Big Government? The Government Is Smaller Than It Was 47 Years Ago

Author: October 28, 2013 5:59 pm
Big government? The government is way smaller than it was 55 years ago.

Big government? New jobs report shows that the government is less than half the size of what it was in 1966, 47 years ago, smaller military, far fewer jobs. Drowning big government in a bathtub collage by Elisabeth Parker with apologies to John Tenniel.

Big government? Bloated government? Out of control government that must be reigned in? According to the New York Times the recent jobs report shows that, even while the U.S. population has increased greatly in the past 47 years, the size of government today is smaller than it has been since 1966.  The report includes not just the federal government, but state and local government as well.

“Big government” is less than half the size today, than it was 47 years ago.

In August of 1966 the U.S. government employed 2,721,000 people. The newest jobs report, released in early September of this year, shows that our ‘big government’ now employs 2,723,000 people. That is just 2,000 more jobs in government today than we had 47 years ago.

Looking at in terms of population, the truth about ‘big government’ becomes even more clear. In 1966 about 4.3 percent of all jobs were government jobs. In 2013 the government accounted for just 2 percent of all jobs. To clarify that, the supposedly out of control, big government is less than half the size today, that it was almost 50 years ago.

 Not only is there is no ‘big government,’ there’s no big military, either.

The figures do not include military jobs. You might think that the government employs a much larger number of military personnel today than it did in the mid 1960’s. Again, the truth is the opposite of what the right-wing propaganda machine wants people to believe. In 1966 the military employed 2.6 million people. Today the U.S. armed forces employ just 1.4 million people. That number is just slightly over half of what it was 47 years ago. Not only is there is no ‘big government,’ there’s no big military, either.

Since 2010, when the GOP and tea party took control of the house, government has shrunk at an alarming rate.

This chart, published by The New York Times, shows a clear pattern in the size of the U.S. government and the pattern of growth or shrinkage, since President Obama took office. While we didn’t hear much about big government during the Bush years, what is clear from the chart is that government was much bigger when Bush was in charge.

Big Government? Not any more, this chart shows.

Government jobs, annual change chart from The New York Times.

What’s also clear is that since 2010, when the GOP and tea party took control of the house, government has been shrinking at an alarming rate. Yet the propaganda of a “big government,” a government that is out of control and must be reigned in, continues to overshadow the truth. Numbers don’t lie. Statistics don’t lie. The right wing and its media propaganda machine distort reality, in this case to the point where more people believe the lie than believe the truth.

 Even while destroying jobs, the GOP and tea party continue to screech about the high employment rate.

While the GOP continue to talk about ‘high’ unemployment, the chart clearly illustrates how they have contributed to the problem. Instead of helping to create jobs, red states and the tea party congress are destroying jobs as fast as they can. In doing so, they carry out two of their lofty goals. The first is to try to shrink government until it fits into bathtub, a scenario that ends with them drowning it. The second is to keep the unemployment numbers as high as possible, something that inevitably reflects poorly on the president.

Teaching jobs have been cut in massive numbers in red states across the country. Between 2009 and 2011, jobs in the field of education were shrinking at incredible rates. While there has been a slight gain in the number of teachers in 2013, the small growth does not come close to making up for the number of positions that were eliminated during that three-year period. Police officers, fire fighters, human service workers and many other public sector employees have also been fired at alarming rates, as anyone living in a red state can surely attest to that.

Even while destroying jobs, the GOP and tea party continue to screech about the high employment rate. It’s almost as if they believe that firing people creates jobs. While they fire people across the country, they blame the president for not creating jobs. Yet at the same time they say it’s not the government’s responsibility to create jobs. In all of this, they have yet to ask the private sector “Where are the jobs?” They’re experts at misleading the public and misrepresenting the facts.

  How small does the GOP actually want government to be?

Seeing the reality of the situation, and realizing that the size of our supposedly out of control, big government is less than half of what it was nearly 50 years ago, it’s time we start asking some serious questions. How small does the GOP actually want government to be? When Grover Norquist said that the goal was to shrink government until if fits into a bathtub, he wasn’t kidding.

 A big government is the only entity that is strong enough to take on the kind of massive corruption we see in the private sector.

A big government is the only entity that is strong enough to take on the kind of massive corruption we see in the private sector. From Wall Street and too big to fail banks to the fossil fuel industry and abusive employers like Walmart, without government there’s nothing standing in the way of these very big, very rich members of the private sector.

If big government is destroyed, there will be no-one to sue when bankers illegally foreclose on your home. Heck, there’ll be no place to sue, since the Justice system itself is a part of the government. There’ll no-one to regulate, inspect, enforce or protect the average citizen from a wide range of evils, from contaminated food to environmental destruction.

When the private sector is bigger than the government, that’s called a Fascist state. Make no mistake that is what the republicans and the Tea Partiers are going for. Either we strengthen government now, or we hand over control of the country to the private sector. Lest we forget, it’s the people behind the effort to slash government are those same members of the private sector that caused the 2008 economic collapse. They’re the same members of the private sector that illegally repossessed millions of homes prior to 2008. They’re the same guys that consistently fight to eliminate the rights of working people. They’re same people that dump millions of gallons of oil into our lakes, rivers and oceans and never want to pay to clean up their mess. They’re the same members of the private sector that are regularly brought up on charges of corruption, by who? Oh yeah, by the big government.

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  • It is easy for irresponsible authors to get others angry by telling only part of the story. The people to blame are not the Democrats or the Republicans but the American people that don’t demand to know the whole truth.

    1- While the author is correct in saying the NUMBER of workers is close to the same as 47 years ago, she left out the fact that their SALARIES (including benefits) are significantly more now compared to then. Some union web sites boast that public employees are now earning 30% more than the same jobs in the private sector. We may have less people but it is costing us more thanks to the public service unions.

    2- Many jobs that were once classified as “government jobs” are no longer classified that way. It is just a way to trick taxpayers into getting angry at the wrong group. The jobs are still being paid for with taxpayer money and using union help which is fine, but it makes the government look smaller than it really is. Wake up, you are being duped by people that are biased to one side.

    Learn ALL of the facts before you make up your mind.

    Which side you take is up to you, but at least you should know the whole story before someone just tries to get you angry and control you with half the facts.

  • It only looks big if you have a small mind.

  • A government small enough for them to control.

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