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ETpro's avatar

How many government employees must we lay off to actually boost employment?

Asked by ETpro (34581points) April 4th, 2012

In the Alice in Wonderland world where down is up and everything works in fun-house mirror ways, we know that cutting taxes always brings in more tax revenue, deregulating banks and energy companies like Enron produces good corporate citizenship, and we have people working for the government telling us government can’t possibly create jobs; slashing government will always produce magic jobs that instantly spring up to replace the fake jobs that were cut.

So must we lay off all 4,377,777 Government employees to increase employment, or would just a million or two out of work give enough boost to do the trick?

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16 Answers

marinelife's avatar


We just had yet another month with more job growth than expected.

Blackberry's avatar

Well, government employees don’t actually work, so they’re essentially getting free money. And only people in the private sector are worthy of the money they earn. It’s completely logical from a republican standpoint, duh. :)

ragingloli's avatar

I am astounded that those people do not see that laying off a million people means a million people who will now stop buying things and thus hurt the economy.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I’m sure this all makes plenty of sense to people who have Koch in their back pocket.

WestRiverrat's avatar

How many is Obama firing by downsizing the military?

dappled_leaves's avatar

Think any Republicans will recognize this as irony?

gondwanalon's avatar

Do you mean “How many government employees must we lay off to actually boost PRIVATE/CIVILIAN employment?”
I once worked in a federally operated research institute for 12 years. On my first day at work there I was being shown around the building I asked the question, “How many people work in this building?” “Oh, about half.” was the answer that I got. I laughed at what seemed like a joke. But after working there for a while I began to realize that it was a close proximation to reality.

Anyway we could start off by firing all the many deadbeat government employees. From what I’ve seen that could be a large percentage. But I doubt that that will boost the private sector employment because such losers would have a very hard time getting and keeping a real job in which they will have to actually function.

syz's avatar

@dappled_leaves That reminds me of a line from MIB: “No ma’am, we in the FBI do not have a sense of humor as far as we are aware.” Republicans don’t seem to be able to sense irony.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@WestRiverrat Not many, as it turns out. A lot of the downsizing will be done by attrition and by not filling currently open positions. So while positions may be cut, very few people will actually lose their jobs. This does reduce the pool of opportunities, of course, but so does any government shrinkage proposed by anyone.

Qingu's avatar

@gondwanalon, yeah, damn deadbeat government employees. They’re nothing like those private sector office workers who spend all day working hard playing solitaire or posting on Facebook or Fluther. Or those private sector executives who work hard looking at porn all day on their computers and then manage to walk away with a multimillion golden parachute.

tom_g's avatar

@ETpro: “How many government employees must we lay off to actually boost employment?”

Right. Good stuff. Like…
– How much water must I drink to fill the cup.
– How many times must I tear my grocery bag to boost its strength?

6rant6's avatar

Hiring/firing government workers for the sake of the economy is a short-range fiscal policy. The role of fiscal policy in controlling the economy has largely been repudiated in favor of monetary policy, namely the amount of loans taken out by the gubernment, and the portion of loans which banks must have squirreled away in dollars denominated assets.

For our economy to continue to grow, we need innovation. So things that encourage innovation encourage growth. I believe that policies that decrease social unrest (and the threat of chaos) encourage people to invest in innovation. Education obviously contributes to education, so long term, education is tremendously important. Good roads, dependable communications and stable financial markets contribute to investors’ ability and willingness to invest in innovation. If the government workers contribute to any of those things, then they are on the plus side of the innovation balance sheet.

But to be fair, spending trillions on war probably encourages innovation too. Just that with war, you always have the nagging problem of people getting killed.

Qingu's avatar

Monetary policy is useless in a zero-bound liquidity trap. Hence the current problem.

6rant6's avatar

@Qingu With prime rate at 3.25%, I think it’s arguable whether interest rates are near zero. Certainly there are investment opportunities out there that would be worthwhile at one per cent that aren’t at four. Municipal infrastructure projects certainly pencil out better that way.

And zero-bound is a policy decision anyway. There may not be political will to pay people to invest openly, but we certainly do it – providing insurance by way of bail out for those who take risks beyond what returns justify.

You’re not saying that cutting government payroll is going to help the situation, are you?

gondwanalon's avatar

@Qingu Isn’t this is a question about government employees? Oh well…

I’ve worked in 6 different medical centers (3 Army and 3 civilian) doing many different jobs during the last 35 years and from what I’ve seen you have things exactly backwards.

Of course there are civilian workers (Non-government) who will take advantage but they don’t usually have enough free time to do so as they are too busy working. And they also know that if they step out of line too far then they will likely get into trouble.

In my job I’m given two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch break a day. During those three breaks I authorized to log onto the internet one time for no longer than 5 minutes. I must admit that I have gone over my limit a time or two but I don’t dare to push it too much. Because if I do, I will very likely get written up for violating the company policy as well as falling behind in my work. As I recall Federal employees (non-Military) that I worked with were never disciplined for lack of productivity and or general goofing off.

Qingu's avatar

@6rant6, monetary policy refers to the federal funds rate set by the Fed. Currently the Fed cannot lower interest rates without going into negative territory.

And it’s not a policy decision. There is a way to figure out an optimal interest rate at which the Fed should set in terms of inflation and GDP growth. Since the recession that rate has been negative. And obviously you can’t set a negative interest rate, so monetary policy has been rendered powerless for the last 3 and a half years.

And no, I don’t think cutting government payroll will help—just the opposite, as “austerity policies” in economies throughout the world have shown.

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