The Republican Party has been screaming for years to shrink the size of government, and the chart above shows they have been very successful in accomplishing that. In fact, we now have about the same number of government employees that this nation had back in 1968. That is a cause for celebration among some right-wingers, but is it really a good thing? Consider the following:
* When we talk about government employees, some picture a person sitting in some office on a perpetual coffee break. But that is far from the truth. Government employees perform a vital function, and include such jobs as law enforcement, firemen, teachers, park rangers, prison guards, parole & probation officers, food inspectors, safety inspectors, air traffic controllers, etc. -- and those are just a few of the kinds of government employees performing critical functions for our benefit (and usually at lower pay than they could be making in the private sector).
* In 1968, this country had only about 200,000,000 people. Today there are over 300,000,000 people in the United States. So we have the same number of employees performing vital services today as in 1968, even though the population has grown by more than 50% (over 100,000,000 people). Think about that the next time you have to wait to be served by a government employee.
* If we had just maintained the same number of public employees as we had in 2007 (as a ratio of government employees to total population), we have have 1.7 million people employed today than are currently employed. They would be spending money and stimulating the economy to hire more people -- instead of taking money in government programs to help them survive (like food stamps, unemployment, etc.). Laying off those public employees actually hurt the economy, stunted its rebound, and keep the unemployment rate higher than it needed to be.
It's easy to say lay off government workers, but its a little more complicated than that. By laying off so many critical employees, we have hurt government services and put off any hope of recovery from our jobless recession. We need to stop this madness.
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