Saturday, May 7, 2011

We Already Work For The Government

Shown are Barack Obama and Timothy Geithner sharing a laugh about the taxpaying rubes before the Treasury Secretary headed off for a speech to the graduates of NYU's Stern School of Business. His subject before the mutual fund advisors was the advice he would give to all young professionals just entering the work force.

Geithner started off by telling business graduates: "I guess what I'd say is to learn about the world, make sure you try to understand the basics of economics and finance, because it's critical to everything." I'd have to say that advice is at best redundant to former students who now have that gilt-edged M.B.A. It's a little like telling math majors that they should learn their multiplication tables. But it is what came next that makes Geithner a true Obama administration champion.

Channeling Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, Geithner advised the grads: "At some point come try to work for your country some time." Needless to say, by that he didn't mean join a SEAL team to take out America's enemies. He meant "go to work for the government." Don't waste time using that M.B.A. to build businesses and create wealth. You could be working as a government bureaucrat figuring out how to destroy businesses and print worthless money.

Now most of us work for the government every year for three to five months, depending on how you calculate income taxes and all the other federal, state, and local taxes. But given Geithner's inability to use TurboTax properly and pay his taxes, I also suspect that he isn't thinking of that angle either. No, I think Geithner genuinely believes that working in the federal government bureaucracies somehow magically makes one smarter and more loyal to America. Well, it won't make you smarter, that's sure. And it will make you loyal to the government, not to America.

I think that the only reason to go to work for the government is to figure out ways of getting around the government's interference in our lives, fortunes and sacred honor. It is patriotic to work for America. It does not follow that one "serves America" by working for the government. Most of the time over the past two years, it has been quite the opposite. Of course if income and perks alone are the guiding principle for why you go to work for your country, that's a fertile field. Gummint workers are paid about twice what their civilian counterparts are paid for doing the same type of work.

Said Geithner: "The economic challenges we face as a country depend a lot on getting a better understanding of economics and finance so you can get better policy outcomes from your government." Better economic outcomes? What the hell does that mean? My best guess is it means pork, and the smarter you are, the more you can get. But Geithner does go so far as to mention that it is possible (gasp) not to make sucking at the public teat a lifetime commitment. "You don't need to spend your entire life doing it--but it's good for the country to try and attract people to do this, and I hope you do."

Working for the government would require these brainiacs to do the exact opposite of what Geithner cites. They would have to forget everything they learned about accounting, economics and finance since government works on bureaucratic "don't rock the boat" principles and arcane and often contradictory rules about how to screw the public. Alternatively, they could cling to what they learned, then do the exact opposite.

Geithner told the grads that his personal experience taught him the lesson about what to learn. His parents sent him overseas to Europe, and that's where he learned to "look at the United States through the eyes of other countries. That experience is what led me to want to work for my country." In other words, what he learned in Europe is what he wanted to impart to America. Sadly for Geithner, he doesn't realize that the Europeans are awakening to the fact that the things they taught him don't work there, and will be a disaster for the great American economic engine.

As socialism slowly collapses of its own weight in Britain, Germany, France and other notable Continental nations, Geithner wants us to follow the path they are abandoning. In finance and accounting, they are learning that you can't perpetually spend more than you receive, particularly on expensive social engineering that perpetuates poverty and government dependence. They've also learned that simply printing more money only makes the money worthless. In economics, they've learned that Keynes was just plain wrong, governments don't create wealth (they eat it), and one person making real money does not automatically do so by taking it from someone else.

Geithner should have stayed in Europe just a bit longer. Frankly, I believe that anyone who has spent time in government below the executive level should stay there. It's too much like putting the local prostitute in charge of the church choir. She has learned a lot, but it won't help the choir stay on tune. According to the Office of Management and the Budget, there are 2.65 million employees already working for the federal government. That's enough.

If they had asked me to speak (which is unlikely in any event), I would have told them that if they are not going to go into the private sector immediately after graduation, they might consider the military. Sure, they'd be technically working for the government, but they would also really be serving their country. Sadly, it's unlikely that NYU/Stern grads would take the only federal pay that is actually too low for the job they do.

6 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

Wonderful rant, Hawk . . . right in my personal wheelhouse!!

T-Rav said...

Come on LawHawk. Someone has to help Obama decide when we've made enough money!

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: Thanks. I feel better. How about you?

LawHawkRFD said...

T_Rav: I'm glad you reminded me. Even the high and mighty need occasional advice from the other nobles. The One can't do it alone, which is why he has Baron Geithner and the IRS Corps to assist him.

AndrewPrice said...

Yep. I figured out a month ago that I'm work until the very end of May before the governments lets me keep a penny of what I earn. Bastards.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Too bad you're too young to retire. Since the big day, I've dropped to working only four months of the year for the gummint. Of course, it also meant cutting my income in half, but hey, if it takes money away from leviathan, so be it. LOL

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