As I was flipping through the various mainstream news channels this morning, I would occasionally land on Fox News (I know, shame on me). I noticed that Fox is apparently fuh-reaking out because it is getting so close to when automatic defense cuts are to go into effect (January of next year).
For those who don’t know, there are looming automatic defense cuts of around half a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Only around $45 billion of those cuts would go into effect in 2013.
If we take the numbers at face value and compare $45 billion to the overall defense budget from 2012, then we’re looking at a cut in spending that amounts to only about 5% — and that is only from the defense portion of the entire federal budget from 2012. If we include all of the 2012 budget, we’re looking at barely 1%.
Of course, as it often goes in Washington, these cuts are being hyped up as doomsday cuts that will cripple the military and, unbelievably, stand in the way of economic growth.
Yes, you heard that right, economic growth. Indeed, the fear that the defense department will lose jobs in an already fragile economy has been voiced a lot on the news lately and many Republican politicians are claiming that losing these jobs would be catastrophic for our economic health.
Am I taking crazy pills?
Government jobs are not productive jobs. Outside of the mess they cause through their job description (busy-body bureaucrats, regulators, etc.), they are a net loss for the total productivity of an economy. Government jobs are paid for through taxes. Taxes come from taxpayers who are also consumers and/or producers.
Republican politicians are falling for the trap of failing to see that which is not seen, better known as the broken window fallacy. The “jobs” of people in the defense department only exist at the expense of the taxpayer’s ability to spend money. For every dollar the government worker spends, that is one less dollar for the private tax payer to spend.
So for those who would claim that cutting government jobs would seriously reduce purchasing power is nonsensical. All it would do is put the purchasing power back into the hands of the tax payer who would use his or her money to increase employment elsewhere in the economy and, logically, in an area where people actually demand those jobs.
Let’s flip this argument to point out the absurdity. If we accept the premise that government “jobs” are just as productive as private jobs, then why are we sitting around waiting for that damned free market to start making jobs? Why don’t we lobby Congress to start a Department of Playing Checkers, Chess, and Other Board Games?
We’ll hire unemployed people to work for the department, pay them a substantial wage to do so, and thus all will be well, since the government jobs have taken the place of the private jobs. Recession solved. Nobel prize to Creighton Harrington.
Of course, this would be ridiculous, government jobs are, by definition, parasitic.
Yet, this isn’t even the best part. These doomsday defense cuts that are going to cripple our economy…they’re from projected increases in spending. Yes, it is that old trick. We were going to add 100 billion dollars on top of the 100 billion dollars we’re already spending, but we’ll only add $50 billion to it. See, we cut spending by $50 billion!
This whole discussion is ridiculous. Situations such as this make me pessimistic. America is not doomed because of defense “cuts”…it is doomed because this economic nonsense has legitimacy.