SELF-PRESERVATION FAIL

Here in the State o' Georgia, a solid majority of the population tends toward Teabaggery. Many are under the hypnotic spell of Neal Boortz, Lord of the Airwaves, or one of the many charismatic and highly intelligent local politicians like Sonny Perdue, Saxby Chambliss, or Paul Broun. Georgians don't like taxes, big gub'mint, liberals, uppity colored presidents, or any of the other things the modern conservative is contractually obligated to hate. This doesn't describe every Georgian, of course, but…there are no doubts about our redness.

Here are the 10 largest employers in Georgia:

Or, to put it another way:

1. The government
2. The government
3. The government
4. The government
5. Private university heavily dependent on state/federal grants and federal student loans
6. The government
7. Private university hospital
8. Government contractor
9. The government
10. Private employer

Think that's funny? Check out Florida!

The inability of these people to understand that "fiscal responsibility" and "cutting spending" are slogans for cutting their own throats is beyond me. I mean, what this state and its 9.9% unemployment rate really need is for the state to stop spending money (and Congress too!). They rationalize it, I'm sure, with some bullplop about cutting "waste" or maybe old favorites like "welfare" which, according to Boortz, is probably like 70% of the state budget.

On the other side of the country, DWT brings us the charming story of remote Modoc County in Northern California. The "citizens" of this tiny county (population: 9,449) are currently debating a ballot measure to institute a small tax to keep its only hospital open. If it closes, the next-closest hospital might be hours away (a nearby hospital is over mountains that are impassable in winter). And like many rural hospitals, it is the county's largest employer. The parcel tax will cost each land owner an extra $195 annually.

In the county that handed McCain his largest victory in California, that's heresy. To the Teabagging faithful, dying before they can reach a hospital after having a stroke on the farm is a small price to pay for that extra $195 – although once the county's largest employer folds I can't imagine who will be left except for the sizable population of old, immobile, and angry retirees.

I don't sincerely expect the average talk radio fan to have a great grasp of the numbers or, you know, reality, but it is amazing how ignorant Americans are of the extent to which our economy is dependent on government spending. State, federal, and local governments combined have employment rolls running into the millions (2 million for the Federal government alone, not counting the military or the private sector defense industry that depends entirely on Pentagon money). Yet all we hear is cut, cut, and cut some more. Fire the teachers, screw the cops, and shut down the hospitals. That will make everything better, right?

Be Sociable, Share!

45 Responses to “SELF-PRESERVATION FAIL”

  1. Entomologista Says:

    States like Georgia always get more in federal dollars than they contribute. Basically, that means blue states pay for the tax breaks in red states. It needs to stop.

  2. acer Says:

    Every man an Atlas!

  3. Nunya Says:

    I have quite a few friends in public service from police officers to military personnel. With only a few notable exceptions, they consider themselves to be conservative republicans.

    When confronted with the obvious disconnect that they receive their incomes (and pensions, health care, and other socialist trappings) they are completely unaware that they are hypocrites of the highest order.

    I'm one of those strange people who actually considers paying taxes to be the purest form of patriotism. I attended public schools and public universities and have enjoyed being able to call the police or fire department when necessary. Now that it is my turn to return the favor to my neighbors and their kids (though I am childless) I consider it merely the repayment of a debt and an investment in the future of this country.

    If the left wing truly had a voice, they would shout this slogan to everyone they meet… "Patriots pay their taxes." The claptrap of equating patriotism with foreign wars and military might is over. I'm sure I'm not alone in believing that the best investment is in your own country and countrymen.

  4. Ike Says:

    Not much to add (as usual.) My observation is the same though. I live in Richland, WA; home to the giant money-sucking mess that is the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Thousands of jobs and contractors all paid generously by the feds, the state, and especially the recent stimulus package. In fact, this is one of the very few areas in the country that has low unemployment, job growth, new construction, and a housing shortage. All because of tax dollars being thrown all over the place. And of course, this is Sarah Palin teabagger country.

  5. beau Says:

    I, too, can only join the chorus.

    Then again, I live in Queensland, which may just be the Georgia of Australia.

  6. Prudence Says:

    I was absolutely staggered that the leader of the no-taxes campaign in Alturas said he'd spend $10-15,000 on defeating the initiative to pay $195 a year to keep a *hospital* open. Yes, I'm a slow learner.

  7. Mrs. Chili Says:

    I'm a teacher, I love my roads and my garbage collection, I think cops and colleges and hospitals are great. I may be an ENGLISH teacher, but I understand enough about math to know that those things have to be paid for, and taxes are how we do that. Would I like to see the money spent in more reasonable and responsible ways? Absolutely. Do I want to stop paying taxes and sacrifice many of those important things? No.

    I often wonder if the whole idea of cutting programs here really just means more money for some pet project there.

