26 July 2006

Big government

While talking illuminatingly about the relationship between Democrats and libertarians, Hilzoy makes an astonishing observation.
Democrats have done a much better job, recently, of reexamining government programs and policies to see which have outlived their usefulness and need to be scrapped. Democrats cut the size of the federal workforce (see graphs here (long pdf; see pp. 8 and 9) and here. As far as I can tell, the last Republican president under whom the workforce shrank was Nixon; the last Democrat under whom it grew was Johnson.)
Looking at the second linked graph, I see that the federal workforce shrank significantly for the first few years of the Reagan administration ... but then nosed back up, and ended up high of where it started. And the only administrations with unmistakably clear trends were Johnson growing the federal payroll and Clinton steadily and vigorously whittling it away.

Of course, since I found this surprising, most folks will find this one impossible to believe altogether.

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