Yes, Government Jobs Are Real Jobs.

I don't spend enough time on libertarian blogs, so I can't tell if Reason's Tim Cavanaugh is joking or not when he cites Cuba's massive lay-off of government employees as evidence that the failed worker's paradise is "more capitalist than [the] USA":

While the United States, under local, state and federal leadership that could collectively be described as Bloomschwartzenbama, can't seem to stop the growth of government employment, the Castro Brothers -- who directly employ most of Cuba's population -- plan to lay off half a million government employees by March and expand the issuing of "licenses for self-employment."

According to the MSNBC article Cavanaugh quotes, "More than 85 percent of the Cuban labor force, or over 5 million people, worked for the state at the close of 2009." By contrast, a mere 17 percent of the United States' labor force is employed by federal, state, or local government, ranging from 12 percent in Ohio to 38 percent in Washington, D.C. If Cuba wanted to get its government employment down to American levels, it would need to lay off more than 4.5 million workers, for whom there are no jobs in the socialist republic.

This reminds me: I'm continuously baffled by this belief -- held mostly by conservatives and libertarians -- that government jobs aren't "real jobs." It's true that public-sector job growth can't sustain the economy forever, but it's also true that government employees -- like teachers and police officers -- add value to the economy. However, there's political advantage in believing the opposite, and since our views tend to align with our interests, my hunch is that conservatives and libertarians would recognize this fact if they, and not the Democrats, were responsible for pulling the economy out from underneath the rubble.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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