The Backlash Against Public Employees

Comments Off on The Backlash Against Public Employees
The Backlash Against Public Employees

Ronald Reagan famously said, "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem." 

In 2008, the results of the Presidential election suggested that the American public had rejected that view.  However, over the past 18 months, a "sea change" has taken place, and the public's trust in anything having to do with government has nearly vanished. 

One of the clearest symptoms is an unprecedented decline in our regard for public-sector employees as a group.  Whether we're talking about local, state, or federal employees, they are now increasingly seen as "destructive parasites" rather than "dedicated public servants."  The Trends editors believe this is a crucial tipping point in U.S. political history. 

Consider these developments:

  • On July 7, 2010, Rasmussen Reports announced that their recent survey of 1,000 adults shows that only 19 percent would be willing to pay higher taxes to avoid layoffs of state employees.  Sixty-nine percent say they would not be willing to pay more in taxes for this reason.1
  • The same poll indicated that Americans are slightly less opposed to paying higher taxes for education.  Thirty-four percent said they are willing to pay higher taxes to provide funding for public education, but 54 percent said they were not.
  • Thirty-seven percent said they are willing to pay higher taxes to increase the number of police and firemen in their communities.  But, 52 percent said they would not be willing to do so. 
  • According to a May 4, 2010 Rasmussen survey, 36 percent of all adults believe public employee unions put a significant strain on the U.S. budget. But, in states like California and New Jersey, where public employee unions are strongest, a majority of voters say public worker unions are a significant strain on their state budgets. 
  • According to a report in New Jersey's Star-Ledger2 newspaper, "In Internet postings and on talk-radio shows, government workers are being called 'greedy' and 'bloodsuckers.'  Commenting on the teachers union, one writer called its members 'the worst human beings on the face of the planet.'   Criticizing the police, another wrote, 'The typical criminal could never steal what these cops are walking out the front door with [in the form of pensions].'"

As the Trends editors have explained in previous issues, the United States is locked in a race against demographic change.  We have to raise per capita GDP by closing the skills and productivity gaps at a faster rate than the increases in health care and pension costs if we're to grow our standard of living in the 21

Subscribe for as low as $195/year

  • Get 12 months of Trends that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Trends Research Library
  • Optional Trends monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • Receive our exclusive "Trends Investor Forecast 2015" as a free online gift
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% full refund