Economics

The Case for Draining the Swamp Is Stronger Than Ever

Photo credit: Chris Montgomery at Unsplash

The latest official employment report finds once again that the federal government and state-local hiring spree is still in full gear. Over the past year, health care and government hiring has outpaced every private sector industry. It isn’t just the IRS bringing on thousands of new workers. The bloat is everywhere.

So even though there are a lot more government workers, good luck finding them or getting them on the phone.

This is because so few of them are actually physically on the job.

What’s happening in the federal government (“Club Fed”) these days borders on the absurd — or should I say the obscene. A recent Federal News Network survey of federal workers finds only 6% are working full time in the office. Thirty percent are full-time remote. Washington office buildings have become city block-long zombies. Especially on Fridays.

While exact comparisons between public and private employees are tricky and inexact, best estimates are that in 2023 roughly 30% of private workers were working from home or remotely either some or all the time. In the private sector, the percentage of employees working from home has actually declined from about 50% during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This means that, according to FNN, federal employees are THREE TIMES more likely to be working remotely either some or all the time.

Full-Time Remote

— Federal Government: 30%

— Private Workers: 12%

Full-Time or Hybrid Remote

— Federal Government: 94%

— Private Workers: 30%

I’m all for employees working remotely a few days a week. I do it myself, and it’s likely to become more common in the information and digital age.

But one has to wonder how many of these workers are really necessary. And how many of these remote government workers, who can almost never get fired for bad performance, are putting in an honest day’s work? My suspicion is very few.

The irony is that three years ago the federal government issued an order for federal employees to return to work post-COVID-19. Many thousands have blatantly ignored the order.

Remember, government workers have some of the cushiest and least stressful jobs on the planet. And they get paid roughly 30% to 40% more than comparably skilled private workers — when taking into account exorbitant benefits.

Here is my solution: Uncle Sam is losing almost $2 trillion a year. STOP HIRING NEW PEOPLE. Every federal agency, including the biggest bureaucracy in the world, the Pentagon, should impose a hiring freeze — except for extraordinary circumstances — until the budget is balanced. Then impose, across the board, a 30% reduction in force.

Finally, if the government needs more revenues, start by selling federal buildings that are less than half-occupied. Many buildings are less than 20% occupied.

Former President Donald Trump’s most popular rallying cry in 2016 was to “drain the swamp.” But today the swamp is deeper than ever, and the deep state swamp creatures are even more numerous after four years of Biden-Harris. If Trump wins, he and Republicans should get draining.

Stephen Moore is a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a senior economic advisor to Donald Trump. His latest book is: “Govzilla: How the Relentless Growth of Government Is Devouring Our Economy.”

Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economist with FreedomWorks. His latest book is “Govzilla: How the Relentless Growth of Government is Devouring our Economy.”

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