Ever wonder why government, especially the federal government, seems to get larger and more incompetent every year? Our friend Stephen Moore and his team at the Committee to
Unleash Prosperity posted two charts in the weekend edition of their must-read Hotline newsletter that go a long way toward answering that question.
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The first chart shows the net growth in employment so far this year.
As Mr. Moore explained, while Joe Biden and the Democrats like to claim that employment is growing, it’s government spending and debt that continue to finance that job creation. This year BY FAR the largest employers have been federal, state, and local governments and health care. Half of the health care sector is also funded by government, noted Mr. Moore.
So, the top two growth sectors are in essence government, and not to put too fine a point on it, but we would argue that the fourth of the top four growth sectors, “social assistance” is also largely funded by the government.
Traditional middle class employment industries, such as construction, professional and business services lag far behind. And if you are looking for a future in an extractive industry, like logging or mining – forget about it. Even worse for younger Americans, the so-called “information age” sector has actually lost jobs.
If you think Uncle Sam can go running a $2 trillion deficit and the government can keep swallowing up nearly 40% of our GDP, then we are doing just fine concluded Mr. Moore.
The second chart shows that the four biggest government unions spent $700 million in 2022 on Democratic Party campaigns.
Steve Moore's article accompanying the chart cited research by the Commonwealth Foundation that found that the four largest government unions, the National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU), spent $708.8 million on politics during the 2021–22 election cycle, with 95.7 percent going to Democrats.
Little wonder that the Democrats that the unions elect of course then turn around and agree to even more lucrative union contracts at taxpayer expense. Rinse and repeat, said Mr. Moore.
And as bad as the government employee wage inflation has gotten, there’s another destructive angle to the symbiosis between Democrats and government employee unions – the stifling of the sound management, technology and innovation that might make government more efficient.
Philip K. Howard wrote in an April 4, 2023 article for Time magazine, “American government has a fatal flaw hiding in plain sight. Public employee unions in most states have a stranglehold on public operations. Voters elect governors and mayors who have been disempowered from fixing lousy schools, firing rogue cops, or eliminating notorious inefficiencies.”
Look at almost any public scandal in recent years, wrote Mr. Howard, failing schools in Baltimore, police killings in Minneapolis and Memphis—and you will find public supervisors who, under union controls, have lost basic managerial tools. Democracy is supposed to be a process of accountability. But there’s near-zero accountability in American government—between .01 and .02 percent in most jurisdictions. Two out of 95,000 teachers in Illinois were dismissed annually for poor performance over an 18-year study period. In the decade prior to the killing of George Floyd, of the 2600 police complaints in Minneapolis only 12 merited discipline, of which the most severe was a 40-hour suspension.
Today’s newest technology – Artificial Intelligence – has triggered a new wave of government employee union opposition to efforts to make government more efficient.
We are not in favor of AI “running the government,” but Artificial intelligence could strip out the mundane “box checking” work that remains in the public sector, while making services and internal operations far more efficient.
So, who wouldn’t be in favor of eliminating the government paperwork delays that cost business and industry billions every year and drive ordinary citizens batty?
Government unions of course. GovTech.com reports that one study on AI in government forecast the technology could automate up to 30 percent of the tasks currently performed by government workers, triggering government unions to claim that AI could become the ultimate public sector job killer.
Translation: That $700 million in public sector union political money is going to be deployed to make sure not one little squinty-eyed box-checker at the Department of Public Annoyance is going to be replaced by an AI that can give you your permit in a minute instead of six months.
federal budget deficit
Failing urban schools