In the many protestations from Democrats and their media allies about how dysfunctional the democratic process is (dictatorships more efficiently confiscate our wealth and erode our liberties) one of their orchestrated complaints is that government employees are being laid off. They present this as if it is obvious that this will harm the economy. To buy this premise one would have to believe that a government job benefits society in the way that a private sector job benefits society. This is false.
Without going into the numbers, let's examine what happens with generic private sector employment versus public sector employment. Private sector employment provides income and benefits for the employee and it also provides skills and experience. Public sector employment does much the same thing, to the extent the skills and experience are transferrable. This is where the similarities begin to sharply depart.
With private sector employment, productivity and profitability matter. If the enterprise for whom the employee lends her time and effort is profitable, it enriches her employer. It may or may or may not be as the result of her direct contribution but her efforts are presumably self-sustaining. Conversely, the enterprise may not be profitable and the employer may decide to close shop or redirect those resources elsewhere. This aspect of private employment is as important as profitability.
There is another important aspect of private employment that public employment does not provide. Private employment is a conduit for wealth but also of value. I'm sitting on my couch as I write this. Not only did my wife enrich the manufacturer and help to provide employment for those who sold their time and effort to produce the couch, our family gets to use it now and for some time into the future. This ongoing value is a key aspect of our standard of living.
Whereas private employment is a conduit of wealth and value and a feedback mechanism for resource utilization, public employment is a shunt of wealth, value and is largely impervious to feedback on the proper utilization of resources. Public sector employment doesn't by and large produce value (usefulness in excess of the price paid) or wealth and its effectiveness and efficiency is part of the lexicon of our common humor.
So, while elected Democrats and pundits suggest to us the harm that a decline in the public sector will induce, they skip over the part of how those jobs are funded, how they siphon resources from individuals and families and the marginal benefit they produce for society. If it were not for the massive spending and "shovel ready infrastructure" jobs (the same ones they want to really fund this time) they say, things would have been worse.
This faith in "stimulus" that elected Democrats say, "most serious economists believe" is again in order, beyond the demonstrably failed and logically flawed Keynesian argument is really nothing more than a thinly veiled faith in Marx's dictum that private property rights should be abolished. Why? Because the struggle of man is to meet his material need and the principle thing standing between "the masses" or "workers" are those that own the resources to employ. The hymnal of this church includes songs about evil corporate jets, coal and oil, grievance group dirges, spirituals on the virtues of the public sector. This faith compels them to deny the evidence before them in their evangelistic crusade to win converts and to hold on to adherents. Let's see whether their pews are filled in November 2012.
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