Happily, the NFL just signed a new 8-year contract with the NFL Referees Association. As difficult as the lockout was for football, imagine for a moment how negotiations might have proceeded if they had been run by Washington.
They might have gone something like this:
During the negotiations, the referees (government workers) would have demanded two things: First, that they receive average annual pay that was higher than that of the athletes (private sector employees) -- and second, that the number of game officials on the field be increased from 7 to 13.
The team owners (politicians) would loudly object that such costs were excessive, but since the bickering owners ultimately assumed they could pass the cost on to the fans (taxpayers), they would accept the deal in the interest of cooperation and encouraged by the football commissioner, a smooth Harvard lawyer.
To make the deal work financially, the owners would also agree to cut the number of players on the field, so that the three players from each team would be reassigned as officials. In the end there would be eight players on each team, along with 13 officials. Of course, since the game had changed, the commissioner would assign the officials the responsibility to rewrite and expand the rules, resulting in a rulebook of several thousand pages.
Imagine sitting in the stands during a typical game, with 13 officials watching 16 players make every move as they tried to comply with hundreds of new rules; calling foul after foul and with a video review by the referee every few plays. Fans would begin to curse and boo and eventually leave the stands. At the end of each game lasting over 5 hours, and with the final scores of perhaps 0 to 3, the stands would be nearly empty.
By the end of the season a sportscaster might ask, "Mr. Commissioner, some people have said that you've made some unwelcome changes to the game. With collapsing ticket sales and the cancellation of television contracts, what do you say to these critics?" He would answer with a reassuring smile, "Well, this isn't a problem in the short run; we have a line of credit with a foreign bank that can keep the league in operation. What you have to realize is that although this wasn't my fault, my administration has been working through a uniquely difficult time to establish a new normal. We just have to move forward on this path and let the fans get used to the new rules. I'm confident that things will look up next season."
If that scenario sounds preposterous, consider this. According to published government data 21 percent of the cost of all the goods and services produced in California in 2011 was spent to fund state and local government; another 24 percent of it was to finance the federal government. As in a game with 13 officials and 16 players on the field, an astonishing 45 percent of the available financial and human resources of our state is being spent to operate government. As with the officials in the game, highly paid government bureaucrats write and enforce a monstrous and ever expanding rule book for private enterprise undermining efficiency, innovation, and job creation.
Finally, the taxpayers, like the disillusioned fans leaving the stadium, are dropping out of the workforce or leaving the state altogether. They can't understand how all of this could have happened and how the commissioner can look straight into the camera and ask them to accept his new normal for another season.