Republican wariness of Federal Bureaucracy? Give me a break.

News Flash: “President Trump signed orders making it easier to fire government workers. The push reflects conservative’s wariness of the federal bureaucracy” (https://nyti.ms/2GNL6GA)

The executive order is troubling in its own right. Also troubling, however, is the laughable claim that conservatives are wary of government bureaucracy. Even if you knew nothing else, you should at least know that since 1984, Republicans have consistently expanded government payrolls while Democrats have either permitted no growth (Clinton) or in fact shrunk the number of government employees.

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(See also Forbes)

Republicans are wary not of government bureaucracy. They love bureaucracy. They are wary of worker rights. Why? Because the stronger worker rights, the larger the portion of the marginal product that ends up in workers’ wallets (and, by inference, the less in the bank accounts of shareholders). Workers’ rights and worker protections were won in a very different climate that currently prevails. In the face of a united coalition of investors, law enforcement, and employers, workers successfully won a battery of concessions between 1918 and 1945. These concessions redistributed how the marginal product was distributed, giving rise to a giant leap in effect demand for consumer goods. We might also note that these concessions were made less controversial because worker demands were issued in a climate of steady economic growth.

When marginal returns began to fall in the late 1960s, investors needed to find a way to maintain the same returns they had enjoyed throughout the 1950s and much of the 1960s. Their solution was to chip away at the wages and benefits won by organized labor. It worked. We now have wealth inequality on par with pre-World War I levels.

It is not wariness of government bureaucracy that is driving Republican policy-makers, but wariness of worker rights.

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