I recently saw an article that discussed the economic conditions in Washington DC as compared to the rest of the country. Personal income and wages were far higher in DC in comparison to any state. In 2012, wages were 79 percent higher in DC than the national average and employee benefits were 102 percent higher.
Meanwhile, the middle class in the country continues to struggle, seeing real wages staying stagnant, or even declining.
There was never a bust in Washington DC. Most of the rest of the U.S. saw increased unemployment, a bursting housing bubble, and overall tough economic times. But DC has managed to escape most of that up to this point.
It is not surprising when we think that the federal government collects nearly $4 trillion a year. It does not have to worry about balancing the budget like state and city governments do. The politicians in DC can keep running huge deficits as long as the Federal Reserve is willing to fund them.
I think more Americans are waking up to the reality that they are getting the short end of the stick. They struggle to find work, and when they do find it, they are often required to work overtime or do stressful jobs that don’t pay a lot. But they can see that many government workers are not under the same pressure, particularly those working for the federal government. For this, I do not include the military, which can obviously be stressful.
I sometimes hear liberty advocates write off government workers in terms of making allies. They are sometimes painted with a broad brush. Obviously, most government workers do not want to give up a good job.
We do need to be careful in how we stereotype people. I don’t think we should assume that most government workers will never be friends of the liberty movement.
In fact, some government workers may be even more prone to the ideas of liberty because of where they work. If you see the bureaucracy five days a week, you probably aren’t going to constantly defend it.
Most government workers aren’t in their job because they love government and the way it operates. In most cases, it is simply survival and out of self-interest. How many people do you know who would turn down a job that is less stressful and pays more and has great benefits?
Some people take government jobs because they are otherwise limited in their field of work. If you are a teacher, you are sometimes quite limited in working outside of government.
There are many government workers who understand that government is too big, too wasteful, and can’t solve our problems. They understand this because they see it for themselves.
There are some people in the military who become anti-war after fighting in one. They see the horrors of war and realize it isn’t all glamorous as they once thought.
It is the same with many other government workers. They see the red tape. They see the inefficiency. They see the wasted money. Sometimes they even see the corruption.
Many of these workers are just playing along. They want to collect their next paycheck, so they don’t rock the boat. But this doesn’t mean they support the whole system.
There will come a time when you see more government workers turn against the government itself. There will eventually come a time when there are cuts made in DC too. It will rain on the party there.
It is likely not sustainable for a group of people to keep living at the expense of others, particularly when it is so obvious. You will either see some people revolt, or you will simply see a drain on wealth where there is no longer enough to be taken.
As Margaret Thatcher pointed out, the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money. Yes, that is a problem for those on the receiving end. Either the middle class will run out of money to fund DC or they will run out of patience and put an end to it.