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Feeding the Monster

By Isaac MacMillen

“An appeaser is one who feeds everyone else around him to the crocodile, in hopes he'll eat him last.” –Winston Churchill

American taxpayers are feeding a voracious monster that threatens their very existence. Much like the unwitting tourist that feeds a wild animal only to whet its insatiable appetite, American taxpayers are funding a government bureaucracy that, at its current and projected growth rate, will eventually consume the private sector.

Now, with the release of a study drawing attention to the disparity in pay and benefits between the public and private sectors, the seriousness of the situation is finally being brought into full view.

According to USA Today, public sector employees make nearly 44 percent more than their private sector colleagues, once benefits are factored into the equation. The average state or federal employee makes $39.25, of which $13.38 is benefits, while the average salary of a private employee is $11.90 less—$27.35, including $7.98 in benefits.

This huge disparity is dangerous. While the private sector produces goods and services that stimulate economic growth, the public sector siphons off tax dollars and drains the investment pool. As the public sector grows—and no doubt it will continue to expand, as the Democrats in the White House and in Congress push their Big Government plans—production declines and deficits explode.

Last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that, while overall job growth was in the red, public sector jobs had grown—and appeared poised to continue their growth in the future. CNS News reports that the BLS statistics reveal an increase of about 150,000 government jobs in 2008 while the private sector lost 3.65 million.

And government doesn't shrink. The last time the public sector experienced an employment decrease was 1982, under Ronald Reagan. Notwithstanding the fact that the private sector growth has not always been positive, the GDP has risen virtually every single year—boosted by some form of government spending. And where the GDP rises despite a job slump, there can be only one culprit—Big Government.

While the strong growth of the public sector is itself alarming, the fact that it draws increasingly large benefits from a shrinking private sector has given pause to free market economists everywhere. The simple fact is that such a growth model is unsustainable. Eventually the shrinking private (producing) base will be unable to sustain the pay and benefits that the public (consuming) overhead demands. And government can never tax those it pays at a high enough rate to assure its own survival. It's simple math.

With all the negative attention paid to the bailed-out CEOs, one would think that the concept of over-paid, under-worked government employees would also be anathema to those in Washington. But it appears that such outrage is only reserved for private individuals who pay their own way—not to those who “wring their bread from the sweat of another's brow.”

In short, the American taxpayer is left to foot the bill—working ever longer and harder for those who receive more for doing less. Sadly, this is analogous to what happens when the “Do not feed” sign is ignored by curious tourists. In the end, it may cost the taxpayer and the tourist an arm and a leg.

In the meantime, however, there will be little comfort in the fact that the “public servants” in Washington are far better off than their ostensible “masters” in the private sector. And left to the mercy of government planners, the taxpayer will inevitably end up like the helpless dentist of “Crocodile Toothache” lore:

“And where he went one could only guess,
To North or South or East or West...
He left no forwarding address.
But what's one dentist, more or less.”

Isaac MacMillen is a Contributing Editor to ALG News Bureau.


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