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We've Become a Nation of Takers, Not Makers

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  • We've Become a Nation of Takers, Not Makers

    More Americans work for the government than in manufacturing, farming, fishing, forestry, mining and utilities combined.

    By STEPHEN MOORE

    If you want to understand better why so many states—from New York to Wisconsin to California—are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.

    It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills?

    Every state in America today except for two—Indiana and Wisconsin—has more government workers on the payroll than people manufacturing industrial goods. Consider California, which has the highest budget deficit in the history of the states. The not-so Golden State now has an incredible 2.4 million government employees—twice as many as people at work in manufacturing. New Jersey has just under two-and-a-half as many government employees as manufacturers. Florida's ratio is more than 3 to 1. So is New York's.

    Even Michigan, at one time the auto capital of the world, and Pennsylvania, once the steel capital, have more government bureaucrats than people making things. The leaders in government hiring are Wyoming and New Mexico, which have hired more than six government workers for every manufacturing worker.

    Now it is certainly true that many states have not typically been home to traditional manufacturing operations. Iowa and Nebraska are farm states, for example. But in those states, there are at least five times more government workers than farmers. West Virginia is the mining capital of the world, yet it has at least three times more government workers than miners. New York is the financial capital of the world—at least for now. That sector employs roughly 670,000 New Yorkers. That's less than half of the state's 1.48 million government employees.

    Don't expect a reversal of this trend anytime soon. Surveys of college graduates are finding that more and more of our top minds want to work for the government. Why? Because in recent years only government agencies have been hiring, and because the offer of near lifetime security is highly valued in these times of economic turbulence. When 23-year-olds aren't willing to take career risks, we have a real problem on our hands. Sadly, we could end up with a generation of Americans who want to work at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

    The employment trends described here are explained in part by hugely beneficial productivity improvements in such traditional industries as farming, manufacturing, financial services and telecommunications. These produce far more output per worker than in the past. The typical farmer, for example, is today at least three times more productive than in 1950.

    Where are the productivity gains in government? Consider a core function of state and local governments: schools. Over the period 1970-2005, school spending per pupil, adjusted for inflation, doubled, while standardized achievement test scores were flat. Over roughly that same time period, public-school employment doubled per student, according to a study by researchers at the University of Washington. That is what economists call negative productivity.

    But education is an industry where we measure performance backwards: We gauge school performance not by outputs, but by inputs. If quality falls, we say we didn't pay teachers enough or we need smaller class sizes or newer schools. If education had undergone the same productivity revolution that manufacturing has, we would have half as many educators, smaller school budgets, and higher graduation rates and test scores.

    The same is true of almost all other government services. Mass transit spends more and more every year and yet a much smaller share of Americans use trains and buses today than in past decades. One way that private companies spur productivity is by firing underperforming employees and rewarding excellence. In government employment, tenure for teachers and near lifetime employment for other civil servants shields workers from this basic system of reward and punishment. It is a system that breeds mediocrity, which is what we've gotten.

    Most reasonable steps to restrain public-sector employment costs are smothered by the unions. Study after study has shown that states and cities could shave 20% to 40% off the cost of many services—fire fighting, public transportation, garbage collection, administrative functions, even prison operations—through competitive contracting to private providers. But unions have blocked many of those efforts. Public employees maintain that they are underpaid relative to equally qualified private-sector workers, yet they are deathly afraid of competitive bidding for government services.

    President Obama says we have to retool our economy to "win the future." The only way to do that is to grow the economy that makes things, not the sector that takes things.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...p_mostpop_read
    Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

  • #2
    That article is just proof of where we went astray. We are truly becoming a nanny country instead of a country that can sustain itself.

    It's no surprise. We decided to give money from the many to the few. As time passed, we decided to take money from the somewhat many and give it to the somewhat few. We are fast reaching the point where we are giving money to the multitude by taking from the few.

    Almost makes a person wonder why they work long hours to get ahead. Those people are probably the stupid ones. Many more have already figured out how to get money by not working at all.
    "Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince" - Unknown Author
    ______________________________________________

    "That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves." - Thomas Jefferson
    ______________________________________________

    “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.” - John Adams

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    • #3
      Why work when the .gov gives you food, housing, transportation, free medical (poor taxpayers), education, money for children whose medical was paid for taxpayers and come tax season even give you thousands for not working?!! So what if its sub par services and goods? The drive to be the best you can be and the best lifestyle possible is rendered moot. When that happens the entrepreneurial spirit that was so instrumental into making this country prosperous for long is extinguished.

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      • #4
        It is unfortunate that the private sector doesn't give the benefits to the workers as does the government. What ever happened to the days of devoting your entire life to one company for the pension? It doesn't exist any more. Companies are going overseas so they don't have to pay the insurance and get workers for cheap! They close up shop and move away due to the overbearing taxes of particular states and people are forced to either uproot their entire families or look for alternatives.

        Not to bring up a subject of other posts but getting rid of unions is not going to help this at all!




        World_So_Cold

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        • #5
          Originally posted by needguidance View Post
          It is unfortunate that the private sector doesn't give the benefits to the workers as does the government. What ever happened to the days of devoting your entire life to one company for the pension? It doesn't exist any more. Companies are going overseas so they don't have to pay the insurance and get workers for cheap! They close up shop and move away due to the overbearing taxes of particular states and people are forced to either uproot their entire families or look for alternatives.

