In a recent broadcast Rush Limbaugh (once again) said something stupid, that demonstrates his overall cluelessness:
They’re combining two things here: A, the never-ending appeal to tax revenue for firemen, cops, and teachers. That is the education of your kids and the safety you and your house and your family. And they’re trying to say that those jobs are being cut and now we’re not safe and your kids aren’t being educated. And that’s because the private sector’s been too selfish and too greedy and so forth. (pause) Look, folks, this is where I have to be very careful. Nobody’s opposed to cops or firefighters or teachers.
But they aren’t private sector jobs. They do not contribute to economic growth. Their purpose is otherwise. They have an entirely different purpose: Public safety, public education, this kind of thing. But there’s no growth in the economy. If you add those jobs — and if there aren’t other types of private sector jobs added while at the same time we’re adding to the fire rolls and the cop rolls and teachers — we are reducing the size of the private sector. This is Marxism 101. It’s also Ignorance and Sophistry 101.
This was his attempted defense of Mitt Romney’s statement:
Romney said of Obama, “he wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”
Apparently neither one of them bothered to look at some real people, or ask real economic questions. As Jason Easley points out:
However, Rush’s biggest Econ 101 fail was the idea that police and firefighters don’t contribute to economic growth. Each public sector job adds value to the economy. Public sector employees take their paycheck and pay the mortgage/rent, buy food, and support their families. All of that money goes back into the economy. When a public sector employee orders a pizza or goes to the mall, or gets their car fixed at the garage, just like a private sector employee, they are adding to the economy
Even more of a failure was an understanding of what businesses look for, and need. For example, if you look at what states are considered “the worst for business” (several business magazines do them) the usual list of the bottom contains those who also rank near the bottom when it comes to education. Did Rush or Mitt ever notice that for all the Right’s screaming about taxes and the evils of “liberal colleges,” that businesses tend to be clustered around those very same colleges? That they actually move to those places, even considering the tax burden? Businesses today need an educated workforce, and places that don’t provide one aren’t going to be drawing much in the way of businesses – or starting them.
It’s the same when it comes police and fire departments. Using the “logic” Rush and Mitt seem to be using, businesses should be moving strongly into areas where there’s a “low cost” when it comes to police and fire protection. Heck, any area with only a few policemen and no paid fire departments. Yes, those places exist, I live in one. You know what? They’re not stampeding here, or anywhere where that’s the case. It’s because police protection and fire protection actually help businesses. It means you don’t have to spend a lot of money on private security, extra costs for fire prevention (or hire people to do it for you), and your insurance rates depend on that.
It’s not “Marxism,” it’s actually real business sense. Admit it or not, and Republicans won’t, businesses depend on public infrastructure and services. If they’re not present, businesses don’t succeed. Elizabeth Warren had a great response to that:
There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
Public workers don’t add to the economy? Yes, they do. They provide services that enable businesses to function. Think they’re not necessary? Look at a place without them (they exist), and see just how “terrific” the economy is there. But if you think they’re not, then you’re welcome to move to a place where your wishes will be true. I guarantee you won’t last long, though. That’s the problem with “conservatives” (and I mean the quotes). They don’t want to admit they need the services – or want to pay for them. Which just makes them idiots.