A Nation of Takers, Not Makers

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from ThinkSnow99. Show ThinkSnow99's posts

    A Nation of Takers, Not Makers


    If you want to understand better why so many states—from New York to Wisconsin to California—are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.

    It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills?
    Don't expect a reversal of this trend anytime soon. Surveys of college graduates are finding that more and more of our top minds want to work for the government. Why? Because in recent years only government agencies have been hiring, and because the offer of near lifetime security is highly valued in these times of economic turbulence. When 23-year-olds aren't willing to take career risks, we have a real problem on our hands. Sadly, we could end up with a generation of Americans who want to work at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

    The employment trends described here are explained in part by hugely beneficial productivity improvements in such traditional industries as farming, manufacturing, financial services and telecommunications. These produce far more output per worker than in the past. The typical farmer, for example, is today at least three times more productive than in 1950.

    Where are the productivity gains in government? Consider a core function of state and local governments: schools. Over the period 1970-2005, school spending per pupil, adjusted for inflation, doubled, while standardized achievement test scores were flat. Over roughly that same time period, public-school employment doubled per student, according to a study by researchers at the University of Washington. That is what economists call negative productivity

    But education is an industry where we measure performance backwards: We gauge school performance not by outputs, but by inputs. If quality falls, we say we didn't pay teachers enough or we need smaller class sizes or newer schools. If education had undergone the same productivity revolution that manufacturing has, we would have half as many educators, smaller school budgets, and higher graduation rates and test scores.

    The same is true of almost all other government services. Mass transit spends more and more every year and yet a much smaller share of Americans use trains and buses today than in past decades. One way that private companies spur productivity is by firing underperforming employees and rewarding excellence. In government employment, tenure for teachers and near lifetime employment for other civil servants shields workers from this basic system of reward and punishment. It is a system that breeds mediocrity, which is what we've gotten.

    Most reasonable steps to restrain public-sector employment costs are smothered by the unions. Study after study has shown that states and cities could shave 20% to 40% off the cost of many services—fire fighting, public transportation, garbage collection, administrative functions, even prison operations—through competitive contracting to private providers. But unions have blocked many of those efforts. Public employees maintain that they are underpaid relative to equally qualified private-sector workers, yet they are deathly afraid of competitive bidding for government services.

    President Obama says we have to retool our economy to "win the future." The only way to do that is to grow the economy that makes things, not the sector that takes things.

  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from lawboy. Show lawboy's posts

    Re: A Nation of Takers, Not Makers

    There are a potentially 1000s of jobs in the rebuilding of the infrastructure we discussed in another thread. Private construction firms, architects to laborers. But no-one wants to commit the money. 2-4 trillion to upgrade to adequate and another trillion to make improvements. 

    Do it all from here. The steel, the lumber, the equipment no foreign investment or materials. The suppliers would gain jobs, as would all other businesses.
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  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from lawboy. Show lawboy's posts

    Re: A Nation of Takers, Not Makers

    It has to come from somewhere, where I don't have the answer. All the methods in the past such as bonds, taxes, fees or private monies don't seem to work anymore. Do we as a nation have to build a bridge then charge for its use? same for all roads, sewer, water...maybe  I don't know, but I do know one thing no more borrowing especially from China.
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from lawboy. Show lawboy's posts

    Re: A Nation of Takers, Not Makers

    China spends 5% of their GDP on infrastructure, the U.S. 1.5%
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from MattyScornD. Show MattyScornD's posts

    Re: A Nation of Takers, Not Makers

    The rest of the country seems to have decided already...

    ...sell off our infrastructure to the highest foreign bidders, piece-by-piece.
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from massmoderateJoe. Show massmoderateJoe's posts

    Re: A Nation of Takers, Not Makers

    In Response to Re: A Nation of Takers, Not Makers:
    China spends 5% of their GDP on infrastructure, the U.S. 1.5%
    Posted by lawboy

    It's like the old Fram Oil Filter Ad; you can pay me know or later.  The US's model is wait until it breaks and then replace the whole thing; I35W experience. 

  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from BobinVa. Show BobinVa's posts

    Re: A Nation of Takers, Not Makers

    Thanks to the liberals and environmental zealots, we are incapable of building infrastructure.
    Back in the 1950s, Ike built the Interstate Highway System, with manual labor. He had no EPA, "environmental" army of attorneys, lawsuits or crooked public unions. 

    Today, there is mountains of paperwork, regulations, lawyers. It takes years to even start. Then you get to deal with crooked featherbedding unions.

    The Big Dig is the ultimate example of the ridiculous. 
    Best line of all time was Barney Frank's statement when told they want to dig a tunnel under Boston: 
    "It would be cheaper to raise the city"
    He was right.
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from Fafhrd. Show Fafhrd's posts

    Re: A Nation of Takers, Not Makers

    "Thanks to the liberals and environmental zealots, we are incapable of building infrastructure"- Another unproven, random allegation meaning nothing other than the author is lazy and can't back up his words.  How many monkeys does it take to come up with the useless garbage you crap all over these boards?

    Why bother with persuasive arguments when you can just throw a bunch of bs in a post and pretend like you said something?  How many of those near 5000 posts had anything even approaching an original thought or backed up statement?  Isn't there a VA paper's forums where you can make up nonsense and act like everybody accepts your borrowed Howie Carr assumptions as fact?
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from lawboy. Show lawboy's posts

    Re: A Nation of Takers, Not Makers

    Fafhrd~ I wish I got dollar every time the BoobinVA said crooked unions, Barney Frank, liberal zealots I'd be rich.