Again, and again, the far right and Romney have made the argument that government does not create jobs. The center right via Obama has joined him, as recently as the 2nd partial presidential debate on October 16, when Obama was again “accused” of believing that government creates jobs, Peter, er, Obama answered, “That’s not what I believe. I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity.”
Are you ready for this? Are you sitting down? Brace yourself. This is yet another lie. Shocking, I know. Stop and think about this and you will realize just what a foolish lie it is. First, it is being stated by two men who either currently do or recently have held jobs created by the government. ACK!
But, on a more serious note, what other jobs does the government create? Before we get into that, let’s have a little reminder, we are the government. The people who make up the government are us. The money that funds the government is ours. The money that the government spends comes back into our economy. And, guess what, each job that the government does, in fact, create is taxed thus creating a full job cycle.
So, what other jobs does the government create? Directly?
- Department of Defense (“more than 3 million” alone! Or, almost 1%)
- Teachers (3.2 million public school teachers in 2007-8. This does not count Higher education public universities)
- Police officers (approaching a million now.)
- Firefighters (310,400 in 2010 with an anticipated 9% growth, plus approximately 800,000 more volunteer fire fighters, whose numbers are declining nationwide.)
- Air Traffic Controllers
- Food Safety Inspectors
In fact, when taken in total, the Brookings Institute while analyzing the July unemployment report noted that government employment is lower over the last 4 years than between 2001 and 2007. In fact:
Between 2001 and 2007, the average ratio of government employment to population was 9.7 percent. Had that share remained steady, government employment would have been more than 23.6 million in June 2012 as compared to its actual level of 21.9 million. That is, employment would be 1.7 million jobs higher today if the share had remained constant, and the unemployment rate would be 7.1 percent instead of the current rate of 8.2 percent
(As a side note, that’s touches on another lie that the far right has been spreading. The government is actually smaller under Obama than it was under Bush. The only area that it has grown is in the military and defense, which the war hawks ought to love. I’ll let you look that one up for yourselves, since that’s not really the issue at hand today.)
So, those are the direct jobs. But, there is more to the story, of course. There are the indirect jobs. There are the construction jobs for roads. There are the government contractors in the food services, the security services, the building and automotive maintenance, the computer suppliers, both hardware and software, the clothing suppliers, the pest control services, etc. There are so many that it literally takes a book just to list all the varieties. Then, to list all of the various companies that count on those connections requires a fairly large database.
This is not an insubstantial job creating force in our economy, so the claim that government does not create jobs is simply foolish. These are not companies that are “sucking at the government teat”. These are companies that are providing services and for which they are being compensated. Is there waste and abuse? Absolutely. Should we root that out? Absolutely. Is it as widespread and deep as many would have you believe? Highly unlikely, with one exception. In the military-congressional complex. When the military is literally telling congress to stop giving them so much money, and congress continues to pile it on, well, something is rotten in Denmark.
From there though, we have a tertiary affect that is not to be discounted. Anyone that was paying attention when the discussions of base closings comes up remembers. Anyone who is paying attention when our elected officials are wooing new large businesses into the area with tax breaks and other incentives will have noticed. If you live somewhere with a major sports team, or likely even a minor league team. These are the businesses who grow around having as customers those people who are directly or indirectly employed by the government. A military base in the area will support restaurants, gun shops, bars, grocery stores, gas stations, and hundreds of other businesses in the area, simply because the people who are stationed there will be patrons to those businesses.
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