Archive for March 1st, 2013

One of my favorite political cartoons is this Michael Ramirez gem showing President Obama following the European lemmings over the cliff of statism.

But this isn’t a laughing matter. As shown in this remarkable graph on global living standards, Americans enjoy significantly more consumption than their European counterparts.

And here’s another set of charts showing a big gap between the United States and Europe.

So the obvious question is whether we should copy the statist policies of our cousins across the Atlantic.

This video explores some of the possible consequences.

The video should make us contemplate the importance of cultural attitudes.

Values such as the work ethic, the spirit of self reliance, and personal responsibility are all form of social capital that help an economy prosper.

But if social capital begins to erode, restoring it is a bit like trying to put toothpaste back in a tube.

So while I obviously think tax and spending policy is important, pro-growth fiscal policy may not mean much in a society where dependency and mooching are considered acceptable lifestyles.

Which is why the third and fourth lessons in this video on the European fiscal crisis are very important.

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When I first read this story in the Washington Post about supposedly under-appreciated federal bureaucrats, I was tempted to focus on the sentence referring to “the sledgehammer of budget cuts scheduled to hit today.”

Is the Washington Post so biased and/or clueless that reporters really think that a 1.2 percent reduction in overall spending for the current fiscal year (which means the federal budget would still be larger than it was last year) represents a “sledgehammer of budget cuts”?

But I just mocked the New York Times last week for its reporting about supposed “deep spending cuts” and I also nailed the Washington Post back in 2011 for using the term “slash” for a budget plan that would have shaved a miniscule $6 billion from a budget of $3,800 billion.

So instead I want to focus on the part of the story featuring self-pitying remarks of federal bureaucrats. Here’s a good sampling.

…federal workers in Mantua say…having “United States Treasury” atop their paycheck [now] means having to defend yourself against arguments, from strangers and even from your own relatives, that you’re an overpaid and underworked leech. …many federal workers are…bothered by the growing sense that the careers they chose may now seem unattractive, even unworthy. …on a recent visit to Missouri, he got fed up with ritual denunciations of federal workers… Won, a federal worker for 31 years, resents the notion, now commonplace on talk radio and Web sites devoted to bashing the government, that federal workers carry a lighter load than their for-profit counterparts. …older government workers…are concerned about their pensions but even more anxious about why politicians are so willing to make federal employees the target of popular rage.

Excuse me while I wipe away the tears and compose myself. There are so many stories of unbearable hardship.

  • It’s absolutely heartbreaking to read about those unfortunate, oppressed, and under-appreciated bureaucrats who live in “a leafy section of Fairfax County where houses sell in the $700,000 range.”
  • And you can understand my tears of sympathy for folks who, as one bureaucrat admitted, had jobs where the “pay was guaranteed and you couldn’t get laid off.”
  • Moreover, we all share the pain of bureaucrats who must deal with uncomfortable comparisons, such as the fact that “pensions, once considered routine, have become a wild luxury in the private sector, so when many Americans hear that public employees still get retirement pay, they can get frustrated.”

Perhaps we can create a civilian version of the Medal of Honor, given to the bureaucrat who suffers the most because of the “sledgehammer” cuts and those mean people on “web sites.”

Indeed, I think we have our first recipient. But brace yourself before you read this passage. The anguish and suffering may haunt you for the rest of your life. This bureaucrat is enduring unimaginable hardship.

..has already cut back in anticipation of the forthcoming budget slashing: He told a carpenter who was going to build bookshelves in the living room that the $5,000 job will have to be put off, and he told his doggie day care provider that he’ll have to go without that service when the furloughs kick in.

Oh my God! Not only are we failing to appreciate government bureaucrats, but the “budget slashing” will lead to neglected pets as well. What sort of cruel and heartless society have we become?!?

And imagine the Keynesian death spiral that will occur when the carpenter and dog walker then have to cut back on their purchases? Maybe we need to take Bastiat’s advice and go break some windows!

Edwards Bureaucrat Pay ComparisonTo make matters worse, there are mean-spirited people such as Chris Edwards at places such as the Cato Institute that have the nerve to point out that federal bureaucrats get about twice the overall level of compensation as those in the productive sector of the economy.

How can that man sleep at night after making such an invidious comparison?

But there’s another cad at the Cato Institute who actually had the nerve to narrate this video, which unfairly uses facts and data to show that the federal workforce is over-compensated.

Worst of all, he actually suggests at the end of the video is that the real problem is that the federal government is far too large. What sort of place would employ such unreasonable folks?

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