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Note to O’Reilly: Government workforce is actually shrinking

January 29, 2013 - Jim Anderson
In his weekly column (published in Monday’s Daily News), Bill O’Reilly offers a comparison between government employment and private employment and touts the blessings to the world of his own employer — Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

“In 1979, a man named Rupert Murdoch started a company that today employs 48,000 workers worldwide. The employees of the News Corporation, of which I am one, pay taxes and support families. The company gives us an opportunity to succeed on our own without any financial assistance from the government. We don’t take from it,” O’Reilly writes.

“Some of our tax dollars go to pay the salaries and benefits for government workers. Since he was elected, President Obama has increased the federal payroll by more than 130,000. Most of those folks work hard but, again, they are paid by private sector workers.”

“So which scenario is better for America?” O’Reilly asks. "The private sector situation or the expanding government workforce?”

A few things to ponder:

Last fall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that — in total — federal, state and local government payrolls were 743,000 jobs lower than when Obama took office. Private payrolls, meanwhile, were 868,000 jobs higher than when Obama took office.

O’Reilly focuses only on federal employment (and ignores reductions in Postal Service employment). That may be fair, in assessing the president’s performance. However, the bottom line is that private sector employment is up and overall government employment is down since Obama took office. (The gains in federal employment have come mainly in the areas of defense, veterans assistance and homeland security.)

You wouldn’t know that reading O’Reilly.

As for Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation, it may be true that neither of them takes assistance from the government. Does that alone make them virtuous?

In Britain, zealous employees of Murdoch’s News International hacked the voicemail account of a missing 13-year-old and deleted messages from her phone to free up space for more messages. That gave her family false hope that their daughter was still alive and, of course, misled police investigators.

All for the sake of selling newspapers.

Free enterprise at work.

In the end, you’ll find good and bad in the private sector and good and bad in the government sector. Sometimes the government sector mucks up the private sector. Sometimes it goes the other way.

In May, a U.K. committee investigating the wide-ranging phone-hacking scandal concluded that Murdoch was “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.” Murdoch “exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications,” the House of Commons Culture Committee said. “This culture, we consider, permeated from the top.”

You didn’t find that in O’Reilly’s column either.



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