Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Problem for "Progressives"

A recent NPR article What Americans Do for Work outlines a troubling trend for "Progressives" and a "told ya so" moment for Conservatives.   Over the past 40 years, the shift of employment has moved from making things to governing things.  Meaning, government workers are now the highest percentage of workers in America.

Now, there are plenty of caveats that ensures this is not nearly as bad as the report shows at face value:  Total percentage who work in Government services, in fact, is down over the past 40 years.  It's just that it's higher than any other category.  Also, this Government slice includes military, and we know that's been a boom industry over the past 10 years.

But the troubling sign for "Progressives" (I'll get to why I keep putting this term in quotes soon enough) is that while traditional building-type jobs have shrunk due to economic hardships, it shows how resilient government jobs are to change.  From a raw unemployment perspective, this is actually not such a bad thing.  But from a responsiveness to reality perspective, it does show that government just doesn't live in the "real world" -- it exists in a bubble that just doesn't respond to dynamics like other industries.  Which means it's just not going to be setup, aligned, or managed to support contemporary situations.

Ultimately, this is not a Progressive problem -- Progressivism should be based on progress -- progress toward fairness, equality, and ensuring opportunities are available to those who don't get a head start based on birth right alone.  Progressiveness should have absolutely nothing to do with who solves this problem.  It doesn't have to be government.  It just so happens that today's Progressives tend to link government solutions with progressive outcomes.

And before Conservatives jump on this like kids on candy, let's all remember that the overall percent of people who work in government and military has actually gone down in total (which is pretty remarkable considering how much larger a country we are now), and most of this industrial slump is a result of an unfettered free market system working hard to weed out inefficiencies.  Many of those inefficiencies just so happen to be American citizens.