In a priceless formulation in his budget speech two weeks ago, Obama said that Americans look at the poor and say, “There but for the grace of God go I.” And so, in the president’s words, “we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security.”
Except we don’t “contribute.” We are compelled under threat of imprisonment to take out a joint checking account with the government. Ask Wesley Snipes what happens when you fail to “contribute” sufficient alms to Uncle Sam. It’s easy to find him: He’s sitting in the McKean Federal Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania.
The downside of Obama’s exponentially expanding government — to the detriment of the private sector — is that it is now impossible for young people to find work.
But there’s also good news! Now there are plenty of government social workers to counsel the unemployed through their depression over not being able to find a job and to process their unemployment checks.
The unholy alliance between unionized government workers and elected Democrats has led to an explosion in taxpayer-funded government employees, who, incidentally, can never be fired.
In the 1980 award-winning PBS series “Free to Choose,” Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman described the steps required to fire a civil servant:
“In January 1975, a typist in the Environmental Protection Agency was so consistently late for work that her supervisors demanded she be fired. It took 19 months to do it, and this incredible 21-foot-long chart lists the steps that had to be gone through to satisfy all the rules and all the management and union agreements.
“The process involved the girl’s supervisor, his deputy director, his director, his director of personnel operations, the agency’s branch chief, an employee relations specialist, a second employee relations specialist, a special office of investigations and the director of the office of investigations. This veritable telephone directory, need I add, was paid with taxpayers’ money. Who could invent a better protected job than this one — before it came to its end?”
Thirty years later, a civil servant whose poor job performance consisted of only being chronically late would qualify as “Civil Servant of the Year.”
Taking only one performance problem in a single government office — surfing Internet pornography at the Securities and Exchange Commission: In 2010, 31 employees were found to have spent their workdays downloading Internet porn in the 2 1/2 years during and preceding the financial crash that led to the greatest depression in nearly a century. One of their favorite online porn sites was “Fannie Mae Hill,” while those who prefer big girls were at “Too Big to Fail.”
If only Bernie Madoff had posted naked videos of himself on the Internet, the SEC might have noticed him. Seventeen of the porn-surfers were being paid government salaries of $99,356 to $222,418.
One senior lawyer at SEC headquarters in Washington, D.C., admitted to spending eight hours a day looking at Internet pornography. Sometimes he even worked through his lunch hour. He had downloaded so much pornography that his computer was full — at which point he began burning the pornography onto CDs and DVDs, which he stored in boxes in his office.
In another classic example of the left hand not wanting to know what the right hand was doing, an employee with the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance admitted watching up to five hours a day of pornography in his office. His favorite pornographic websites were bookmarked on his government computer, and he had both downloaded and uploaded pornographic videos to the numerous websites he had joined.
Even after admitting to surfing porn all day on the taxpayers’ dime, not one of the lonely SEC employees was fired, nor were their names released by the government, even in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. (Although most of them were referred for membership in D.C. sex clubs.)
These are the true beneficiaries of big government — or our “commitments,” as Obama calls them — not the poor, the elderly, the disadvantaged, and those about whom we say “There but for the grace of God, go I.”
Democrats don’t resent “the rich” on behalf of the poor. They resent the rich on behalf of the government.