  8. comrade x Says:

    I worked for a factory in Western North Carolina about 10 years ago. Most of the workers were on some form of public assisstance because the job didn't pay dick- none of the jobs around there did. They got pissed about that and various other issues and tried to form a union. Company moved to Mexico soon after. Most of the ex- employees signed up for unemployment benefits afterward.
    This was around the time of the 2000 presidential election. No prizes for guessing who they voted for.

  9. Seth Says:

    I grew up about a mile from Emory, and spent parts of several years doing door-to-door canvassing for Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and US PIRG. It was on the canvass, beginning in the late 80s, that I began to hear the "You [insert denigrating term for 'leftist' here] just want to control my life. [Insert dire slippery slope prediction here]." I still don't entirely understand the logic of this position, except to posit that conservatives, who want to dominate everything and everybody, can't even imagine that others might have different motivations.

    The scene in Georgia, certainly the metro Atlanta area, is complicated by the fact that governing is, in fact, totally incoherent and corrupt. Is there another major city in the US that actually reaches into two different counties? You have two different county governments, plus the city government (and that only kaleidoscopes when you start including suburbs) all dickering over jurisdictions, tax dollars, and so on.

    The litany of incompetence and corruption probably isn't worth rehashing.

    All this adds up to a situation that makes it easy for manipulative Republican strategists to transmute anger at incompetent government into anger at government more broadly. "Government sucks. Don't worry about why. It just sucks."

  10. grumpygradstudent Says:

    Whenever I bring up an argument like this to conservatives, they say something like "well, of course I wasn't talking about THOSE programs."

    Whether it's a person or a government program, it's always easier to hate in the abstract.

    And, on this issue, it's not just conservatives! A lot of political scientists are just as willing to spout "government is intrinsically wasteful" dogma! Empirical evidence? Who needs it! It's obvious, right?

  11. shouldbegradingpapers Says:

    Another English teacher! Hello, Mrs. Chili!

    I am an English teacher IN GEORGIA. Born and raised. I spent the first 2/3 of life reading good bads and drinking cold beer. Suddenly I realize ALL of my friends from college are rabid conservatives, most of whom spend their mornings listening to Boortz. What a douche. I can't spend time with my friends without constantly changing the subject or leaving the room when the stoopid starts to flow.

    So, I found this same chart, and I agree with the premise of your post, but I disagree with the figures. I work in one of the largest metro Atlanta school systems, and I know we employ thousands. Curiously, none of the major metro systems are represented on the top 50 employers. But it's still gubmint, and I would estimate that half of the "liberal elitists" (that's Boortz speak) in my building are actually Tea Party advocates.

  12. shouldbegradingpapers Says:

    …good "bads"? WTF? …good books!

  13. displacedCapitalist Says:

    Whenever I bring up an argument like this to conservatives, they say something like "well, of course I wasn't talking about THOSE programs."

    Whether it's a person or a government program, it's always easier to hate in the abstract.

    That's what I was going to point out. Ed's list should be more like this:

    1. The military
    2. The military
    3. The military
    4. The government

    etc. etc. etc.

    No RINO-hating teabagger would ever dare suggest cutting funds to the Pentagon! No sirree!

  14. The Man, The Myth Says:

    Just an awesome post. I have nothing to add but to lick Ed's boots. I have had similar interactions with conservatives who will say how much they despise government without realizing that without government society wouldn't function. I have recently lived Idaho which has Micron computers and government (http://www.acinet.org/acinet/oview6.asp?soccode=&stfips=16&from=State&id=11&nodeid=12). Thanks for the information.

  15. John Says:

    Yes, unfortunately the GOP has managed to convince its base that the Military — the single largest arm of the Federal Gub'mint, and the most well-equipped to oppress the populace — is somehow completely insulated from the rest of the Gub'mint, not subject to the constant claims of "Gub'mint can't do anything right" and "Gub'mint just wants to steal your money and control you". No True Patriot™ would dare question the pure, just Military.

    But then, they pretty much had no choice. You can't convince an entire segment of the populace to loathe the Gub'mint and everything it stands for while also dedicating a very large part of your financial doings around part of it. The Military-Industrial Complex is so entrenched in the halls and coffers of congress and the wealthy that their only recourse was to pretend it's not part of the government so that they can convince idiot rednecks to tear down every other source of spending to afford the wealthy's tax breaks.

  16. Baltimore Says:

    I think that it should be noted that #7, like most hospitals, are supported by Medicare and Medicaid Dollars.

  17. Satan Mayo Says:

    Should I presume that a "Church" with 9,727 employees in Clearwater, Florida means "The Church of Scientology"?

  18. Deborah Says:

    @John — That's also precisely why there's been an intense and sustained campaign to evangelize every branch of the military, and why it's top officers feel free to go on record calling their current Commander-in-Chief a trembly, incompetent wimp. (Paraphrasing.) That's not government! That's God!

