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. is an associate professor of political science at Union University and an Affiliate Scholar in Religion & Politics at the Acton Institute. He is the author of The End of Secularism and Political Thought: A Student's Guide.


  • 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.