Starting this week, 19,200 federal jobs in Canada are set to begin the process of elimination. Of the 19,200 positions, 12,000 workers will be getting pink slips. This is fantastic news and worthy of celebration. Yet Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s latest budget has brought forward the usual suspects of big-government worshipers who rely on the state for their livelihood. Public sector unions are leading the propaganda campaign as the Canadian Association of Professional Employees is predicting that for each public sector layoffs, the private sector will see two layoffs. Such an absurd claim probably has something to do with the fact that the union “is comprised mostly of economists and social science experts working for the government.”
No selective bias there
The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2087 is attempting to put the fear of destitution in potential workers by asserting “the Harper budget eliminates nearly 20,000 civil service positions – costing people their livelihoods and closing the door to young people.”
Talk about scaremongering.
Such demagoguery is not unexpected. Even the announcement of eliminating a
nickel’s worth of government expenditures lets loose all types of emotionally-aimed cries of Armageddon. The media, which receives a large portion of its business from covering the interventionist exploits of the ruling class, is more than happy to point out the plight of public sector workers. Their vested interest lies in making themselves comfortable in Leviathan’s lap.
Without an adequate knowledge of economics or the market process, the layman is sadly duped into believing that any government worker laid is automatically destined to the poor house. Public sector unions, on top of leeching off taxpayers, specialize in tugging collective heartstrings. The human condition often times allows emotion to trump logic. In reality, government employment is much different as the shrinking of the public sector does not lead to a vicious cycle of impoverishment. Quite the opposite occurs. To quote the great statist critic H. L. Mencken:
When a private citizen is robbed a worthy man is deprived of the fruits of his industry and thrift; when the government is robbed the worst that happens is that certain rogues and loafers have less money to play with than they had before. The notion that they have earned that money is never entertained; to most sensible men it would seem ludicrous. They are simply rascals who, by accidents of law, have a somewhat dubious right to a share in the earnings of their fellow men.It cannot be stressed enough that the state, at its core, operates parasitically. In order to function, governments must acquire financial resources through coercion backed by the threat of imprisonment. The state of nature involves individuals acting purposefully to barter and trade the fruits of their labors. In order for the state to exist, it must first take previously accumulated wealth and capital from the private sector. It is on the back of the private, productive sector that government necessarily feeds off of. The state is a vampire forever preying on the hapless citizenry. Those who insist otherwise put the cart before the horse. Thieves aren’t successful unless there are at first riches to pinch.
To believe that the public sector is capable of generating wealth misunderstands what that act of producing really entails. Wealth is created through remunerative transactions only. If violence was indeed productive, the former Soviet Union would’ve been an economic miracle and not a ruinous, murder-ridden disaster hidden under the facade of misleading statistics. Champions of government intervention refuse to acknowledge the profusion of historical evidence demonstrating that economic freedom translates to higher standards of living. They put their faith in central planners, paper pushing bureaucrats, and ivory tower academics; all of which never produced one iota of wealth in their entire lives. Their true heart’s desire ultimately lies with socialism and state dominance.
Fretting over the prospect of unemployed government workers is short sighted from an economic perspective. Societal wealth is not a fixed pie to be grappled and fought over. If the state is no better than a sponge dependent on resources it must forcefully confiscate then money not spent employing tax enforcers and wealth distributors will not vanish but will, on the contrary, be freed up and available for the private sector.
Axing roughly 19,000 employees is only a start. The ideal number of public sector employees in Canada, or any country for that matter, is zero. Only the market economy and the division of labor are capable of wealth generation.
The state is riddled with wealth destruction, anti-social personalities, and an overall contempt for mankind that manifests itself in endless decrees of micromanagement. Success in the public sector is not measured by satisfying consumer wants but by devising more creative and subtle ways to fleece their fellow man. As Mises writes:
Government jobs offer no opportunity for the display of personal talents and gifts. Regimentation spells the doom of initiative. The young man has no illusions about his future. He knows what is in store for him. He will get a job with one of the innumerable bureaus, he will be but a cog in a huge machine the working of which is more or less mechanical. The routine of a bureaucratic technique will cripple his mind and tie his hands. He will enjoy security. But this security will be rather of the kind that the convict enjoys within the prison walls. He will never be free to make decisions and to shape his own fate. He will forever be a man taken care of by other people. He will never be a real man relying on his own strength. He shudders at the sight of the huge office buildings in which he will bury himself.It must always be remembered that emotive pleas for sympathy of unemployed government workers are deceitful on their face. The pay of the public sector is reliant on the private. For every government worker relieved of his position; one or more taxpayers are relieved of the crushing burden of being compelled to financially supporting him.
And for that, we must say good riddance to the soon to be dismissed federal employees. When Texas Congressman and U.S. Presidential candidate Ron Paul was once asked what future did laid off government workers have, Paul correctly responded along the lines of “let them go work at McDonald’s.” Then, at least, they would be contributing to society rather than living off of it.