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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Government Jobs

I grew up near the nation's capital, when my father worked for the government in a scientific type of capacity. (My family no longer lives there or works for the government.) I was witness to the tremendous growth in that region as government expanded. New developments, skyrocketing property values, new retail stores, horrifically compounding traffic. I didn't understand the reason for the growth at the time, of course. I do remember my father mentioning that the budget in their department went up automatically 10% from the previous year, each year. "Why?" I asked. "I don't know, it just does," was his reply. What I have since learned is that Congress voted in the 70's to raise the budgets for each branch of the federal government. This is without regard to tax revenue or demonstrable need for an increase. Just a given, 10% annual growth of each department. You know that recent report about the only housing market which hasn't burst? That's Washington D. C. for you. It reflects how disjointed the government is from the rest of the country.

I did a series of internships in the summers, for the government labs. The prevailing work ethic eas tremendously different than what I anticipated from my own father's example. People showed up late and left early. Some people worked hard, but certainly not most. One of my own supervisors was tremendously lazy. He'd talk in the hall for hours at a time. He said, when I asked him about his work ethic, something to this effect.  "Why would I work hard- it's a government job! They can't fire me!"  I've seen this attitude in more branches than only government labs.

This because a defining realization in my life. A dichotomy between what I thought I wanted- grant money for research, and knowing that the growth of government at this rate was unsustainable. We're paying the consequences for this heavy-handed spending, now. Our economy is really struggling, and the government feeds off the economy to the point where we can't quite get back up on our feet. And we still haven't cut government down to size! Imagine how burdensome this spending will be without a balanced budget amendment in five years, in ten?  Think carefully about whether you'd really like to see our federal deficit balloon to $100T in the near future. Then think carefully about whether all government services or government beaurocracy are really necessary. And vote accordingly.

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