People say they want smaller government. Presidents usually try to find a way to claim that somehow their administration has resulted in smaller government. By this, they usually mean the number of government jobs.
Government employment probably has gone down. But people, keep in mind, the government is still doing lots of things, but instead of paying someone $60,000 a year to do something, that work has now been privatized and we pay some contractor $400,000 instead. You think that's progress?
This works out quite well for private contractors, most of whom are 1%-ers. Which means that "smaller government" really means another way of shoveling taxpayer dollars into the hands of the wealthy.
The people who advocate for smaller government are, generally speaking, no friend of the working man or woman.
The recall petition against Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin will be turned in next week and may have as many as 1.5 million signatures.
The population of Wisconsin is about 5.6 million, of which 75%, or 4.2 million, are over 18 and thus eligible to vote. 1.5 million signatures would represent just over 35% of the total potential voting population of 4.2 million, which means that over one third of the state of Wisconsin have already signed their names, and their sacred honor, to the proposition that Governor Walker be thrown out of office.
Rep. Daniel Kagan (D-Cherry Hills) unveiled a proposal on Sunday which would connect job data collected by the Department of Labor to be shared with vocational technical schools and colleges.
"Companies sometimes have a hard time finding well-qualified applicants to fill jobs, and Colorado's well-qualified applicants are having a hard time finding those companies," Kagan said. "This bill seeks to bridge that gap."
Rep. Mark Farrandino (D-Denver) is co-sponsor of a bill, along with Rep. Dave Young (D-Greeley), which would help identify promising new technologies at Colorado universities and research centers, and move those technologies out of the lab and into the market.
Today, House Democrats rolled out their third jobs-growth initiative, one which would reform and streamling Medicaid. These are all part of a package to, as Rep. Mark Farrandino puts it, "focus with laser-like intensity" on job creation.
Up to 15%, the highest level since 1993. Not that anyone should be surprised. Unemployment and indifference will cause the level of poverty to rise every time.
According to the CIA, the countries with a lower level of poverty than the United States include, but are not limited to: Albania, Azerbaijan, Chile, Denmark, France, Hungary, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam.
Texas took the stimulus money and spent it on jobs. They lost jobs in the private sector, but gained jobs in the government sector. That's the way it's supposed to work, and it did.
The same would be true in other states as well, of course, but using Texas as a model to demonstrate Keynesian economics is too rich to resist.
Then, when the economy recovers, private sector employment goes up, and government employment goes back down. In the meantime, the blow of the recession has been cushioned at least somewhat by government intervention.
In my high school years in the mid-1960's, my government, civics, and history teachers were mostly football coaches. I didn't learn a lot of history from any of them, but, on the other hand, no identifiable group more closely reflects "default white guy opinion" than football coaches.
They taught, and I still believe, that the American government is, or should be, a force for good in the world. (These flaming liberals also taught that the United Nations was a good thing.)
That positive view of government started to wane in the 1970's. The first time I heard an anti-government joke--"I'm from the federal government and I'm here to help you"--was 1972, and it was told by then Cong. Bob Dole.
This was only a few years after the American government took the side of black people in the civil rights legislation of the 1960's. Coincidence?
Nowadays, people fall all over themselves to see just how anti-government they can be. The GOP presidential contest is basically about which candidate is the most rabid on the question, even as they, at the same time, lust for leadership of that government.
This morning, speaking at an International Association of Fire Fighters conference in Manhattan, the former President had some remarks on the subject:
"I got tickled by watching Governor Perry announce for governor, for president...He's a good looking rascal."
"And he's saying 'Oh, I'm going to Washington to make sure that the federal government stays as far away from you as possible -- while I ride on Air Force One and that Marine One helicopter and go to Camp David and travel around the world and have a good time.' I mean, this is crazy."
Some have made an entire career in politics out of hating the government. They spend millions and millions to get office, and stay in office, in order to be an influential figure in an entity they, at the same time, consider the Whore of Babylon. (Many of them are southerners whose states receive far more from federal taxes than they pay in to our common coffer.)
Don't like government? Try a country without one--say, Somalia, for example.
We are not on a "spending binge"--would that we were! What's more, spending does not "destroy jobs." Spending creates jobs.
In a recession or depression, the government should spend precisely because other sectors do not or can not. Banks and business don't. The people can't. Yet, when spending pulls back, that only makes the problem worse. Somebody needs to spend something, and the government is the only entity that can.
Critics say, quite predictably, that it wasn't the New Deal that pulled the country out of depression, but rather World War II.
Set aside for the moment whether or not this is true, and recognize that this very point concedes the argument. How did World War II help the economy? By massive government spending. This caused huge deficits, bigger than now, which was paid down after the war by having more people in more jobs. Moreover, government spending on great national tasks, such as defense and the interstate highway system, helped.
To the previous point, with one exception, unemployment went down every year from 1933-1940 thanks to FDR's New Deal policies. In 1937, FDR bowed to conservative pressure and cut back government spending. Unemployment went up in 1938.