Federal Employees & Budget Deficits

   By Bob Shapiro

The US Federal Government employs a lot of people – a LOT of people.

In total, Uncle Sam has over 4 million people on the payroll, plus a whole lot more working as contractors. The military has about 40% of those employees, while federal civilian bureaucracies employ an army and a half (60%).

Now, I’m not a military guy, but I expect – especially if peace broke out – that we could make do with fewer soldiers and fewer generals. I know that there are a lot of people around the world who would like to see us dead, so I’ll defer to the military brain trust (for now) on just how many people they need.

The civilian federal workforce is a whole different matter. Over 1% of Americans – men, women, and children – work directly for the federal government. When you consider that only half of Americans currently are working (and looking only at civilians), around 1 person in 100 is a federal bureaucrat of varying level.

The US currently is spending around a Half Trillion Dollars more than it takes in, and that Budget Deficit is expected to expand quickly to at least One Trillion Dollars each year for the next decade. Depending on new spending plans and possible tax cuts, that Deficit might get up to $2 Trillion a year. With a National Debt which doubled under President Obama to $20 Trillion, what we don’t need right now is more Deficits.

Now, clearly the size of the Budget Deficit and the number of people working for the government are related.

Many people would argue that all those federal employees provide value to the rest of us poor working slobs, and I suppose that – in many cases – what they do at work is not a total loss to our Economy. Of course many bureaucrats provide a negative worth, and that’s not just the malingerers.

Since the average federal employee earns around $90,000 a year, I propose a cut in federal, civilian employment of around 40%, or 1,100,000, which would reduce the federal Budget Deficit by $100 Billion a year immediately. Since all those people need offices, cars, supplies, and, for many, expense accounts, I expect that the savings easily could grow to $200 Billion. Let’s sell off the unneeded buildings and desks, and maybe we’re talking another  $100 Billion in one time savings.

“But who would administer all those federal programs? And who would give away all those federal subsidies?” I say NOBODY. Almost by definition, a subsidy to some, but not to others, violates the Constitutional mandate of equal protection. Let’s end subsidies to not grow corn and other crops (or to grow corn for ethanol), subsidies to create wind and solar farms which never can provide cheap, reliable energy, and subsidies for people who choose not to work. And, while we’re at it, let’s get rid of the captured regulators, whose real function is to protect existing businesses from potential new competition.

I expect that the added savings easily would bring the federal budget not only into balance, but into surplus.

I realize that what I suggest is out of mainstream political thought and stands a snowball’s chance in Hell of happening. But, unless you stop doing what you’ve always done, you’re not going to get anything different from what you’ve always gotten. Our leaders have gotten our country into big trouble, and unless we think boldly, the trouble will grow. (Nobody’s ever accused me of being wishy-washy.)


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