Acton Institute Powerblog

Government Jobs and Social Uplift

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In the Nov/Dec issue of Touchstone, I have a piece on the issue of whether government jobs can act as a lever for opportunity and social mobility. My answer is a highly qualified “yes” with a number of cultural caveats. Love to get reactions from the Acton community.

The good people at Touchstone published this one online. You can read it here.

Here’s a teaser:

The question is whether the modern liberal approach to improving the quality of citizens’ lives by sustaining mass numbers of government jobs is workable. The answer is that it can be done (though at the cost of significant economic efficiency), but not with the mix of values currently accepted by modern liberals.

Hunter Baker Hunter Baker, J.D., Ph.D. serves as contributing editor to The City and to Salvo Magazine. In addition, he has written for The American Spectator, American Outlook, National Review Online, Christianity Today, Human Events.com, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and a number of other outlets. His scholarly work has appeared in the Journal of Law and Religion (“Competing Orthodoxies in the Public Square: Postmodernism’s Effect on Church-State Separation”), the Regent University Law Review (“Storming the Gates of a Massive Cultural Investment: Reconsidering Roe in Light of its Flawed Foundation and Undesirable Consequences”), and the Journal of Church and State. In 2007, he contributed a chapter “The Struggle for Baylor’s Soul” to the edited collection The Baylor Project, published by St. Augustine’s Press. He has also been a guest on a variety of television and radio programs, including Prime Time America and Kresta in the Afternoon. As a law student in the late 1990s, Hunter Baker worked for The Rutherford Institute and Prison Fellowship Ministries where he focused primarily on defending the constitutional principle of religious liberty. Prior to beginning doctoral studies in religion and politics at Baylor University in 2003, he served as director of public policy for the Georgia Family Council. While at Baylor, Baker served as a graduate assistant to the philosopher Francis Beckwith and the historian Barry Hankins. He assisted Beckwith in the editing of his landmark book Defending Life which has now been published by Cambridge University Press. He also provided research assistance to Hankins in his forthcoming biography of Francis Schaeffer. Baker currently serves on the political science faculty at Union University and is an associate dean in the college of arts and sciences. He is married to Ruth Elaine Baker, M.D. They have a son, Andrew, and a daughter, Grace.

Comments

  • Fine note, but probably unrealistic to hope that gov’t jobs today will support marriage, bigger families, or more individual responsibility in general.

    However, I think gov’t jobs as “jobs program” is possibly a great idea, if it means the higher paid gov’t workers get moved into half-time/ half-pay jobs.
    Twice as many workers, making half as much per worker, would do far more for society than the current overpaid underworking crop of gov’t workers.

    If the top 10% paid gov’t workers were put on such a half-time regime of work, that would open up a lot of slots lower down, and would help spread responsibility.

  • Nehemiah

    Of course a government job can lead to job opportunities. Its called becoming a Lobbyist via the revolving door. Otherwise I’m not sure the performance expectations/incentives push dynamic results that are attractive to businesses.