published Monday, November 21st, 2011

Sharp disparity in federal and private hiring

President Barack Obama and some members of Congress are convinced that the government should be taxing, borrowing and spending even more than it already is. They believe that a bigger role for the federal government is the path to economic growth.

But if that's so, then why haven't we seen such growth as the federal government has spent wildly and expanded enormously since the recession started back in late 2007?

The $862 billion worth of "stimulus" spending has been a failure.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that overall U.S. payroll employment has dropped by almost 5 percent since December 2007 -- even as the federal workforce has grown by a shocking 12 percent!

In just the executive branch of the U.S. government, employment growth since the recession started has been 15 percent -- totaling almost 300,000 new employees whose generous compensation packages must be funded by taxpayers.

"[T]he federal headcount has been recession proof, growing while many private sector firms are shedding employees or just holding job levels steady," MSNBC reported recently.

Look around: Where is the benefit to our people as a whole from that federal hiring boom? Has it put lots of private-sector employees back to work? Obviously not. Millions cannot find work at all, and millions more need full-time jobs to support themselves and their families but are stuck in part-time positions.

Has it reduced our national debt, which today is almost equal to the United States' total annual economic output? Absolutely not! Instead, it has grown the debt.

Not surprisingly, unemployment in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding areas, which have high concentrations of federal workers, is only about 6 percent -- far below the national average.

Considering these disturbing numbers, is it plausible to claim that our nation's economic problems are based on "too little" government? Does that make even the slightest sense?

For four years now, we've carried on this grand experiment in far bigger government, and in return we have gotten high unemployment, crippling levels of debt and explosive growth in the number of Americans relying on food stamps or other assistance.

Some in Congress commendably are urging change -- though they face an uphill battle. For example, U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., has introduced a bill that would permit the federal government to hire only one new worker for every three who leave government service.

That might be a worthwhile start -- though it would be only a start. There are whole portions of the federal government -- such as the Department of Education and the Department of Energy -- that are both unproductive and unconstitutional. They should be eliminated.

It is simply absurd to think that the way forward for our economy is to grow the federal government even more. The cause of the problem cannot also be its solution.

It's time to reduce, not expand, the size of government.

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