America’s Growing Government Class
By: Dr. Paul Kengor
Editor’s note: A longer version of this article first appeared at American Spectator.
The latest unemployment figures are again depressing, but not for the usual reasons. They provide further confirmation of Barack Obama’s fundamental transformation of America, specifically through his creation of a growing government class.
The numbers show a massive increase in government jobs created over the last five months—621,000, to be exact, dwarfing private-sector job growth. Those new government jobs account for a staggering 73 percent of overall job growth. In all, 21 million citizens now work for government, out of 143 million employed in America, or one in seven Americans.
The vision and policies and programs of President Obama and “progressives”/liberals are rapidly generating a new government class. The current class—the one that re-elected Obama—is comprised of federal workers; of state, county, and municipal workers; of employees in public-sector unions; of Americans collecting food stamps, welfare, and unemployment benefits; of those looking to government for healthcare; and more. They don’t all vote Democrat, of course, but many do. And Democrats desperately hope many more will. Incredibly, there is even a rising group of young women suddenly demanding that Uncle Sam (i.e., taxpayers) pay for their contraception and abortions.
Most remarkable, this new class of Americans constitutes a huge and expanding segment of the population (and voters) who are becoming not merely dependent upon government but dependent upon Democrats. The more dependent this group becomes, and the more it enlarges, the more it redounds to the political enshrinement of liberal-Democrat politicians.
All of these segments of the citizenry—or, perhaps, constituencies—have steadily expanded over the last 100 years of progressivism/liberalism, and have surged under Barack Obama. Under Obama, there are a record 48 million Americans on food stamps, up from 32 million at the start of his presidency. The welfare rolls have exploded. Unemployment has not only increased but remains stuck and stagnant, with the actual unemployed around 15 percent and rising. Not only do federal workers continue to balloon, but so do employees joining public-sector unions beholden to Democrats: SEIU, AFSCME, teachers organized through the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.
Writing on this phenomenon, my colleague, Dr. Marvin Folkertsma, observes that roughly half the population receives some form of aid from the federal government, a figure that will utterly explode once Obamacare takes full force.
It goes without saying that this is disastrous for the literal solvency of the republic, but it’s good news for those hoping to expand the boundaries (and collective dependency net) of progressivism/liberalism.
So, where does this leave us as a republic? Well, in very deep trouble. Most of those in the new government class become rapidly conditioned to their reality. Easily lured into their situation, they will be easily prompted into vociferously defending their position—especially those in unions. They will defend their status with ferocious loyalty when the right buttons are pushed by liberal-Democrat organizers and agitators (and their media allies) who benefit from their votes.
Ronald Reagan said the only guarantee of eternal life in this world is a government bureaucracy. He was correct, especially once the bureaucracy is unionized; ditto for the bureaucracy’s programs and goodies. You will not be able to undo Obamacare; trying to do so will be like unscrambling eggs. Look at Britain’s National Health Service; it is the third-rail of British politics. Even Margaret Thatcher couldn’t touch it.
Ironically, Margaret Thatcher might offer the lone glimmer of hope. America four years from now will look increasingly like Britain circa 1978-79, when the electorate had enough and somehow awakened and hired the Iron Lady, who took on the government class. In the United States, however, it will not be easy. We will need a leader with the combined skills and determination of Thatcher or Reagan, who will be demonized unlike any American heretofore. Moreover, we will need that leader soon. If this isn’t halted quickly, America as we know it is over.
How long? We have four years at best. Think about it: How many more Americans over the next four years will be employed and unionized by government; collecting food stamps, welfare, and unemployment; looking to government for healthcare, for contraception, and more? And they will be further trained to believe this is the norm and their natural right, and that anyone standing in the way is a monster.
It may already be too late. The federal government under Obama is hiring 103 new government employees per day, with nothing stopping them. These new additions to the government class will populate areas like Northern Virginia, turning Virginia (politically) into another Maryland, which dutifully pulls the lever for Democrats every four years.
Well, Barack Obama promised a fundamental transformation of America, and now we’re getting it.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism," and his latest release, "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."