Governments Can’t Make Wealth. They Just Take Yours.

I recently read a comment on a site I write for that I thought well-expressed a common misconception most people (even conservatives) have concerning the civil government’s role in the national economy. (Note: I corrected various typos.)

We know that for every two employees who get laid off, one additional worker gets laid off somewhere else. [We do?] US Gov. stats indicate that some 840,000 federal, local, and state employees have been laid off or not replaced. That translates into another 300,000 other workers in the private sector who lost their jobs. When people are not working, they are not spending and paying taxes and more people get laid off. The only way to stop this vicious circle is for the Gov. to invest in infrastructure programs like roads, fix the 30,000 bridges that are deemed unsafe to travel on, replace the 125 year old sewers before they become a major health hazard. This alone will create one million construction jobs and another 500,000 jobs in the private sector.

Notice that “the only way” to fix this problem is for government to get involved. Maybe I’m pointing out the obvious, but does anyone know who pays the bills for government jobs? For public construction projects? Government bureaucracies might write the checks, but they certainly don’t generate the wealth. The civil government has exactly two ways to get money: borrow or steal. (They don’t need to beg… they have really big guns.) They get money in taxes. Or they borrow money from other countries or the soon-to-be-audited Fed.

The only way to help the national economy, contrary to our friend’s opinion, is to generate real wealth by providing a product or service that people would be willing to pay for voluntarily. When the federal government conjurs up projects that aren’t really necessary, or would be better managed by local governments, they invite waste and corruption, and (big surprise!) they do not actually help the national economy in the long run. Governments cannot generate wealth. They basically have to force people to use their services as it is: public education costs more per student than private education, yet our students learn more about gang violence and condoms than they do about mathematics or history. Public healthcare costs us more and benefits us less. Even given the subsidies that the U.S. Postal Service gets from the civil government, they still haven’t been able to elbow out the competition. This is for a service that even the Founding Fathers thought would be public. The list goes on and on.

Personal example (Liberals love those, right?): In almost every city I’ve lived in, we’ve hired a private trash collection company, and we’ve never had trouble with one. In our most recent move, we were forced to fire our private collection service because the city requires that all the houses in city limits use the public trash sevices. Of course, since we’re all forced to use the public service, they have zero incentive to answer phone calls, collect the trash on time, collect all the trash, allow for deviations from their asinine policies, etc. Bottom line: they couldn’t exist in the free market.

And you’re all going to think I’m crazy, but I don’t think the civil government is necessary for roads either. Public roads cost more to build and require more money to maintain than private roads do. No one seems to think that we need the civil government involved to pay for our huge skyscrapers. Why should Big Brother be necessary to pave the roads that lead to them? We already have the money obviously. The government takes it from us to build the roads, remember? Or did you think it was an investment from the government’s personal treasury? The civil government takes some money from people who are still trying to be hard-working, wealth-producing citizens, and gives it to some other people for projects of dubious necessity. And let’s not forget that these private sector contractors then pay taxes. That’s right. Taxes on money the civil government paid them… in taxes.

Do you really think the civil government is more efficient at dealing with money than private companies? How about this… The civil government can just get out of the way. Let us keep the money they were gonna take to make jobs. We can take our money and give it directly to the private contractors to build the roads and improvements we think are necessary. If management is necessary for this, county governments should suffice. This should save us billions of dollars. And should we decide we don’t want to build new roads or electric cars or whatever, maybe we’ll just create some jobs by buying the goods and services we want and need from the private sector. Maybe we could start with education and healthcare.

0 responses

  1. “Even given the subsidies that the U.S. Postal Service gets from the
    civil government, they still haven’t been able to elbow out the
    competition.” Correction…give the facts please!!!

    The USPS has always been a non-tax supported entity of the US government, their sources of revenue came from sales of services and products, I would take the USPS Priority Mail and First Class Mail products over any competitor in a heart beat.

    The rest of your article…spot on!

    • “The USPS has not directly received taxpayer-dollars since the early 1980s with the minor exception of subsidies for costs associated with the disabled and overseas voters. However, it does receive tens to hundreds of millions per year in “implicit subsidies”, such as breaks on property tax, vehicle registration, and sales tax, in addition to subsidized government loans.” Wikipedia… I know. I know. But this is a material advantage over UPS and Fedex, who can still compete when it comes to shipping bigger items. But it is precisely because the USPS relies on sales to such an extent that it has been one of the more efficient government agencies. Thanks for your comment!

    • Really, the USPS gets operating fund from congress because the USPS cannot operate on the monies they collect from mail. They are in the red. On a semi-regular basis I order products from a company in Columbia,Mo. which is about 2.5 hours by road from where I live, if I have it sent USPS it takes 7-8 days, if I have it sent UPS 2-3 days at about 20% more, and they are making a profit and providing jobs that do not cost tax dollars and provide retirement that does not cost tax dollars.

      • Beg to differ on that, as Congress has NOT supplied the Post Office with any funds since it went private. The only thing the government does for the post office is tell them what they can charge for their services and what they will put back for retirement prepay. How many businesses fund one hundred percent of their projected retirements 75 years in the future? That is where the Post Office loses a LOT of its operating funds.

    • The subsidy from the government isn’t money directly, it’s a legally enforced monopoly on non-express delivery of letters. Private companies haven’t been allowed to compete for that.

    • USPS have lost a number of shipments of mine, neither UPS nor FedEs have ever lost a thing. USPS have NEVER paid out on any damage claim, even when responsible, so I refuse to every BUY their “insurance”, Neither Brown nor White have ever damaged anything. ONE TIME, a driver inadvertently left a package for me at another simmilar address with the same house number. It was due that day, late I called, it was traced, the driver went out of his way, retrieved the parcel from the wrong address and I had it IN HAND in half an hour. USPS would simply tell me “it is en route”. White nor Brown have ever held a parcel demanding extra revenue for some technicality. USPS have done this, charging MY customer extra for a parcel that was accepted at point of departure fully paid, holding the parcel ransom for the extortion.