          Not to bring up a subject of other posts but getting rid of unions is not going to help this at all!
          bingo
          You can't blame support programs for making manufacturing jobs disappear...

          Manufacturing jobs didn't decline b/c no body wanted to work them and just became "welfare queens" as an alternative.
          they became "welfare queens" because the jobs disappeared.

          Conservatives love to use social support programs as some kind of punching bag, b/c they think its "proof" of failed policy
          But that's only b/c they don't understand the difference between cause and effect

          Comment


          • #6
            We've been over the government union business, I see it as a big part of the problem. Government jobs have traditionally been for less payroll with job security and benefits. It was the trade off that one made. Now the public sector makes more on average, plus the benefits. The public sector does not make money, wealth comes from the private sector through goods and services. You don't need to be a math whiz to see the problem, I think that we're a nation in denial.

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            • #7
              The public sector does not make money, wealth comes from the private sector through goods and services. You don't need to be a math whiz to see the problem, I think that we're a nation in denial.
              I constantly hear people complain about jobs being outsourced yet continue to support economic policies that force companies to leave. In a competitive environment a business does not relocate to another are because of the view, they do so because they have to. If you want the jobs to stay, be reasonable and institute a business friendly environment. Reduce and eliminate government red tape that impedes growth. Not exactly difficult to understand unless one subscribes to the ideology that the government is the root of prosperity.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by dlo View Post
                bingo
                You can't blame support programs for making manufacturing jobs disappear...

                Manufacturing jobs didn't decline b/c no body wanted to work them and just became "welfare queens" as an alternative.
                they became "welfare queens" because the jobs disappeared.

                Conservatives love to use social support programs as some kind of punching bag, b/c they think its "proof" of failed policy
                But that's only b/c they don't understand the difference between cause and effect
                The welfare queens never worked in the first place. Welfare began before the decline in manufacturing. Manufacturing left because environmental regulations and taxes made it uneconomic to manufacture poducts in the US.

                Businesses do not have to locate in the US. You are not going to bring manufacturing back by making workers more expensive through requiring bigger benefits and imposing more taxes. You can, however, ensure that the few businesses that remain will collapse. And you may even induce the wealthy to move to other countries.
                Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by DAL View Post
                  The welfare queens never worked in the first place. Welfare began before the decline in manufacturing. Manufacturing left because environmental regulations and taxes made it uneconomic to manufacture poducts in the US.

                  Businesses do not have to locate in the US. You are not going to bring manufacturing back by making workers more expensive through requiring bigger benefits and imposing more taxes. You can, however, ensure that the few businesses that remain will collapse. And you may even induce the wealthy to move to other countries.

                  Although trying to create a less-regulated environment and cheaper workforce than Mexico, China or any other number of countries is not likely to be good for the US either

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by dlo View Post
                    Although trying to create a less-regulated environment and cheaper workforce than Mexico, China or any other number of countries is not likely to be good for the US either
                    And the solution is . . . ?

                    What is really needed is for Americans to be educated and trained for jobs that use intellectual skills. Technology has made many low-skilled jobs obsolete. It simply does not take as many people to build a car today as it did in 1970.

                    However, it seems that the American welfare class does not want to be educated.
                    Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      post deleted
                      Last edited by avalon42; 03-13-2015, 05:59 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Technology -- especially inexpensive telecommunications -- has facilitated the movement of information intensive jobs overseas or to less expensive parts of the US.

                        There are still plenty of jobs here for bright, creative people. And there are plenty of jobs for janitors, farm workers, house cleaners, gardeners, etc. Americans don't want those jobs.
                        Last edited by DAL; 04-02-2011, 09:49 PM.
                        Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                        Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by DAL View Post
                          Technology -- especially inexpensive telecommunications -- has facilitated the movement of information intensive jobs overseas or to less expensive parts of the US.

                          There are still plenty of jobs here for bright, creative people. And there are plenty of jobs for janitors, farm workers, house cleaners, gardeners, etc. Americans don't want those jobs.
                          Yes, and I saw Obama over in India promoting that fact.




                          World_So_Cold

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                          • #14
                            Unions and taxes asside. Manufacturing jobs aren't going to return to the US anytime soon. Even if the unions and taxes went away I don't think the jobs would come back. Technology and the standard of living in the US today would prevent companies from paying a wage that they would be willing to work for. If Americans want jobs they need to educate themselves. The mid to upper management jobs, trade jobs (like cable, or linemen), or gov't jobs are going to be all that are left. Thats just the way it's going to be but we are going to hit a tipping point before too long. Regardless of how they got to the place their at, there are millions in this country that have no desire to do anything other than draw a gov't check, buy groceries with food stamps, and live in section 8 housing. The system needs serious overhaul. The safety net has become a hammock that too many people are comfortable just lying in. Eventually the weight of it is going to get too heavy for us to support.
                            "Somewhere a True Believer is training to kill you. He is training with minimum food or water, in austere conditions, day and night. The only thing clean on him is his weapon. He doesn't worry about what workout to do---his rucksack weighs what it weighs, and he runs until the enemy stops chasing him. The True Believer doesn't care 'how hard it is'; he knows he either wins or he dies. He doesn't go home at 1700; he is home. He knows only the 'Cause.' Now, who wants to quit?"

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                            • #15
                              Entrepreneurship, international business, and IT seems to be the way of the future...
                              sigpic

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