A Government Job is a Negative Job

by

One of the biggest complaints I hear from big government types is that the Republicans in congress are planning to eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs. Rarely do they clarify that these jobs are in the federal government.

I believe every government job eliminated is a good thing for the people and the economy. In fact, we should think of government jobs as negative jobs, that is, a job that counteracts any benefit of a private job.

To understand why, let’s pretend you were shipwrecked with 9 other people on an island. Obviously, you need to do work to create the food, shelter, and clothing you need to survive. In the beginning, all 10 people on the island will put their effort into securing the comforts of wealth by ensuring that there will be enough food, shelter, and clothing to go around for the foreseeable future.

Let’s suppose that one of the members of the island takes a government job. For whatever reason, the other 9 people decide that having one person do something else besides secure food, shelter, and clothing is a net benefit. However, consider the fact that that one person is no longer producing anything of substantial value. His hands do not create food, shelter or clothing. In fact, the other 9 have to spend 1/9 of their efforts supporting the government worker. The net food, shelter, and clothing produced by the island is reduced by 2/10s, not 1/10. That is, unless the other 9 put 1/9 more effort into their labors, and forego some of the luxuries they used to afford.

If the one government worker is able to increase the efficiency of the other 9 by 1/9, then things balance out. Hopefully, the one government worker will increase efficiency by more than 1/9.

If the number of workers increase to 3, then the island’s production of food, shelter and clothing is all but eliminated. The six workers not in government have to work almost 50% harder than before to produce not only enough food, shelter and clothing for themselves, but the 3 in government. It is hoped that the 3 in government increase efficiency by at least 50%, but this is highly doubtful.

If the three government workers were fired, they would be unemployed and they wouldn’t be earning the food, shelter and clothing they earned otherwise by the labor of the other 7. This would be a tremendous relief for the 7 workers. Of course, in order to sustain their life, the 3 fired government workers would have to soil their own hands to earn their food, shelter and clothing.

This is what is happening in the American economy. We bring people into government, supposedly because not having them work in the private sector is a net boon to the entire economy. If we bring too many people into government, or they end up not being as efficient as we hoped, then we end up hurting ourselves by hiring more workers, and helping ourselves by firing them.

I believe our governments at all levels are bloated and do little to contribute to the efficiency of the economy, while doing far more to injure our productivity. If we slimmed down government to the bare-bones necessity, then we, as a people, would find we don’t have to work so hard to make ends meet.

What is the proper role of government? Protecting our rights, but not at the expense of our rights. This includes:

  • A modest court system, with clear and easily understood, common laws;
  • A military, largely composed of all able-bodied males, that stands ready to protect us from threats foreign and domestic;
  • A congress who regulates trade, meaning, facilitates trade between the states, and issues currency to keep the economy working efficiently.

As I hear about Republicans cutting government jobs, I rejoice. Yes, the government worker is sad he can no longer live off of the labor of others, seized by government force. But as he learns to become a productive member of society, everyone else will benefit.

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