“More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined,” Stephen Moore reported in the Wall Street Journal recently. “We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers.
Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees.”
Yet even with all those government employees on the job, important things such as bridges and highways (generally a government responsibility) are falling into disrepair. “The original architects of such systems are now mostly dead, and we, their replacements, often lack their education and respect for civilization’s protocols,” historian Victor Davis Hanson wrote recently about California’s formerly-great freeway system. “The result is that millions of Americans are simply enjoying a system built for them by others which they are not quite able to use, repair, expand -- or understand.”
Hanson could just as well have been talking about our national power grid. It manages to provide enough juice to air condition every home and office building, even though those who designed it could never have imagined it would need to deliver so much electricity.
Meanwhile, as Steven Hayward writes, some are even working to remove a source of clean electricity. “Today’s environmental Progressives see dams as high on the list of humanity’s crimes against nature, and want to remove as many of them as they can.”
From the railroad barons through Bill Gates, most great American fortunes were based on building things people needed and used. The owner profited handsomely, but we all benefited, and continue to benefit, from the owner’s work.
Contrast that with the Bernie Madoff pyramid schemes and heavily subsidized industries that aren’t held to the same standards for providing value-added products and services at a price people (and societies) can afford. If we want to save American jobs we need to reward those who create them. We get what we pay for.