Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Public Employees Create Social Value

Iain Dale, along with many other Conservative bloggers, has posted a Speech by Daniel Hannan in which Hannan ripped into Gordon Brown in front of the European Parliament.

Along with some real hits on Brown, Hannan repeated the common theme among Conservatives that public employees do not "create real wealth."

The problem with Hannan, and in my thinking what will be a problem with the coming Conservative government, is that it is not true that only the work of a private employee has value while the work of a public employee has none.

For example, the public employees who teach, repair roads, work as cops, etc, contribute real value to human society, while the work of private employees, such as, well, Hedge fund employees contributes nothing.

When a Conservative government seems likely, I think it is worthwhile to keep pointing out the likely fallacies.


Anonymous said...

Public sector employees solely consume wealth generated by private sector employees who generate a profit which in turn generates a tax revenue base from which there is money to employ public servants.

The public sector is a luxury affordable by a successful wealth generating society. Take away the wealth generators and there is no public sector.

Paul Halsall said...

This is nonsense as basic economics. A worker doing x-job (e.g. building house) contributes exactly the same wealth to the economy whether s/he is publically or privately employed. Much of the wealth produced by such a work is expropriated in both system.

The same applies to administrators. Assuming for the sake of argument that paper-pushing administration is necessary for society to work, then the work of a civil servant in administering a project is just as wealth generating as the work of a private administrator.

In both cases, a higher amount of the social wealth produced in all the above cases is expropriated by those who are richer.

For example, take the a public servant called a "police officer." His or her value to society is to help contribute to public order. All benefit from this public order, it is true, but the rich benefit more. For it is there *greater* property that is defended.

In a state of nature, the physically young and powerful would simply be able to take wealth from the weak (both the weak poor but also the weak rich, who have more stuff.)