Government bureaucrats take too many sick days?

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According to this report http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/06/12/good-news-30/ (see The Ferris Bueller Act – the first paragraph): “the average federal public servant calls in sick 18.2 days per year—nearly three times the absenteeism rate in the private sector.” Maclean’s magazine (the Canadian equivalent of Time or Newsweek) is urging the Tory government to stop this practice, and bring about a civil service that is “modern, high-performing and effective.” The stated goal is to “save … money.” Reading in between the lines we can infer that this editorial writer thinks Canada will be a better place if the bureaucrats put their noses to the grindstone.

Stuff and nonsense. The marginal productivity of “civil” servants is surely negative in that country and all around the globe. The bureaucrats create no value. Rather, they engage in taxing and regulating businessmen who are contributing to the economy. The employees of the state apparatus are central planners, with their central banks, housing authorities, institutions of socialized medicine, jailing people for victimless crimes, etc. Murray N. Rothbard rightly said that to improve GDP statistics, the “contributions” of government employees should be subtracted from those of the private sector, not added to them. Would the country be better off without its bureaucrats? Of course. Then, individuals, businesses and charitable groups would provide necessary “public” services, and deep six everything else.

But we are a long way from such a Nirvana. In the meantime, let us all encourage bureaucrats to take sick days off even when they are healthy; to take looooong vacations. The less they plague us, the better off we will all be. “No man or his property is safe when the legislature is in session” and this applies to “civil servants” as well.

3:13 pm on June 24, 2013