  19. Bugboy Says:

    After hearing Congressman Grayson's excellent video where he says:

    "I've spoken to enough of them to be able to tell you that they themselves don’t know why."

    about these folks, I am more convinced than ever we have a country of mentally defective electorate. That or extremely gullible.

    I work with one of them…both he and his wife derive 100% of their income from taxes. He is a died in the wool rapture boy. The only thing I can figure is they know everyone will call them crazy if they say out loud "I believe in the bible and it says the end is nigh" so they say other things, like saying our president is a muslim, when he is not. By the way, this co-worker of mine HAS said that to me, nearly word for word. Why care if you are cutting your own throat if you believe the world is ending? All that matters is that the blasphemers and heretics get what's coming to them.

  20. Mark Says:

    Where'd you get these numbers? It seems impossible to believe that neither Coca-Cola, Walmart, or Delta Airlines has made it into the top 10.

  21. Mark Says:

    Indeed, Walmart claims to employ 52,000 people in Georgia. It's not hard to believe, considering they have 130 supercenters in the state.

    That's certainly symptomatic of some other problems, but the point is, you fail at fact-checking. Could you please FJM yourself? (Btw I don't even know what FJM stands for).

  22. Ed Says:

    http://www.acinet.org/acinet/oview6.asp?soccode=&stfips=13&from=State&id=11&nodeid=12

    How many people does Wal-Mart employ full time? Given how smart you are, I would have thought you'd think of that.

  23. truth=freedom Says:

    While all of this is interesting enough, it's not as instructive as comparing the size of these operations (and the largest 10 or 100 operations collectively) compared to the size of the total workforce of a state (so in Georgia's case that's roughly 3.8M). The 10 largest employers are roughly 3.4%.

    On it's face, that doesn't sound like much. But an honest estimation of the consequences of the TeaPartier's favorite approach to government (Kill it!) would be that in short order the unemployment rate would jump about 3%.

    Ouch.

  24. Paul W. Luscher Says:

    Well, it's kinda like that out here in the West: land of Ronald Reagan and rugged individualism.

    While they hate big guv'mint and especially the Feds, they fail to note they couldn't possibly live here without all those colossal water projects that the Federal guv'mint put in place. Or how many defense contractors are out here–dependent on the federal guv'mint. Or how so many of those rugged ranchers prospered by cheap grazing on Federal land–subsidized by you and me. And let's not go into the crop subsidies that have made so many reactionary growers rich and happy….

    No, the right-winger's hatred of guv'mint while they fatten off it defies logic…

  25. Mark Says:

    You said nothing about full-time vs part time employees. I suspect that chart you are looking at is counted by employees at one physical location, which biases the list towards things like universities, military bases, etc.

    Even if we assume that the average walmart employee works 20 hours a week, that still yields the equivalent of over 25,000 employees, which puts it at number 2 on your list. Look at that list again – it does not pass even a simple sanity check. Coca cola employs less than 4000 people?? Have you ever been to Atlanta?

    Also, it seems Delta employes almost 30,000 in Georgia.

  26. Mark Says:

    Here's some more conflicting data for you: http://www.city-data.com/us-cities/The-South/Atlanta-Economy.html. According to this Walmart employs 15,000 in the atlanta area alone. And Delta Airlines is 26,000. (Regarding the part-time/full-time rebuttal, there's nothing to suggest your original data makes any distinction between full and part time either).

    I wouldn't normally be an asshole about this, but since you seem to enjoy excoriating the perpetrators of crappy journalism (something I applaud you for), I think you deserve to take a little bit of grief for not even spending 5 minutes fact-checking what are transparently ludicrous numbers that you copied uncritically from some job-hunting website.

  27. Ed Says:

    You are tough but fair.

    Those appear to be single-site employment numbers. Ed: fail.

  28. Mark Says:

    And you, Sir, are largely correct about the lunacy of cutting government spending in a recession, even if the above data was wrong.

  29. ts46064 Says:

    Mark, if true does that change anything? Theres still a ton of employees who are paid with tax dollars.

  30. JohnR Says:

    "..dying before they can reach a hospital after having a stroke on the farm.."

    But that will be the fault of the socialist liberals in big government.

    Remember, any adverse consequences of your actions are always due to the insidious and secret efforts of your inscrutable enemies.

  31. ts46064 Says:

    Any guess as to what the percentage of employed people in Georgia are in the public sector at any level?

  32. Ed Says:

    OK, one caveat. In my weak defense.

    If, as several of you point out, we use data that doesn't rely on single-site criteria, the school districts in highly populated counties hit the 20,000 mark easily. So I'm not sure that an accurate statewide top ten would be less dominated by government enterprises.

