Government employment is creating a class of aristocrats

Government employment is creating a class of aristocrats

By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist

As in prerevolutionary France, the peasants work to support the privileged

(Reprinted from January 20, 2010 Current-Gazette Newspapaers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties,

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness ? it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.”

? Charles Dickens (1812-1870), ?A Tale of Two Cities?


This famous Dickens novel told of the disastrous French Revolution that began 13 years after our successful American Revolution. Every day, this country is more like the angry and miserable France of 1789, and less like the hopeful and prosperous America of 1776.

France, like America, was an advanced and wealthy country. But in France, the best-paying jobs were government jobs. The privileged people who held them used their inside knowledge and influence to pass them to their children, even when others were better qualified.

And so the government was run by a privileged class of aristocrats. High taxes were needed to support them. But to avoid public anger, French officials collected many small taxes and hid them in the price of everything people had to buy ? food, clothing, rent, land transfers, tolls on every road and bridge, etc.

French aristocrats also drained money out of private business. Permits were needed from several government agencies to build a factory or start almost any business. Applying for these permits was a difficult and expensive process, and only a select few got them. In France, the most “successful” businesses were those with the best lawyers and run by people who were good at bribing, flattering and entertaining government officials ? not at delivering a good product for a fair price. Poorly-run businesses made money since friends in government kept out all competition.

In this way a small group of insiders used the power of government to grab most of the nation’s wealth for themselves, while giving the nation very little in return. While the insiders enjoyed wealth and leisure, most of French people worked long hours and barely survived. Neither they nor their children had any hope of ever living comfortable lives ?until the revolution.

It never occurred to the French aristocrats that they were the cause of so much misery in their country. These government officials went to special schools from childhood to prepare for government service. They thought the country could not run without them and that they were entitled to their wealth and privilege. They dismissed anyone who criticized them as ignorant, hateful or selfish. They had no idea how hated they were by most people ? until the mobs dragged them from their mansions.

Thomas Jefferson was then America’s ambassador to France. He was good friends with many government officials there. During the French Revolution, many fled to America, where Jefferson found government jobs for them at their request.

But the French were disappointed and soon quit. They complained that in America, there were hardly any taxes. Most government jobs were part-time positions that paid very little, not enough for a career. Government officials could not even collect bribes.

In those days, Americans did not need government permits to clear land for farms, build ships or factories, form businesses, transport goods, or hire whomever they wanted at whatever pay was agreeable to both.

There were very few government programs for the poor, because few Americans were poor. Most Americans enjoyed middle-class lifestyles when they reached the age of 30. And they eagerly gave their spare time and money to volunteer organizations that helped the poor, the sick and the disabled.

Today, even the Revel Casino project can’t succeed without government welfare payments.

Nothing will change until we have a revolution ? but with votes, not guns. School elections are April 20. Candidate petitions must be filed by March 1. Party primary elections are June 8. Petitions are due April 15. We need more ordinary citizens like you, and fewer French-thinking aristocrats in public office.

But you need certain skills to defeat an experienced aristocrat in an election. is hosting a three-hour “basic training” seminar on how to be an effective candidate with a winning campaign. The instructor is veteran campaign manager Chris Doss from the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Va. The seminar is 5:30 to 8:45 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25 at the Mays Landing branch of the Atlantic County Library, 40 Farragut Ave. (at Main Street). Admission is $15, which pays for the instructor and includes pizza and soda. Reply to or (609) 927-7333. Be part of the solution!

Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears live on WVLT-92.1FM, heard throughout South Jersey 8-9 a.m. every Saturday. For information see, email or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions are held 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Athena Diner, 1515 New Road, Northfield.

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