In their never-ending quest to garner enough votes to stay in power politicians have several time-proven tactics. One of these tactics is to promise that initiatives will “create new jobs” for the community.
This is how a pure government program works. They announce there will be a new $100 annual tax. However, that tax will generate 10,000 new jobs. The ‘jobs’ consist of 10,000 people employed to collect the $100 tax. That’s all they do, they create reports about the collections, they have meetings about it, they have an annual conference in Las Vegas to discuss ways other governments collect $100, they create formal reports concerning projections and trends on collecting the $100 and they otherwise keep themselves marginally busy with all manner of activity related to collecting the new $100 tax. All of the 10,000 new jobs involve collecting the $100 tax that pays for the creation of the jobs.
That’s a government job creation program in its purest form. So pure that if the politicians were to lay it out that plainly and honestly most people would not support it. (Some are so clueless they can’t see the problems even with the purest presentation. Marxist might fall into this category as well as many socialists.)
So the politician’s trick is to blend in some tangible benefit. Let’s say the new workers collect the $100 tax plus they monitor the price of coffee in your region to insure you don’t get ripped off by coffee sellers charging what they say is too much. This is basically what all government jobs amount to, a big expense with – perhaps – some small tangible benefit.
The Problems Are Obvious
1. If you saw an ad on TV for a company that charged you $100 per year to monitor coffee prices you would be very unlikely to become a customer. It’s just not worth it to most people, and if there were a demand, cheaper options would soon enter the market. In the case of the government program you have no choice – you pay for it or you go to prison for not paying the tax.
2. Assuming the new government jobs pay an average of $50,000 per year in wages and benefits, hundreds of millions of dollars get sucked out of people’s wallets to pay for virtually nothing of value. That money might have been invested in improving your education or health or for the benefit of one of your children or invested in productive new businesses, or just buying consumer products made by companies that employ productive people. Potential investment that causes financial growth is redirected into wastefully spent money.
3. After a couple of decades the 10,000 government workers start to retire with fat (unfunded) pensions and the taxpayers have to pay them to sit at home and not work. Taxpayers also have to pay for the replacement workers. So the $100 tax has to be increased to $180. This trend continues automatically and relentlessly.
4. Because the government creates a monopoly in the market of “coffee price watchdog” there is a single point of failure in that watchdog function. Coffee companies can find ways to corrupt the watchdog process. Eventually prices can rise with impunity because the solitary watchdog is more preoccupied with keeping the 10,000 jobs and retirements intact than with providing the marginal value originally promised.
5. Perhaps worst of all, 10,000 potentially productive, inventive, creative workers are seduced by easy money and unsustainable pension benefits into a lifetime useless work that drags down the standard of living for all taxpayers and robs humanity of the positive contributions those people could have made in their lifetimes.
In the end the Government Job Creation program acts as a metastatic cancer on the standard of living and general welfare of everyone in the community. Every year the government workers want more money and benefits, some people in the community agitate to get similar jobs so they can get on the obvious gravy train of minimal work for big pay and they create pressure to further expand the program. Thus the cancer grows larger, draining more and more from the productive people in the community.
Every government program, department, office and function operates in exactly this way to lesser or greater degree. This arrangement can only exist in a coercive environment where people are forced to bear the expense in order to stay out of prison. In a truly Free society this situation can not exist. But we don’t live in a Free society, do we?