ELDER PATRIOT – An examination of the growth of government in America reveals a depressing inversion. There was a time in this country when government workers were called public servants. This reflected the uniquely American concept that the people owned the government and that federal workers were there to serve the people’s needs. As is the case in other sectors of the economy, the compensation these workers received was more modest than their counterparts in the private sector whom they served.
Under the guidance of the progressive movement, federal workers were granted the right to unionize when, in 1912, Congress passed the Lloyd-Lafollette Act. Collective bargaining eventually yielded wages, benefits, and pensions that dwarf those of their counterparts in the private sector. Good for them, bad for the rest of America. A well-intentioned and sympathetic electorate had opened the door for the almost unfettered growth of government that followed.
Progressives continued to push for more federal control over our lives that invariably led to the establishment of many new departments of government. Starting in 1913 with the Department of Labor, new departments proliferated. These included the Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Environmental Protection, Energy, Education, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security.
Growth provided progressive leadership with two factors important to their movement. The larger and more federal agencies that there were, the greater opportunity to establish a centralized command and control over the people. Of even greater importance to progressives was the growth of federal employees that provided them with a reliable block of voters.
None of this came without costs. The number of Federal employees required to staff these new departments have increased departmental employment in excess of 80%. These new departments cost taxpayers in excess of $1.346 Trillion dollars.
A simple illustration makes the budget understandable:
Total Tax Revenues $2,170,000,000,000
Federal Budget $382,000,000,000
New Debt $1,650,000,000,000
Total National Debt $14,271,000,000,000
Recent Budget Cuts $38,500,000,000
Now lets remove 8 zeros so it looks more like a household budget:
Annual Family Income $21,700
Money the Family Spent $38,200
New Debt $16,500
Total Outstanding Credit Card Debt $142,710
Budget Cuts by Wife $385
Maybe you’re a big earner:
Annual Family Income $217,000
Money the Family Spent $382,000
New Debt $165,000
Total Outstanding Credit Card Debt $1,427,100
Budget Cuts by Wife $3,850
None of this debt includes the unfunded liabilities associated with Social Security and Medicare that has been estimated in some publications to exceed $100Trillion and that dwarfs all other spending combined. The government claims they don’t include those liabilities because they might never have to pay them. The cynic in me asks if that’s why they want control over our healthcare?
Far more troubling is the top down attitude that now pervades our government “officials.” Long removed from the public servants that they once were, they are now arrogant and consider themselves in charge. We are only to obey and pay their bloated salaries, benefits, and pensions. Where the primary business of American once was business, the primary purpose of government has become to perpetuate itself… at any cost. To pocket or freedom.
We have trusted in government to our own detriment. When voting for representatives who champion the growth of government – whether through words or deeds – we’d do well to remember the words of Ronald Reagan: