I saw something the other day that made me wonder whether we will survive as a nation. It was this:
The Census Bureau reports that the United States supports 89,004 separate governmental entities.
That number includes everything from state governments to school boards to the vast federal bureaucracies and the armed forces. It includes the courts and the law enforcement agencies such as local police forces. It includes transportation agencies, colleges and universities. It includes the armed services, hundreds of health departments — mental health and physical health both.
It includes hundreds of taxing agencies, hundreds of policing agencies.
Each of those governments has its own reason for being due to other governmental entities, such as legislatures, fashioning rules and regulations which have to be written, then enforced, then financed.
The financing is a nightmare for other governmental agencies which administer pensions, make payrolls and hire and fire independent contractors.
About 21 million people work in government in various capacities, from menial tasks to administration.
The governmental payroll comes to about one worker for each 14 Americans.
Not everyone who works in government likes it, even though government wages and benefits are some of the best the United States has to offer.
A study by The Evergreen State College found that people who worked for Washington State Government entities gave as the biggest reason for returning to college was so they could get out of government.
The most sought-after government jobs were in law enforcement and fire-fighting.
The highest-paid government jobs seem to be in coaching football and basketball.
The initial question, though — whether we can survive as a nation and still support all these governments, large and small — still stands.
I knew a fellow who used to say that we need to make government work for us, not the other way around. I think he has a point.