The Big Scam: Government Census Workers

I have a friend. Leads a normal suburban life. Good guy. A few weeks ago he opened his door to four, count them four, census workers standing on his stoop flipping out their “badges” posing as if they were law enforcement. They were there, all four of them, to ‘count’ my friend. They even drove a big, black Tahoe (government owned?) like you see on TV crime shows such as Criminal Minds, CSI, etc. This ladies and gentleman is the ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT and JOB CREATION lauded by the President and media last week. So will we ever admit that a vast swath of America is now busy work? Doubtful.

Thinking about this reminds me about a story about Milton Friedman in China. In observing hundreds of Chinese workers clearing land for a new building using shovels, Friedman asked his hosts, “Why are they using shovels? Why not use heavy equipment like an earth-mover?”

The Chinese official said, “If we did that, we’d lose all of those jobs!”

Supposedly Friedman said, “Oh, you’re trying to create jobs! I thought you were trying to build a building. If you want to create jobs, why not take away their shovels and give them spoons?”

That story has been around for a while, but it never gets old.

4 thoughts on “The Big Scam: Government Census Workers

  1. Michael, I was reading that and once I got to Milton’s reply I totally cracked up, laughing out loud… i could totally imagine him, in his kind of ironic way of saying that…

    So true.

  2. Did your friend happen to ask the people at his door whether they could provide him with job application? If they did..please post at Bernie’s Blog..

  3. I am sure they would have learned from Friedman now.

    Instead of 100 workers, now they only have 40 workers who operate machines and get much better productivity.

    10 specialists manage the machines.

    The outfit has 10 onsite managers, 5 senior management and 5 financiers.

    Remaining provide investment banking, trading services – both long term trend trading, day trading, to ensure adequate and timely capital flow and liquidity into the business. 🙂

  4. Before the 1950s, more people believed that menial labor, disciplines the soul and provides happiness to the heart and that gains without hard work only spoils character. We know differently nowadays.

    Chinese ancients used to tell the story of an old gardener who was watering his plants using a leaking pitcher painfully walking back and forth from the well to the trees.

    A wealthy Confucian merchant saw this and adviced the old man – why dont you use a pully or a machine so you can do what you are doing in 10 minutes?

    The gardener replied, if I start using the machine, then my heart will become a machine too, and I will become greedier to get more and more done. My spirit will lose its calm.

    I will have lot of free time with nothing worthwhile to do and lose my time with the trees.

    And I know there is a leak in the pitcher but if I fix it, the flower plants along the sidewalks will miss water.

    Of course we can have technology and still keep our soul if we make sure we serve others and make our money.

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