  33. Nan Says:

    I work for a large federal public health agency that is a major presence in Atlanta. The comments section on the employee blog on the agency intranet fills up with anti-government rants on a regular basis. It always astounds me how many government employees are totally convinced that we're all overtaxed and the government can't do anything right — are they acknowledging their own incompetence?

    One thing that can skew stats when looking at government jobs is the presence of contractors. CDC seems to have as many workers supplied by contractors like Northrop Grumman as it does actual direct employees — in some divisions it seems like the "temporary" contractors outnumber the permanent civil servants by about 2 to 1.

  34. John Says:

    @Nan: "It always astounds me how many government employees are totally convinced that we're all overtaxed and the government can't do anything right — are they acknowledging their own incompetence?"

    In their minds, no. Remember, the great Republican Paradox: All Gub'mint is evil except that Gub'mint which benefits me directly. All Gub'mint employees are incompetent except for me and my friends. All politicians are lying scum that want to take your freedom, except for the politicians I endorse or support.

    The story of the Republican Party is the story of American Exceptionalism — making exceptions for themselves and their cronies.

  35. Radical Scientist Says:

    I'm with Seth–the Republican-led Georgia government does not exactly inspire confidence. Watching Paul Broun embarrass us in front of all the other states makes cutting government severely seem like a good idea. If I thought they were competent enough to do it on purpose, I'd be impressed with their self-sacrificing commitment to the teabagger cause.

  36. d Says:

    I work for Disney so when I checked out the Florida link, I was *shocked* that Disney didn't show up there.

    Walt Disney World had like 60,000 employees and was at some point touting that they were the largest single site employer in the country. Here a reference: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/orl-cover2408nov24,0,5755666.story

    I'm thinking that DoL site you linked to must just be government, educational, or government contractors and is not a fair representation of the labor market.

  37. Ed Says:

    I would be floored if 75% of Disney employees were not seasonal or independent contractors (for liability purposes).

    There are a number of private businesses on the list. It's not just government. The problem is that Disney isn't signing as many paychecks as you'd think.

  38. shouldbegradingpapers Says:

    Mark's link is good, but it still can't be accurate either. Cobb Co. is not the only large Atlanta area school system: http://schools.nationalrelocation.com/district/1301290/
    My system has 30,000 more students, but it doesn't show on either list given so far.

    How are these lists compiled? Often, data like this is provided by the entities themselves, and often they fail to provide that data to the compilers.
    Or they skew the data, purposefully or inadvertently.

    Still, even with questionable info on both lists, Ed's point remains valid. GA is a big-ol, redneck, red state with lots of teabaggers and their sympathizers, who rail against big gubmint even as it puts food on their tables and clothes their familes.

  39. xjmueller Says:

    Sorry i'm late to the party…
    just a thought on ther $600B DoD budget – it comes to roughly $1,800 per person. That's why it's so hard to cut, the money is spread all over the place, from bases to weapons mfg, to support contractors. It's spread all over America because that way, every district sucks at the teat. Of course, Gulf states and western states got most of the bases, and would be absolutely clobbered if the defense budget was actually cut, as it's such a large part of the economies in those places. You close Glenview NAS or Ft Sheridan (now that wobblies are no longer likely to attack the McComick estate) and the developers are happy. Close Warner Robbins AFB and there goes the ball game. Personally, I'd liketo see this happen, but doubt that it ever will – we have to protect ourselves from jihadis, resurgent rooskies, chicoms, illegal aliens from south of the border, etc. Besides, why would we cut federal spending during a recession and put those poor folks out of work? (that could be snark or an honest observation – works both ways)

  40. JMP Says:

    I put this on the BfD when it came out, but it bears repeating, as it's since disappeared over there. 1.) These are largely complied via 'self reporting', which is just about as accurate (if not a bit worse) when done via survey data. 2.) Many Governmental agencies like schools & hospitals literally Do Not Report. It's not known exactly why, but fear of 'big gummint' by some might be part of this. 3.) Ergo it's actually fairly difficult to come up with these stats, or reliable ones that might be somewhat comparable across jurisdictions/states/counties, whatever. 4.) Which also brings up a larger point. Much of our economic data is individual & tax based. We actually have some of the suckiest economic data in the western world due to folks fears of same 'big Gummint' & their tax avoidance of same. They're naturally reluctant to report much of anything to anyone for any reason. Hence we literally no next to nothing about what's going one. Which is just fine for the purposes of our overlords and the plutocrats who fund them. JMP

  41. JMP Says:

    Geez, that should have been 'Know nothing' up there. Sorry for any confusion. JMP

  42. where do i vote Says:

    I'm with Seth–the Republican-led Georgia government does not exactly inspire confidence. Watching Paul Broun embarrass us in front of all the other states makes cutting government severely seem like a good idea. If I thought they were competent enough to do it on purpose, I'd be impressed with their self-sacrificing commitment to the teabagger cause.