much younger ages than those in the private sector do, as reported in the USA Today story, forcing tax payers to pay their exorbitant health care benefits and cushy, undeserved pensions for many more years than private sector workers get theirs?
And how can we be so stupid as to allow government workers to become a larger force every year adding insult to injury?
Even when we vote out a member of Congress, for instance, we are not cleaning house. Staffers often stay on from one Senator or House member to another because of their so-called “expertise” in the inner working of government. This adds to government inertia. After all, what staffer is going to do much that would annoy the go-along-to-get-along workings that might upset their apple cart. It also adds to the cost of government.
So, let’s do something about this. No government worker should ever qualify for a pension or post employment health care. I include all elected members of government under that umbrella, by the way. Their unions are unconstitutional anyway, so let’s get rid of those, too.
We need to make government jobs less desirable than they now are, not the plum positions of the entire American work force. It is a crime that, in a supposedly capitalist society, working for the government is more lucrative than working for the private sector.
If it didn’t afford the opportunity for true incompetence and graft, I’d almost rather go back to the days of patronage. At least then we were able to rid ourselves of government workers as often as we did elected officials. But, Chester A. Arthur was correct at least in that we need some level of competence in government workers.
All this, though, is the result of creating the Frankenstein’s monster of a bloated, big government, nanny state. We have allowed it to grow beyond control and some efforts to curb it must be taken before it overwhelms us.
Lastly, before you get into your high dudgeon, government worker. Before you warm that computer up to write me to ask if I think it’s fair that you should have your benefits cut. Let me assure you of something. I am not just asking you to suffer a cut in your benefits… I want you to lose both your job AND your benefits. I want you out of government never to return. And I want your jobs entirely eliminated.
I hope that answers your question clearly?