A Good Start

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The Pentagon has announced that 8,700 civilian employees of the Army will soon be in the private sector. Yes, some will benefit from “buyouts,” paid by the taxpayer to go away; others will retire with full benefits. But Bill Rickenbacker had it right 35 years ago, when he advocated sending all the bureaucrats home with full pay and pensions. That’s all they care about, he said, but Bill cared more about the damage that these millions of swaggering slugs wrought on the economy and the country — which amounted to a much greater sum that it cost to pay them off and shutter their agencies after selling their equipment in a Fire Sale on the Mall.

My mailbox is full of testimonials from members of the bureaucracy, including the military: their estimates of how many people actually work in their agencies vary from 15% on the low side to a maximum of 50% on the high side. This is from the folks who are there. So if it’s 8,700 today, let’s add a zero every month: 87,000 in January, 870,000 in February, and, for good measure, another 870,000 in March. In April the taxpayer will have something to be cheerful about. And whoever’s left will be able to tell us how many of them there are, and whether or not they’re really working.

Just before he left the Pentagon, Secretary Gates admitted that he did not know how many people worked in the Pentagon or how much money they spent. Nobody else knows either, he wryly observed. In order to find out the true number, the easiest way would be to fire everybody, and count the people as they leave. If an honest pol takes Ron Paul’s advice and closes one useless cabinet agency after another, it will be morning in America again (and remember that the national debt of the “Big Government” that Ronald Reagan ran against in 1980 was below one trillion dollars.)

Fire them all. Country’ll grow.

5:36 pm on December 9, 2011