Thingish Things

Nation of Takers

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Apr• 01•11

Stephen Moore at The Wall Street Journal wrote this terrific editorial today about the correlating growth of  government jobs and the decrease in manufacturing positions in the U.S. over the past several decades.  Moore, the former President of Club for Growth, is a brilliant writer and an affable voice for fiscal responsibility in America.

Here is an excerpt from his piece today:

“If you want to understand better why so many states—from New York to Wisconsin to California—are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.

It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills?”

The fix to this trend, of course, is not easy.  And there is considerable disagreement over the best way to attract or retain manufacturing jobs in the U.S. over the long term.  But here is a big-picture issue very much worth discussing in, say,  the upcoming presidential race.

Mr. Moore lays it out plainly for any serious candidate to pounce upon.


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  1. Your Friend says:

    Really these are two separate issues and it’s a bit of a sleight of hand to conflate them. The reason there are twice as many government workers today is because there are twice as many people. In point of fact, the population in 1960 was 45% of what it is today (150M compared to 330M), so there are actually fewer govenment jobs relative to the population today then there were in 1960. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    As for manufacturing, is that really such a bad thing? I’m not sure there are many white collar workers who would rather be living in West Virginia working at the local smelter. But maybe I’m wrong.

    Cheers to the weekend.

  2. Me says:

    And then there’s the fact that we’re now living in the so-called intangibles economy…

  3. Nick says:

    I don’t think the people losing manufacturing jobs are moving into better paying “white collar” jobs. They are taking big pay cuts to move into service positions if they can find work. Also remember that manufacturing produces jobs for “white collar” workers as well. The American business culture/leadership decided to get out of manufacturing. That, I think, is the story here.

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