Posts Tagged ‘government’


The line in the chart measures total U.S. government employment as a percentage of total nonfarm employment.

As Mark Congloff explains,

If President Obama is a socialist dictator like some say he is, then he’s doing it wrong: The government sector has slashed jobs steadily since the recession, shrinking government payrolls to their lowest level in eight years.* At this rate, there won’t be enough people to run the FEMA camps.


*Even longer (more than 12 and a half years) if we look at government employment as a percentage of total nonfarm employment (which was last this low in April 2001).


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As Bill McBride explains,

The public sector grew during Mr. Reagan’s terms (up 1,414,000), during Mr. G.H.W. Bush’s term (up 1,127,000), during Mr. Clinton’s terms (up 1,934,000), and during Mr. G.W. Bush’s terms (up 1,748,000 jobs).

However the public sector has declined significantly since Mr. Obama took office (down 726,000 jobs). These job losses have mostly been at the state and local level, but more recently at the Federal level.  This has been a significant drag on overall employment.

Increasing public-sector jobs was never going to solve the problem of the Second Great Depression. But public-sector job losses under Obama have certainly made things worse.


We can now add former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to the long list of those who have walked through the revolving door between Wall Street and the White House, which makes Noam Scheiber just a bit worried.

Let’s be clear what’s going on here: Geithner’s choice of post-government career isn’t shameful—there are plenty of upstanding, well-intentioned people who work in finance. And it’s obviously perfectly legal. What it is, to be blunt, is corrosive. There are any number of organizations that could benefit from Geithner’s managerial talents and A-list Rolodex. If you didn’t know how the world worked, you’d have no reason to assume that a large, profitable financial firm had a special claim on these assets.

But, of course, we all do know how the world works. It’s hard to come up with a senior economic official who didn’t cash out in the financial sector shortly after leaving government. Every time another one does, it every-so-slightly reinforces our conviction that the game really is rigged. Geithner, with his unusually prominent role and his pretensions to lifelong service, has reinforced that conviction a bit more than most.

To which the best response is in the comments:

Oh, grow up.  Of course the game is rigged.  You just figuring that out now?

Chart of the day

Posted: 13 November 2013 in Uncategorized
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The idea that the government bureaucracy has grown out of control is repeated so often many people actually believe it. However, as Floyd Norris explains,

In September, before the government shutdown, the government had 2,723,000 employees, according to the latest job report, on a seasonally adjusted basis. That is the lowest figure since 1966. Until now, the lowest figure for the current century had been 2,724,000 federal employees in October 2004, when George W. Bush was seeking a second term in the White House.

Now, the federal government employs exactly 2 percent of the people with jobs in this country. In 1966, the figure was more than twice that, 4.3 percent.


Richard Fidler [ht: eo] reports that the Bolivian government recently announced that workers will be permitted

to establish “social enterprises” in businesses that are bankrupt, winding up, or unjustifiably closed or abandoned. These enterprises, while private, will be operated by the workers and qualify for government assistance.

The idea of Bolivian workers taking over and running abandoned factories is not unlike the enormously successful movement of “recuperated enterprises” we saw in Argentina in the early 2000s. With one difference, of course: in Argentina, the workers often had to struggle against the government and the courts to take over the abandoned enterprises; in Bolivia, the president of the country is promoting the idea.*

Now take the idea one step further: what if the government—whether in Argentina, Bolivia, or the United States—actually supported the formation of worker-owned enterprises, not just in the case of closed or abandoned factories and offices but in starting enterprises from scratch and even assuming control over parts of existing corporations? That would be an extension of democracy within the economy worth talking about.


*Here is a link [pdf] to the Supreme Decree 1754 (in Spanish), which was signed on 7 October 2013.


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Chart of the day

Posted: 3 October 2013 in Uncategorized
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The role of the GOP in engineering the current government shutdown may, in the end, be another case of “when failure becomes success.”

That’s because, as Michael Linden and Harry Stein explain,

The Senate-passed measure to keep the government operating represents an enormous compromise by progressives to avoid a damaging government shutdown. The Democrat-controlled Senate agreed to temporary funding levels that are far closer to the Republican-controlled House budget plan than they are to the Senate’s own budget for fiscal year 2014. Moreover, this concession is only the latest of many such compromises over the past several years.

The Senate-passed Continuing Resolution is about $216 billion, or nearly 18 percent, lower than what Obama proposed for Fiscal Year 2014 when he took office in 2009. It’s also about 10 percent less than the levels in the original budget proposed by Paul Ryan in 2010. And so on.

Yes, the non-Tea Partiers in Washington have repeatedly compromised in order to keep the government open. And, in this, they may already have turned the Tea Party failure into a success.