Labor, Math and Love

Originally Published In:

Fairfield County Weekly (1/4/2011)

The federal government has 2 million employees. Across all states, there are 4 million more state government employees and 11 million more local government employees. (Connecticut has 57,117 state government employees and 108,972 local government employees.) That means there is a grand total of 17 million people whose wages are paid by our taxes.

In the meantime, unemployment is now a big problem, largely yet ironically due to the regulations, laws, and management of these 17 million people in grinding our economy to a halt. There are about 9 million people collecting unemployment checks right now, with about half of those from temporary emergency measures and half on more conventional unemployment. There are another 6 million or so who are unemployed but not receiving any money from the government.

In other words, unemployment is a huge problem because there are about 15 million jobless. But there are even more government employees in America than there are unemployed people. If we simply cut 15 million of the 17 million government jobs in America and returned the taxes to the people who earned the money, we could see how many of those laid off would be rehired at the same wages in a free market.

What if we really did cut government spending at all levels by 90 percent, eliminated 90 percent of all regulations, and reduced the government workforce by 90 percent? Would we be facing double the unemployment numbers from all of the laid-off government workers? Would children go hungry? Would the world end?

Or would letting people keep what they earn mean they could spend more of it on the ones they love? Would it simply mean that unconstitutional wars remained unfought, that our privacy remained uninvaded, that our traveling personal parts remained ungroped and unphotographed, and that politically favored companies remained unbailed-out?

Slashing spending means we can slash both taxes and our debt. When someone offers you a job, you don’t have to consider your silent partner’s cut. Just about all of it would go into your pocket. That means the economy can skyrocket again, once it shuffles off these government foils that trade is heir to. Virtually all of the unemployed, including former government employees, would be able to find better, more rewarding jobs.

The transition back to a free America doesn’t have to hurt anybody. Income redistribution programs could be phased out over a period of a few years, on a strict schedule. Or they could even be wiped out overnight in exchange for a fixed lump sum payment. Would you agree to never receive any Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, ObamaCare, public education, unemployment insurance, etc., for a one-time payment of $100,000 and guaranteed tax-free status for all income you or your children or their children ever earned? Even if every American household jumps at that proposal, that would still cost far less than running our government in the same bloated way we have been for the past few years. It’s a win-win!

Beyond the economic arguments for drastically reducing the size of our government at all levels, there is also the emotional argument. There is such a thing as love. And love means you care about some people more than you care about others. You love particular people; others love others. We don’t all love everybody in the same way. So what is the justification in using violence to force others to support those they love less at the expense of those they love more?

Some people would have you believe that we need government for a social safety net, to help those who fall through the cracks, or to offset individual selfishness with bureaucratic indifference. They don’t acknowledge the fact that forced income redistribution is forced love redistribution. Instead, they say it only hurts a few people and it only hurts them a little bit and they can afford it and they were asking for it anyway and they may even enjoy it. These are disgusting sentiments.

Love cannot be forced. And yet we currently employ millions to do just that.

Maybe it’s time our government pillaged us less and respected us more.

phil@maymin.com
Dr. Phil Maymin is Assistant Professor of Finance and Risk Engineering at NYU-Polytechnic Institute. The opinions expressed are his own.