When my father was really disgusted with something, his favorite phrase was to say whatever that was bothering him and then add “my foot” to it. Currently there’s a trend in Washington and in the lapdog media to say that we need austerity measures. A lot of this comes from the problems that are going on in Europe, where Greece is getting bailed out for the second time. As I mentioned earlier today, we are Greece.
There are several good articles which discuss some of our economic doldrums. First we have Paul Krugman. His input is always valuable and insightful.
I’m not the only one making this point, but when you hear Republicans saying that what we need to do to create jobs is slash government spending and cut government payrolls, that’s exactly what has been happening for the past year, as the Obama stimulus has faded out.
It is clear to me that these austerity measures aren’t working.
Matthew Yglesias from TP has a different look at this issue.
Here’s another look at the fates of the public and private sectors during the recession. Since the overall scale of private sector employment is much larger than the government sector (and rightly so), it’s difficult to get a chart that shows anything if you look at the raw numbers. So instead, this lines indexes both sectors to where they were in January 2009 when Obama took over:
To me, Republicans are simply reciting something they’ve recited for over 60 years. They hate government. They want to shrink government at all costs. The recession is a good excuse. They sold this bag of goods to the public, but, in reality, government is the problem. Let’s break down the numbers a little better. Let’s look at the number of government employees since the end of WWII.
It really doesn’t look like we’ve had significant growth in the federal government since the mid-1960s. Let’s look at the shape of the curve. There’s no significant uptick. The curve is basically flat. Now, let’s compare this to the population growth of the United States since 1970.
So, as we can see, our population has significantly increased over the last several decades yet the size of our federal government has remained relatively stagnant. Let’s drill down a little bit more on the size of our government, because this is exactly what Republicans have been harping on for years.
The number of federal workers actually increased during the Reagan administration and the Bush administration. Let me say that again. The number of federal workers increased during the Reagan years. Yet, we’ve been told time and time again how Ronald Reagan shrank the size of government. This is a lie. As a matter fact, this data clearly shows that Bill Clinton shrank the size of government significantly during his administration. Look at the size of government under George W. Bush. It did not shrink in size. We hired more government employees under his reign.
So, the take-home lesson from these graphs is twofold. First, we have been shrinking the size of government and that has not helped our economy get started. As a matter fact, we have more people unemployed because of it. Secondly, Republican administrations have not shrunk the size of government like they told us.