      It is also my inderstanding that USPS receive government subsidies, as revenues for their services do not cover operating expenses. USPS tracking only shows it is “en route”, White and Brown present an exact location, to the point the local office can tell me approximately the location of the truck carrying the parcel.

      THAT sort of thing is why Brown, White, and now Yellow, are thriving whilst USPS is struggling. The difference in cost is now so small I prefer the private couriers.

  2. Ah I recall the days of the pony express…two horses and a cloud of dust,slow arrival of mail, but what the heck it wasn’t government subsidized…or was it? Well anyway, the trains ran on time(?) and mail arrived(?)…

    • I fail to see the point. Are you saying that a public service in the 19th century would have had more advanced technology than horses and trains? Or are you saying that private carriers now are limited to ponies and steam-cars? Both conjectures are false. Your “reasoning” relies on a fallacious emotional appeal to anachronism.

      • Well, they DID have the telegraph, but that only went where the railroads went as a general rule. If your little burg didn’t have a railroad through it, more than likely the only mail service you had was either by stage coach or the Pony Express, for the two years that lasted. Seems once the railroads went transcontinental, they were faster and cheaper than about any other long distance carrier.

    • Don’t confuse modern technology with government. Pony express today would get your letters delivered far faster than it did back in the days before automobiles.

  3. The only jobs i see the government are government jobs. Obamacare, alone calls for 1600 new IRS employees. Obamacare created 20 new taxes. Spending the taxpayers hard earned money and creating more debt seems to be their only purpose.

  4. I’m not sure why anyone is really surprised that Government, as a general rule, doesn’t create anything. Like a leech, the government feeds off of what is already in existence. Without a host, Government cannot survive on its own and destroys everything that it touches in the privet sector.

  5. Remember the USPS is prepared to go to every address in the U.S. six days a week. I don’t believe Fed-Ex or UPS could match that. Is this really needed? No, reduce delivery to twice a week to private residents.
    You missed charity, GET GOVERNMENT OUT OF CHARITY. I’ll give my money to those I want to help.

  6. Will say that when it comes to building major highways and maintaining same, it takes the national government to get it done and keep it going. That was a good part of the infrastructure Obama was referring to. Oh, and how about all those NATIONAL parks. What local community is going to have the extra bodies and money to do maintenance and upkeep on them, let alone improve them? So, yes, the government does HELP create wealth, as all those things bring jobs, and money, to a lot of places in bad need of both.

  7. AWWWW, come on, now, you’re ,making too much SENSE… knock it off.

    One advantage of public road building being replaced by private, is the private could decide the hourly wages to be paid the workers, rather than forcing US to pay some lazy bun forby dollars an hour to stand, watching another sixty dollar guy sitting on a backhoe while a hundred dollar guy directs the backhoe skinner where to put his bucket…. then, when the bucket has moved some, the forty dollar guy sweeps up the slopped gravel so the five forty dollar ladies with STOP paddles can let another three cars go by, while the collective five hundred dollar an hour crew watches for the cute women drivers. In short, do away with Prevailing Wage laws, Union work rules, etc. The private contractor can hire a hoe-skinner who’s smart enough to read the prints and KNOW where the bucket needs to go, the TWO stop sign holders can set down the paddle and pick up the broom once in a while… and so on. I’ve watched private paving contractors work, it is amazing, I’ve alsoo watched government paving crews, it is disgusting. Even being forced to pay “prevailing wage” to their non0union crews, the private contractors do a better job by far, faster, with less traffic disruption, on time, well under budget, and for far less money than government crerws do. With or without the three government supervisors sitting in two govenment pickups, “supervising” whilst keeping well out of the way.

    Yep, time for an overhaul. Or a housecleaning.

  8. You’re WRONG, government does create a great deal of wealth, for the politicians, for union thugs, for illegal aliens,for mexicans living in mehiko, for muslime countries, for black murderous dictators in Africa, for their employees. Lord knows how many others that get rich on our backs, WE THE WORKING PEOPLE of America.

  9. It’s time to shut down this government, cancel all the trade / treaties and bring all our military home. Then close our southern boarder, require any and all immigrants coming to America to have a skill that benefits us, not have them come here and burden our welfare roles. Restart gov’ with people BORN here unlike the current Idiot in chief from Kenya. Stop all the foriegn aid because they won’t pay it back ever and if disaster strikes here, none will lift a finger to help yet we have to bend over backwards to help them. Reduce regulations so that small businesses can grow, and allow for larger businesses to return and make America productive again, since currently it seems we can’t even make a stick of gum.

  10. Here lately the Gov. is trying to figure out how to steal more than they do , because their emperor needs it to spend more on buying votes…

  11. The Russian poet, Pushkin wrote:
    “Wherever there is a trough, there will be pigs”.
    The U.S. Treasury is the trough, my fellow Americans.
    Need I say more?

  12. The health care bill is the Governments legal way of attaching all you have worked for, thepart about health care can be put in25 page booklet-the rest of 2800 pages is about confiscation of all your assets!

  13. THANK YOU for not lambasting others with a different viewpoint. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is so sick of the badgering, name calling and hatred being spewed from too many Liberals AND Conservatives… the emotions are so high and they’re so busy attacking each other, sadly I believe they’re no longer capable of separating truth from deception, which is a sad state for us all. Your “voice of reason” is greatly appreciated by me and I’m sure others as well! Please keep up the good work!

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