I get it. I understand. You want a smaller public sector. There’s no real logic to it, you just want it. Like a child wants the latest toy or video game. You can’t articulate the “why” other than some deep-seated desire that it’s what you want. As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.
And you want to keep Governor Walker in office. Sure, I understand. But that pesky economy just won’t cooperate. Things keep swirling down, down, down. You can pretend “It’s Working,” but the truth is written in the Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Wisconsin shed more state-level public sector workers than any other state in the US.
Wisconsin shed a larger share of state government jobs than any other U.S. state in the second quarter of last year, according to the most accurate and comprehensive data that exists, released Tuesday.
State government employment in Wisconsin declined 10.1% or 7,987 jobs from April through June compared with the same three months a year before.
That time frame marks the second quarter of the term of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who vowed to cut the state’s deficits and spending.
This is one race Wisconsin does not want to win.
Although I’ve not seen an example for Wisconsin, Connecticut faced a similar sized loss through a possible layoff this past summer. Connecticut officials attempted to estimate the impact to their state economy should such a layoff transpire.
It’s important to understand that one person loosing a job doesn’t just affect that person. There is a knock-on effect throughout the economy, like ripples from a pebble dropped in a pond. As money circulates through the economy, it is subject to a multiplier effect. This means that each dollar spent potentially generates ($1 x multiplier) of economic activity. So if the multiplier is 2, than each $1 spent will ultimately generate $2 in downstream economic activity. Economists debate what the right multiplier should be for different economic circumstances, but there is a general consensus among mainstream economists that the multiplier effect is real. So what happened in Connecticut?
The Connecticut Economic Resource Center said Friday that a multiplier of 1.39 would be applied to the pending state government job losses. This means that for every single job lost, another four-tenths of a job would be lost as well, said Alissa DeJonge, the center’s director of research.
That works out to an additional 3,000 or more job losses that could hit the private sector hard, she said.
The impact of this loss of public sector jobs in Wisconsin could be an additional 3,100 jobs (both public and private sector) through indirect, knock-on effects. That’s staggering.
Yet despite this risk, I’ve seen numerous tweets like this one from J.R.
and I’m reasonably sure that these sentiments are shared across the Conservative echo-scape by a broad spectrum of people. Cut, cut, cut! The more we cut the more we’ll grow, seems to be the belief despite overwhelming evidence that proves the opposite. Expansionary austerity is a myth.
Let’s consider what direct impacts this sharp decline in public sector employment meant for Wisconsin:
- Thousands of new unemployment claims, a further drag on our limited resources
- More strain on an already oversubscribed BadgerCare
- Increasing utilization of emergency rooms for primary care
- Increased childhood poverty
- More foreclosures driving down neighborhood property values
- Reduced demand for goods & services
- Increased homelessness
- Reduced services for the elderly, disabled, mentally ill, and other vulnerable citizens
- “Brain drain” as unemployed workers leave Wisconsin for greener pastures
- Reduced tax revenues (income, consumption & property)
Honestly, it’s not surprising that most conservatives are blind to this cause & effect relationship, so blinded by their desire to drown the public sector in a bathtub. Accustomed to dismissing complex systems like the economy or the global climate as somehow unknowable, they seem to have a blind spot for these problems. Complex systems are not reducable to a simple “common sense” filter. But the world is a complex and dynamic system that requires patience, attention and thoughtful study to understand. Conservatives seem unsuited to that task.
The irony? The more they push public workers out, the more they cut, cut, cut, the more inflexible they are on new revenue, the worse the economy will get, propelling the recall effort against Governor Walker forward.
Here’s a simple calculation for my Republican readers (and you know who you are, dahlings!) to consider:
You can have fewer public workers or you can have a chance to keep Governor Walker.
Which will it be?